In an increasingly interconnected world, the success of projects and initiatives relies heavily (if not, only) on building, growing, and sustaining communities. The Web3 paradigm is founded on the idea of decentralization, which in itself is characterized by the lack of third parties intermediating any kind of interactions; be they transactional, commercial, or social. Therefore, the propagation of any decentralized project or idea is dependent on whether a dedicated community will be fostered around it. In other words, the more organic and vibrant a community is, the more established the purpose (and success) of a project. In the absence of a community, the future of a project — especially a decentralised one — is doomed to be short-lived.
With over a decade-long experience in tech startups and community building, we at Defiants are devoted to creating community culture. Our vision is to foster a new perception of “community” reconciling it with the current tech standards, individuals’ needs, and market trends. Hence, the thesis of this article is to break down community growth and community building as two different yet complementary terms that are often misunderstood. We will explore how our core services intertwine, ultimately leading to the development and expansion of vibrant communities. In addition, we will discuss the essential elements that contribute to successful community metrics and highlight the key considerations for project owners seeking to nurture and grow their own communities.
Community Building vs. Community Growth
The term Web 3.0 stands for the new era of the Internet; the decentralized Web. An era that aspires to disrupt the current centralized paradigm of monopolistic tech giants by enabling peer-to-peer interactions that run on DLT (distributed ledger technology) infrastructures. Since Bitcoin’s public launch in 2009, we have witnessed a massive movement of individuals organising themselves in self-sovereign communities and attempting to pursue their common interests and goals.
Fast forward to 2023, there is a vast typology of Web3 projects with different traits, governance structures, economic frameworks, tech stacks, and business models. From DeFi and NFT projects to DAOs and metaverse-based initiatives, each project has its own unique set of characteristics, yet all share one thing in common; the need for a community. Regardless of the specific vision & mission a project has, one thing is for sure: a vibrant community is the fuel that keeps (decentralized) ideas alive taking the form of natural selection in the digital era.
Being an experienced community accelerator, we deeply understand the importance of community and are in a position to tell a good one from a bad one. Nevertheless, Defiants are agnostic in terms of projects’ typologies. We don’t want to be dogmatic or become a barrier against this unobstructed liberty that the blockchain offers. On the contrary, we encourage teams to chase their ideas and manifest their creativity based on their unique skillset and identities. Our mission is to create community culture; and, this needs the right mindset. As inclusive as we can be, we are all about sharing our professional expertise while also providing empirical insights. We have set out to educate and empower teams, aspiring to shape, one project at a time, the rapidly growing Web3 ecosystem.
We very often come across confused teams and project owners, good ideas that execute poorly, or good business models with wrong priorities. Among the most frequently recurring patterns is that of projects looking to first raise funds, so they can build a service or a product to only then start growing a community around it. But, why is this the case? Our short answer is this: there’s a lack of community culture leading many startup projects to heavily underestimate its importance, which, in turn, creates confusion and a succession of bad moves. A great place to start is understanding the often misunderstood (even, used interchangeably!) terms: community building and community growth.
Community building involves the strategic development of a robust community framework, fostering a sense of belonging, and cultivating active engagement among members. It is about laying the essential groundwork, focusing on establishing the fundamental values, culture, and infrastructure necessary for a thriving community.
Community growth involves expanding the community’s reach, influence, and impact. While community building sets the stage, community growth is about harnessing the momentum and propelling it forward allowing for continued expansion and development. It is an ongoing iterative process that requires continuous nurturing, adaptability, responsiveness, and a keen understanding of the evolving needs and aspirations of community members.
Distinguishing between community building and community growth from the outset is of utmost importance for projects aiming to cultivate a successful and sustainable community, and the reason is twofold.
1) Understanding the nuances and differences between these two concepts allows for an appropriate allocation of resources, time, and effort, leading to more effective community development and engagement with clear precision and purpose.
2) It enables projects to set realistic expectations and milestones helping them define success criteria for each phase while allowing for measurable progress and continuous evaluation. By having a clear understanding of what stage their community is in, projects can establish benchmarks and track their progress, making informed decisions and adjustments along the way.
Now that these fundamental concepts have been spelt out, we’d like to introduce some sub-concepts that are equally important and collectively constitute the arsenal of Defiants’ skillset.
As seasoned community professionals, we have our own terminology that’s breaking down community building in a systematic manner, and, in turn, translates into some of our core services.
When it comes to the community side of things, undoubtedly the first move is community building, which comprises four main aspects: community activation, community management, social gamification, and network marketing, however, going into detail on each of those aspects goes beyond the scope of the present article. In fact, our approach page contains all the relevant information one needs to know to understand how we tackle this topic.
Aiming to straighten out some things for newcomers and startup project owners/teams in the Web3 space, what we want to highlight in this article is a broad recommended best practice in regard to the order of things to consider. Once the community-building strategy has been defined and put into actionable steps, the path towards community growth is carved.
Nonetheless, laying the right foundations for a strong community doesn’t always guarantee the growth thereof. Our formula for successful community growth does indeed start with community building, as it involves the strategic development of a robust community framework, fostering a sense of belonging, and cultivating active engagement among members. Through our expertise in guiding and facilitating community initiatives, we create an environment where individuals can come together, collaborate, and forge meaningful connections.
Yet, for the community-growth equation to be complete marketing, development and of course how appealing product itself is are the other three necessary ingredients.
- Projects that invest in a strong content pipeline with compelling and relevant content tend to grow organically their audience signalling enthusiasm and commitment.
- Vibrant communities that have been built around an MVP in light of a full-blown alpha version run the risk of losing their members’ energetic spirit when they fail to adhere to their roadmap. Don’t worry about doing exactly what was promised; worry about maintaining consistency in releasing tech updates and feature upgrades.
- Harnessing influential key opinion leaders and establishing alliances within the ecosystem can be great tools to facilitate organic growth and attract new members. There’s nothing better than the power of word of mouth and earned respect from the crypto community.
- Identify charismatic leadership in your project/team and provide the necessary space for it to flourish and lead a thriving community with great cohesion and a sense of belonging.
As we have seen, growing a community is often perceived as something easy or of secondary importance, while it’s among the first things a project needs to have strategized. Common misunderstandings occur when inexperienced yet enthusiastic project owners confuse building and growth, resulting in inconsistent moves that impede organic growth and evoke a lack of confidence. After all, walking the talk is always a good thing to do, even in cases where you feel unsure about a thing or two — that’s where professionals like Defiants come in.
In the question, “How can I grow my community”, we suggest you first brainstorm and identify what you need to have in your project as well as what you actually have at the moment, and, then, we can help you ensure prosperity and growth. Web3 is a rapidly growing and evolving space that relies on and is built by its communities, and so needs our perception around the community to change and upgrade to a new culture.