Before we get into the tips, first let’s get into some context. What exactly is a Web3 community?
What Is a Web3 Community?
A Web3 community is an online group of people with a shared interest in a Web3 project. Members of Web3 communities often have a sense of ownership in the project, and they can support the team to help the project succeed.
Web3 communities organize at two different levels: the blockchain level and the dApp/project level. For example, you have both an active community on Gamma (dApp) within the larger Stacks (blockchain) community.
An important difference between a Web3 community and other types of online communities is that many conventional communities require membership with verifiable credentials and account creation, while some Web3 communities permit pseudo-anonymous membership.
With an understanding of how Web3 communities work, let’s get into how you can build a thriving community around your project.
1. Pick a Blockchain Community
Various blockchain ecosystems have different cultures, geographical distributions, and degrees of cohesion. The blockchain ecosystem in which you host your dApp will influence the type of community that emerges around your project.
For instance, Bitcoin offers limited functionality and attracts users who firmly believe that money should exist independent of government. Solana encourages speed and scale, so it attracts users who prioritize fast and cheap transactions. Which blockchain you choose also impacts the size of the community. A widespread community like Ethereum has lots of resources and existing users, but it may be hard to stand out. Conversely, in a burgeoning, tight-knit community like Stacks, there’s opportunity to build strong relationships and focus on building.
As you can see in our most recent developer survey, despite the market downturn, the Stacks developer community is more inspired than ever to build in Web3. The members of the Stacks community still rate Hiro products with the same level of satisfaction as they did at the top of the bull run last winter. This shows that the Stacks community is here to innovate, not just to make a quick buck, but the same isn’t true for every ecosystem!
2. Build in Public
Building in public helps establish trust with users because it makes your goals, activities, and challenges transparent. It also holds your founding team accountable to the community. Users can share feedback and invite you to share the rationale behind decisions—helping them feel involved and invested in your dApp and also helping you clarify your own decisions.
Importantly, building in public tightens the feedback loop between what you are building and what your customers want. And when you build in public, sometimes the community will even help you by submitting open source pull requests and contributing to what you’re building. At Hiro, we work in public, which helps us build stronger relationships with our users.
Of course, building in public doesn’t necessarily mean that you expose your competitive advantages either. As our CTO Diwaker Gupta said, “code is not your competitive moat in Web3.” Web3 is inherently open source, and embracing open-source ideals helps your community members to feel involved.
3. Define Your Communication Channels and Strategy
Web3 communities exist predominantly across three channels—Discord, Twitter, and Telegram. When building your community, you’ll need to decide where you want to make your hub. Whatever channel(s) you choose, make sure you prioritize navigation and ease of use. Take the time to lay out various communication channels for your project and create pinned messages, so your community members can easily find resources they might be looking for, whether an FAQ, your website, your social handles, and everything in between.
When creating your communication strategy, it’s also important to remember that Web3 communities are global communities and are online 24/7, 365 days of the year. It may not be enough to provide community support for a single time zone or to have the whole team log off on a national holiday. You may need to triage with several team members in different time zones to be able to provide timely support and engagement.
As part of that strategy, you’ll also want to think through how you can minimize the time required to manage your community. For example, you don’t want your engineers to spend all their time responding to technical questions in the channel when they should be working on the product. To manage user support, consider building up a knowledge bank in either a public FAQ or a private document that other team members can reference to answer questions to help scale your work to support the community..
4. Make Your Token Distribution Work for the Community
Token incentives can be a crucial part of building Web3 communities. They can provide users with a financial reward for using the earliest version of your dApp even when you haven’t fully developed all of its features and functions.
However, it is important to note that while token incentives can help with adoption, a poorly structured token rewards program could hurt your community-building initiative. The wrong kind of token incentive structure could attract grifters and people looking to make a quick buck rather than actual users of your dApps. Even worse, financial incentives can stop some of your loyal community members from doing helpful work they would have done for free! This can bleed funding from the project and create a bad community culture early on.
It’s critically important to work with a tokenomics expert and consider the ramifications of how you distribute tokens. Some things to consider include:
- Rewarding users: Web3 projects sometimes reward early user activity with a token asset to incentivize beta testers and early adoption. How will you return value to the most committed participants?
- Distributing tokens fairly: When mapping out your token distribution, how do you ensure a fair distribution amongst your community?
- Keeping out spammers: You don’t want to attract community members just looking for a quick buck. How can you use token-locking and vesting schedules to prevent those tourist users from taking over your community?
- Reserving tokens to reward future users: You don’t want to burn through all of your token supply in your first year. How can you map out and anticipate your token needs 2 years from now? Now do the same for 5 years. And again for 10.
When properly structured, token incentives can make it easier for you to attract early users and align their incentives with the project: you and your community both have skin in the game and want the project to succeed.
5. Appoint Moderators and Admins From Your Community
At a point, you’ll need to hire moderators/community managers—whether full-time/part-time staff or volunteers. It’s best to look for active community members to bring on board as community managers rather than hiring freelancers to manage the community.
For one, existing members are already familiar with both the project and the community, so they’re equipped to answer questions about the project. They also likely have plenty of helpful, unique insights about how to boost engagement based on their membership experience. And assuming they’ve built relationships in the community, they’re well-positioned to resolve issues with users and boost morale.
How do you know who to make a community manager? Just pay attention to the interactions within the community. In most Web3 communities, some people will naturally emerge to answer questions from other users or kickstart conversation in a channel with a witty meme. These are the kinds of people you want in a community role, provided they can commit to the hours you need. Just send them a private message to gauge their interest.
6. Collaborate With Other Web3 Communities
Your Web3 app doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) live on its own lonely island. Grow your community by building relationships with other Web3 communities and startups. Cross-community networking is an opportunity to reach new users and provide learning opportunities for your existing ones. Conferences, Twitter Spaces, and webinars are effective ways to share knowledge with other experts in your field, providing value to your existing community by bringing in outside guests to share their knowledge. Those guests in turn bring their own community along, helping you grow your own reach in the process.
Bridging your project to other ecosystems can also be a way to access a whole new set of potential users. For example, Web3 blogging platform Sigle plans to offer blogging services to users on both Stacks and Polygon; and TradePort (formerly Byzantion) offers an NFT marketplace for users of both Stacks and NEAR. By going multi-chain, you can build a more diverse Web3 community that is loyal to your product and not just a particular ecosystem.
In What Blockchain Ecosystem Should You Build Your Community?
The above tips work concurrently to help you grow your Web3 app’s community. But again, the blockchain ecosystem on which you build your dApp could be the most important factor that impacts the makeup of your community.
Web3 ecosystems offer developers different degrees of technical freedom, security, scalability, decentralization, latent capital, and network effects, all of which contribute to shaping your community.
Would you like to learn how different blockchain ecosystems compare and shape communities?