By Ana Balashova (@coinjive)
September 5th, 2018

The Blueprint for Crypto Community Building?

A strong community behind the project is a gateway to success: whether the goal is to lure investors or pump the sales. But is there a perfect way to do it, and, most importantly, to not do it?

If it wasn’t for the community, crypto world as we know it wouldn’t exist. No fights between Tron and Verge holders, no debates on what’s better Ethereum or EOS. There would be no Bitcoin for fox sake!

Remember how it all started? Bitcoin took off only when the wealthiest people became persuaded that the digital gold had potential. Riches like Peter Briger, from Fortress Investment Group, Winklevoss twins, David Marcus, ex-PayPal executive and infamous, but very inventive (close to genius) Roger Ver – all splashed the future of Bitcoin with some of their own money back in 2013. They all took part in weaving the weirdest human web connecting people of various backgrounds and talents to make it work: from lumbering Mark Karpeles, former CEO of Mt.Gox to goofy Charlie Shrem, co-founder of BitInstant, the one to blame for fueling the success of Silk Road, a dark-web drug market powered by bitcoin payments.

If it wasn’t for the community it’s hard to tell what would have happened to Ethereum. And that’s not to mention 2016 and the imperfections of its DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). More recent events took place in the middle of 2017, when an unknown attacker utilized a critical stain in the Parity multi-signature wallet, stealing over $30 m worth of Ether within the course of several minutes. The number might have been as high as $180 m if there was no community to back the project.

A group of white-hat hackers quickly analyzed the attack and came to the conclusion that there was no way to reverse thefts and the only available option was to hack the remaining wallets before a criminal would. Utilizing the same vulnerability, they did the deed and drained the accounts, effectively stopping the attacker from touching any of the funds left.  As the result, the total value of saved assets was $179,704,659.

Is there any way to achieve that level of dedication and passion for the project?

Could newly launched crypto startups do it?

Engaged or not engaged?

Airdrops and bounty campaign were once on the top of the game. “Those are ‘traditional’ methods of getting more people into the telegram chat quickly. At the moment, these actions seem to be terribly outdated since most people they helped to attract are inactive. Furthermore, they consider bounty activity a ‘job’, meaning that they don’t care about the project at all. These activities can still pump the number of the project’s Telegram chat members and create some buzz in the social media – basically a simulacrum: a large number of subscribers can only indicate community success, while bounty and airdrops only give you the fake impression. We have tried bounty campaign as well, but it was of little help getting more interesting people,” – shares Kate Kurbanova, the head of Community Development & Co-founder of Akropolis, a tech platform designed to solve deep issues of the global pensions sector.

“Quality of engagement has always been more important, than being able to shamelessly boast about the numbers, yet often companies end up targeting more overall numbers rather than “organic” numbers.” – agrees Chris McClure, Chief Marketing Officer of Svandis, a community-powered research platform, aiming to provide analytical and visualization tools for professionals working in crypto space.

When asked about the worst performing community-building tools, Christina Roth, the Head of Communications at HERO, a decentralized solution for iGaming, admits that  the paid advertising was one of the worst from the engagement perspective: “Huge bounce rates and not much of an interest after the lead. But with constant buildup, you can convert this leads into engaged customers. Newsletters, push notifications, rewards, and, most importantly, good customer service can convert non-believers into advocates.”

And the best community-building tool award goes to…

“One of the most effective methods for generating really engaged community members for us was definitely forums. With special actions submitted in the right subreddits, for example, r/cryptocurrency received over 1000 upvotes, the top spot of the daily discussion and over a hundred comments below the campaign. In this particular example, we leveraged the language of the community “just hodl it” with a little twist in order to make them engage below our brand content. We were able to reproduce such campaigns in many subreddits like r/ethereum, r/bitcoin or r/bitcoinmarkets,”- tells Christina.

Kate Kurbanova from Akropolis, praises recent community quest: “We’ve been asking its participants to go through a series of fun and interesting tasks (solve the quiz, solve the riddle, find the hidden word) along with action tasks in telegram (e.g. tell us about the pension problems you have in your country) that drove the discussion and provided some interesting insights for both the community and team members. During this quest, our daily telegram message count raised from 50-60 messages to around 2000 at its peak – and the best thing is that these messages were quality ones, not just flooding.

It did really well in terms of community engagement, and we are working hard on the next one – this time with more content, promotion and better user experience.”

Yana Marakhonova, the Head of Community in Cindicator admits that offline meetings are also a great way to reconnect with the crowd: ”So far we’ve had two offline meetups with our local communities in Vilnius, Lithuania and Berlin, Germany. We believe that the ideal moment to host that type of meeting is around some bigger blockchain event. Those are the point of attraction for many people. They are all eager to discover something new and excited about the conference and the connections they’ve made or about to make. We intend to work more in that direction and hope to finalize our localization for Korean market in September, arranging some offline activities there. Our active community members are also spread around London and the US. They are very keen on helping us organize local events.  

Next step for us is meeting our audience in Hong Kong during Unblock Community conference, scheduled to happen on 9-10 of September 2018.  I’ll be here with one of our top traders and hope to catch up with local Cindicatorian face to face.” – shares Yana.

This is short commercial put together for as part of the Cindicator CNDCreative Challenge. – Pretty complex but clever idea with some real potential to disrupt market analysis.

It’s not all flowers and candies…

“Trolls and FUDders who pretend to be interested in the project, but in reality just want to cause confusion, either for fun or to sell their ‘services’, are a huge headache for Kate Kurbanova, the head of Community Development & Co-founder of Akropolis. “In most cases, they can’t really impact us because it is obvious that their arguments are not legit. But sometimes they can actually do harm.”  

But in spite of all the struggles, community building is a very rewarding process. As Kate put it describing their methods of dealing with troublemakers:  “The best way is to prove that offenders are not just being critical, but actually trying to damage the community. When other community members realize that, they start to defend the project themselves.”

At the moment of writing Cindicator’s ecosystem consists of over 113 000 decentralized analysts whos knowledge and judgment are enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI). These analysts are required to answer regularly updated questions on the platform. All answers are weighted and assessed using machine learning. Then, AI formulates market analysis that is delivered to the members of the Cindicator community through a chatbot. They can use that data to help make “the right decisions in markets with high degrees of uncertainty”. Basically, there’s no product without the community. So, keeping all those analysts happy is a huge challenge.

Problems are always there. Although they are changing depending on the market’s state, the root is almost always the same – it’s human nature,” – shares Yana when asked about the biggest troubles in handling her workload.

“First and foremost, you can’t make everyone happy. Ever. There are always people who dislike your product. In most cases, they can’t even explain why. And most of the times it’s not even a specific issue, just someone had a bad day.

Another problem is the knowledge gap. Anyone is free to join our community – some of those people have as little as no prior information about the product and the market in general and some have too much of it.

And even though, in most cases, their knowledge is not absolute or even backed by real experience, sometimes they’re just wrong. The second can often confuse the first, just due to a very authoritative tone and attitude.

We try to solve those situations with constructive dialogue. Just by putting all the facts and figures together, picking up some missing bits and pieces of information, appealing to the logic in a calm and polite way works most of the times.  And then, it’s community’s turn to decide which side to pick. But the major problem is still a language barrier. And the only solution is quality localization.”

Taking a deep breath, Yana wraps up her speech beautifully: ”Overall, community building is a never-ending challenge. There are no bad ideas, there is just a path that you need to walk with every community – and it will be different each time.”