How to not destroy your Web3 (NFT) community
In 2022, we saw an explosion of NFT generative projects take over the Web3 decentralization market. Sadly, out of those thousands of projects, only a handful of them remain active. So much so that the culture adopted the phrase “rug pull,” as in the rug was pulled out from under you, and you didn’t know what was going on. We saw many teams disappear as soon as their projects were minted out, taking the money with them. We also saw an influx of founders suddenly dying and going missing (always suspicious), which was a unique trend to watch. On the upside, we can now identify winning strategies for how to run a Web3 community for whatever project you’re looking to launch.
First off, what is Web3? Web3 refers to third-generation web technologies, which is an entire ecosystem of different technologies that will become popularized in the third generation of the internet. Right now, there is high interest in decentralized Web3 technologies, which primarily contain blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, tokenized assets, and NFTs. Web3 communities are groups of people that form around a specific project or technology set, most often seen around generative NFT collections, some with function value added or meant to help solve real problems.
Understanding the culture
Many NFT projects revolve around starting real businesses and serve as a form of crowd-sourcing for investment. These businesses are often marketed using meme culture, which is why we see many NFT projects themed around outlandish ideas and concepts such as Board Apes (BAYC), Pudgy Penguins, Kronic Katz (drugged-up cats), Mad Scientists, Chubiverse (chubby animals), and smoking butts. Despite the often playful and childish marketing premise of these projects, I found that people who have invested in these communities take the projects seriously but in a fun and entertaining way, as evidenced by conversations with members of these communities.
Does your project idea already exist?
So, how do you start an NFT-based project? The first question you should ask yourself is whether the project needs to exist and if it already does. For example, I’ve seen projects centered around suicide prevention, animal adoption programs, and third-world education programs launched as NFT projects. While these are amazing causes to support, it requires more effort to start from scratch with the possibility of failure (as most NFT projects do) than to simply put that same time and effort into an already thriving NFT product that would gladly take your support.
I have participated in numerous Twitter spaces where the focus of NFT projects is to introduce more people to Web3. Unfortunately, after the launch, I often never hear from them again due to a variety of reasons such as a lack of infrastructure, inadequate knowledge on running a business, or the absence of contingency plans for when things go wrong. Regrettably, this is a common occurrence in the NFT space. Despite this, members of these communities take these projects seriously while also having fun and finding solidarity in the community.
Do you mean community or customers?
For many people, buying into an NFT project means joining a community of like-minded individuals who share the same passion for NFTs, decentralization, and the goals of the project. This usually goes beyond just vocal support. While many can voice their support for a project, those who own the projects want a financial contribution in the form of minting out an NFT or buying virtual land to allow the project to thrive. Often, the project owners set their mint price lower than what they need based on audience attention. This means they might focus solely on the financial aspect of the project, knowing that they won’t fulfill the roadmap they presented to the community, or they rely on secondary sales of the project to be successful. For many decentralized projects, it was never about building a community. What it was really about was getting customers excited about the project so they would buy into it.
Is your project worth supporting?
While I’ve touched on duplicate projects and the intent of building a community, something people need to ask themselves before starting a Web3 project is whether it is a project that people should support, not just because they think it’s a good idea, but because it is legitimately a good idea.
You need to ask yourself:
- What are you trying to solve?
- Has this already been done before and if so, how are you going to do it better?
- Why would anybody want to buy into this project?
- What’s in it for them? What is the value they are getting back? (Without saying the value is the community!)
- Once you mint the project, then what’s next?
- Who can execute your plan that you can bring into your core team?
- Is this about solving a problem or making money?
The chain you choose might affect your success
One of the things I’ve noticed about the Web3 decentralization space is that people tend to stick with only a couple of blockchains. Because of this, choosing a chain that doesn’t already have a large following might affect your project’s success. At the same time, choosing a chain with too many projects might mean yours will get lost in the noise. You will want to do a lot of research on which blockchain ecosystem is right for your potential community and project. There is a chance you might find a blockchain that is perfect for your project but won’t be able to foster a thriving community around it. Your choice of blockchain can make or break your project.
Don’t operate in the shadows be present in the light.
Unless you’re the founder of Bitcoin, having people not know who you are can be a disadvantage. The best thing you can do is be open and transparent as a team. If something goes wrong with the project, your community will want to know who is responsible. On the other side of that coin, if your community knows who the team is of the project they are buying into, they will feel safer and more secure, helping to eliminate the possibility of the project being seen as a potential rug pull. Your project website should list every core member of your team with their socials available, so your community can look up who’s in charge. If there is a problem with the project for some reason, you should be honest and work to get ahead of the issue. While there will be those looking to create issues when things go wrong, the majority of your community will respect you for being honest. This kind of transparency in your community is known as being doxed, which means when your personal information is put out there on the internet for the world to see.
Run your project like a business
Often, I see projects start off really strong but then lose steam over time because the project is not treated like a business. The foundation of the project was not put together by a well-rounded team with each member having their own strengths. Unless you are a unicorn, different tasks should be delegated to different members of your team who are specifically there to solve those problems. This could be anything from coding to design to community management to leadership. There’s an old saying: if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with a team. This also refers to the speed of crashing a project into the ground. If you want to succeed with your project, you should do it with a team so that you have the time and manpower to prevent any issues.
Once you have your core team established, keep it that way. If you look to bring on additional roles, make them a secondary layer of your project. For instance, adding community moderators who believe in your project will benefit you, but keep them at arm’s length knowing that they can be removed at any time if they break any of the rules that you’ve established within that role.
Have a clear road map from the very start
Not having a clear roadmap for your project is the same as not knowing what your project is. You may have an end goal, but you might find it hard to describe the steps on how to get there. This is where treating your project like a business comes in handy. If you can lay out the exact steps from day one to when the project closes down, having succeeded in its goal, you are far more likely to succeed. I recommend that every Web3 project have a business plan, a project roadmap, a marketing plan, and have hired the proper counsel, including a lawyer and a tax professional before you start your Web3 project.
Being able to show that you have these at the start of your project’s journey will allow you to be far more convincing in your project’s success than without it. Both your internal team and your community will want to know that the project will be well taken care of. If they invest in it, they will want to see the project’s success.
Most Web3 projects’ marketing is about who is in the know and who can share the message. Often, when launching, Web3 marketing budgets are extremely small, but sharing resources with like-minded projects will help the ecosystem as a whole. A lot of projects hold spaces on Twitter for their community. If you can combine multiple spaces into one Twitter space, then the potential for your community to grow will be much higher than if you hold a Twitter space alone. This technique is referred to as cross-pollination, where communities share audiences so they can both grow.
Brand Ambassador Programs
Finding outside help will lighten the load of reaching new members of your community. Identifying people with the specific skill of building communities around Web3 brands or are a trusted voice in the community will benefit your efforts greatly. By starting a brand ambassador program, you can bring these key individuals into that second layer of your project, helping build the community to ensure your project’s success.
Depending on the individual, you may have to pay a large sum of money for their support or offer them a mint at the time of launch which they can sell to recoup their time costs. I would only offer whitelists to those who are loudest in the community or have strategic value in owning one of your collection’s pieces. If there is somebody who is of notable social value like an influencer, then it might be worth just giving them the mint rather than offering a whitelist because they might take offense to it, hurting your brand. For many influencers, they might see it as “Hey, here is the privilege to buy my product you know very little or nothing about.”
Either way, make sure that if you are giving away valuable tokens of your collection, what you receive in return is equal to the value of the NFT. You want to create a win-win situation for all involved.
Launching a successful Web3 project requires careful planning, building a strong community, and treating your project like a business. By following these tips, you can set yourself up for success in the fast-growing Web3 space. Remember, a well-rounded team with clear goals and transparency will help build trust in your community and allow you to achieve your project’s objectives.
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