Understanding the Mechanics of Blockchain Ecosystem Participation
Open source software projects rely on strong communities of developers and enthusiastic advocates to deliver product or service innovations and stimulate market demand.
This means that project creators often have to ensure a delicate balance is maintained in order not to undercut the needs of user communities in favour of driving ecosystem token sales. Otherwise projects will face user adoption challenges and consequential negative brand associations. On the other hand, a lack of focus on sustainable business models or viable token economics can spell doom for a project before it even takes off.
Recognising the value of project ecosystem participants is critical to the implementation of an effective community building strategy. This means that a community building approach that caters to engineers, developers, potential investors or customers has a higher chance of yielding the desired network effects.
Blockchain development is a space that has clearly shown the importance and advantages of having a well coordinated community. Almost all thriving crypto communities have several things in common when it comes to aspects of community building, growth and management. These include:
- Having a clear vision for project;
- Establishing transparent community contribution guidelines;
- Fostering advocacy by encouraging community members to evangelise;
- Providing incentives, tools and resources that encourage participation on all levels of project development;
- Communicating the value of contributions and rewarding the community for their efforts and dedication; and
- Creating consistencies in key messaging concepts and a project’s vision, roadmap or code of ethics.
According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of community is the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common. These attitudes contribute to the creation of a common trust such that inconsistency can breed a lack of trust, which ultimately destroys communities. Even communities that rely on trustless systems.
Creating A Unified Vision
Crypto communities are typically comprised of individuals or groups of people that believe in the promise of a project. The reputation of a project and its credibility or good standing all depend on the strength of the community and network. Crypto projects with the strongest communities have:
- Active community members;
- Reliable community support and communication channels;
- Consistent community contributors, developers, and community growth marketers;
- Participants that value, personal privacy and human rights, transparency, openness, and professionalism; and
- Well-managed feedback and reporting mechanisms, etc.
A good community building strategy focuses on converting speculators into productive users and builders while also promoting a unified long-term vision of the project in line with the communities’ values.
Community Is Critical To Ecosystem Growth & Survival
Community is about ownership, interests and stakes which can sometimes make open-source projects susceptible to contentious forks when the community’s vision or interests become misaligned. These forks can spell disaster for a protocol.
The key to maintaining cohesion in the community and to ensure that technical or ideological differences don’t escalate or lead to a fork is to create mechanisms for dispute resolution and instituting fair practices and good governance models for the community.
With respect to financial or commercial viability of projects, communities play a major role in crowdfunding projects and crowdsourcing ideas and developments. A passionate community is instrumental in building awareness of the product/service, nurturing brand loyalty, and providing feedback which can help the project provide more user-friendly offerings.
Since blockchain technology is still nascent, most projects do not have enormous budgets for marketing. Having a strong community guarantees free organic marketing through word of mouth via social media. In addition, veteran community members often act as first-line support for ecosystem entrants or first-time users of blockchain-based products/services including ecosystem tokens.
Building Sustainable Communities
For a crypto project starting from scratch, it’s important to create a compelling project narrative and communicate the founding team’s values, ideas, and attitudes in a clear and concise manner to potential community members. Most of the biggest crypto communities have a social media presence that is engaging and value-adding. This requires identifying platforms where potential ecosystem participants are active and putting good community management channels in place.
Most crypto projects with large communities typically have substantial participants on social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, WeChat, Discord, Telegram, Clubhouse, etc.
Content placement on such online media platforms is a common strategy that crypto projects looking to expand their communities employ. Furthermore, the publication of project status updates on platforms such as Medium or LinkedIn or press release placements on popular crypto media sites is common among projects with strong communities.
Community participation in tech, design, economics, gaming, or other relevant forums is another way of bringing awareness to a project. Many of the top crypto projects utilise these channels to spread the word about initiatives they are passionate about.
Sustainable community building efforts involve engaging community members regularly by initiating discourse around important project developments or giving community members voting rights so that their ideas or concerns are taken into account.
Allowing community participants to test software products and offering bounties, holding competitions or hackathons is also another common method used to keep the community engaged in a meaningful way long-term.
Crypto projects with the strongest communities such as Bitcoin or Ethereum although different in many ways, have many things in common as far as their ecosystems are concerned. Even more important are the advantages of establishing such loyal and passionate communities because they:
- Serve as touchpoints between technology adopters and the broader consumer, retail investor ecosystems;
- Proactively build the developer ecosystem and maintain collaborative relationships with blockchain and other startup communities;
- Ensure the projects’ value propositions are communicated clearly to ensure brands are positioned, deployed and supported globally;
- Devise formal and out-of-the-box influencing strategies, such as building behind-the-scenes support from important opinion-formers;
- Assist with the development and fostering of relationships across different markets globally;
- Help develop and manage direct relationships with key stakeholders and subject matter experts to ensure solutions are aligned with their goals and priorities;
- Drive connections across the token communities to increase impact;
- Identify and track relevant community metrics and participate in the managing of communication channels; and
- Proactively build and maintain external networks to access, absorb and apply technical/professional best practices.