Similar to Open Source Software, web3 is an industry that succeeds only through community—through active participation by developers, partners, investors, learners, and hobbyists.
Many have argued that the community-building principles of web2 naturally carry over to web3 communities. And although similarities exist, behaviors differ. As with web2, composed primarily of B2B communities, web3 requires the same intentionality and investment in building 1:1 relationships that foster commitment and positive engagement.
There are glaring differences, however. The most obvious is the velocity. Web3 communities can grow fast. Social media combined with decentralization can create growth engines that are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate, with owners more incentivized to promote their initiatives. The unique characteristics of web3 communities, regardless of go-to-market strategy—protocol or project, a Dapp or DEX—present community leaders with a number of challenges. In speaking with web3 Community, Product, and GTM leaders, I’ve identified 5 key challenges commonly faced when building web3 communities:
1. 📢 Noise, or being able to prioritize the right community activity
2. 🤖 Spam, or knowing which members and posts are valid and authentic
3. ➕ Sentiment, or proactively managing both positive and negative community activity
4. 👤 Anonymity, or listening for the right behavioral signals to deliver personalized experiences
5. 🔁 Feedback loops, or understanding and responding to feedback in a timely manner
In this post I'll go into more detail on each of these challenges, and how a tool like Common Room can help you overcome them.
A great web2 community may have 100,000 community activities within a given month. And these will probably exist across social channels, forums, and chat apps.
Web3 blows that number out of the water. For some communities, we’ve seen >100,000 activities in a single day.
With all that activity, it’s impossible to stay on top of what’s most important via the native apps alone. You need a single source of truth to see community engagement across all your channels and unlock intelligent insights.
A web3 Communications leader mentioned that one of the biggest issues they run into is prioritization. How do you know that this one complaint with 30 reactions should be the priority? Today, most web3 companies don’t, and the inability to prioritize hurts the company and its community members.
The hype and interest are real in web3. Unfortunately, much of that hype can be worthless both to the company and to its community. In fact, spam and bots can actually delegitimize a project and reinforce the wrong types of community behavior. It could even lead to a total failure of the project as people leave in droves to escape the overwhelming spam army!
When living in the native apps such as Twitter and Discord, it’s hard to know how many of those accounts and posts are valid, yet each takes the same amount of time for an individual moderator to process and respond. One DevRel leader mentioned that they spend several hours doing manual analysis of community activity today.
Sifting through spam delivers zero value and is just getting worse for thriving projects and communities.
Sentiment is an incredibly valuable leading indicator in any community. Through my work at Common Room, I’ve found that web3 communities experience a much higher frequency of community interactions with sentiment compared to peers in web2. And this makes sense.
One of the advantages of most web3 communities is the financial incentive tied to ownership. Unfortunately, that means that a project or protocol’s inability to get "in front of" negative sentiment can pose significant financial and even existential risks. At the same time, identifying and engaging with those community members that are advocating publicly and supporting others can go a long way in driving overall sentiment and thus, the ultimate success of the project or protocol.
In web2 communities, members are typically well understood due to their public profiles and the names and emails used. This makes it easier to make informed decisions on what will and won’t appeal to members.
Web3 provides very little of that, even in developer and ecosystem-driven protocols. The reason is because of where community takes place—Discord, GitHub, Telegram, and Twitter.
This lack of IRL identification means that the only way to deliver any sort of personalization in community experiences and engagement is by truly listening to your members. When a member shares their interests within the community or their wallet address, joins an event, or helps another member, they’re signaling what they care about.
Unfortunately, in the current state, it’s very difficult to capture this context programmatically to make it actionable, meaning that personalization and the creation of community programs that resonate can prove incredibly difficult!
The context and interactions in a community are exactly what the business thrives on. Who should you build for? Talk to your community. What should you build? Talk to your community. How should you talk about what you’re building? Talk to your community. What are the biggest concerns of our supporters? Talk to your community.
The answers are in plain sight.
The issue is that today, this feedback is shared sporadically and inconsistently—both in how it’s delivered and to whom. And since this feedback comes in across multiple channels, it makes it even more difficult to collate and communicate back. That means that feedback is getting to those that need it too slowly, or worse yet, not at all. One Community leader put it, "it’s seeing what things are taking off and getting a head start…see where to make moves, faster."
At Common Room, we’re well aware of these challenges and have built solutions to surface valuable community conversations for the largest of communities. For web3 companies, this isn’t just about community—it means survival.
For web3 communities, Common Room means that your team can finally surface all the content and users in a way consumable by the rest of the company. It means that all the time you would’ve spent reacting to threads (that your CEO flagged!), putting reports together, and grabbing anecdotes, is now spent going on internal roadshows, building high-value programs, and in understanding the impact you're making.
And as one web3 customer commented, “What I look for in products are tools that require 10% of the work (that we're doing today), yet get us to 90% of the value. That's what Common Room does for us.”
To better engage your web3 community and demonstrate its impact on the business, get started with Common Room for free. Want to connect with 1,000+ community and DevRel leaders all sharing expertise around scaling and empowering their communities? Join Common Room’s Uncommon community Slack.
June 22nd, 2022
7:00PM - 8:00PM UTC
Laís de Oliveira
Author of Hacking Communities
Community, Common Room