Community. The word gets a lot of lip service in web3, almost to the point that people scoff when it’s mentioned, but the fact remains that community is the key to decentralization. Blockchain is what makes meaningful, horizontal connections between projects, companies, and people.
Last week we had an opportunity to come together in Paris with both the global NFT community and, most importantly, with the Rug Radio community. Leaning into building our community around our core value, decentralization, is what has made Rug Radio successful and maintain rapid, sustained growth during the bear market, even while other projects rugged or hemorrhaged members and engagement.
Rug Radio represents core values of decentralization and empowering voices globally. Understanding our ethos and building our business, marketing, and community around those values is what has made us successful. We want to share our playbook on how to build community, bull or bear, whether you’re a project or an artist.
Understanding value, both that you offer and that the community offers to the growth and strength of a project or artistic career, is key to a successful strategy. What are you in the business of? What value do you bring? Most projects don’t realize it but they’re in the entertainment industry. Participation in an NFT project is an entertaining experience and as long as members are entertained, they’ll stick around. Artists, collectors and community members are attracted to the narrative that the artist unfolds through their art and content and collectors personally identify with that narrative.
So what is community, exactly? Without a doubt, the most important role of community is to establish identity and help members find like minded people. Understanding this, any project or artist can figure out the central “pole” that members gravitate toward as part of your community. It could be a single core value or set of values (e.g. decentralization). It could be a type of experience (e.g. channeling the inner child and making fart noises on spaces). It could be a particular benefit (e.g. professional networking).
For artists, community can be built a bit differently. The main connection of your collectors is to you, your story, and the narrative you create through your art, whatever that art is.
What does your community come to you for? Entertainment, meaningful social connections, an opportunity to express their identity, or to demonstrate and live their values? Whatever it is, it’s important to recognize that and be consistent in your messaging, actions, and pace. In order to stay ‘top of mind’ in an economy based on competing for attention, never assume your members and collectors will maintain interest in you. The best way to maintain their attention is to have a regular, reliable rhythm for the communication and delivery of whatever your “pole” is. Even if it’s once per week with larger content and daily with small bites of that larger content.
They also need an ROI on the investment of their time, attention, and money in your project or art. Knowing your pole offer and delivering that with a consistent rhythm will help you maintain delivery of the value your community seeks from you.
You can also create a system of blockchain-based rewards to nurture and return value to the community members who invest in you with their time and attention and who share you with their network. Since the launch of our Rewards Program, we’ve seen a roughly 30% increase in engagement and membership across the board of metrics. You give value to your community but they also give value to you beyond buying your digital assets. Rewarding that value is an important way to provide a tangible and entertaining way to ensure ROI to members proportionate to the value they add to the community and project.
Another important aspect of any social relationship is communication. The key point here is to listen to your community, even the FUD. This is valuable feedback about what you can improve on with the delivery of your pole experience.
However, on the same note, it’s important to recognize that the community is not capable or, usually, interested in helping you create strategy for long-term growth and success. They don’t understand all the factors you’re dealing with in making decisions, so they generally can’t offer informed opinions. Additionally, their primary concern is their own bags and they will often push you to adopt the ‘meta du jour’ or other short-term strategies to pump their bags, no matter how misguided, unproven, and irrelevant to your project it may be.
Also, for projects more so than artists, understanding how you can adapt your strategy for a bull or bear market can be helpful. In a bull, you might have more cashflow and people are frothing with excitement about the next Christmas casino drop. To stay competitive, use your budget on leaning into entertainment.
During the bear, when the budgets are tighter and people are struggling to stay in the market, focus on creating meaningful horizontal connections (connections between members that give them a feeling of belonging in your community) and rewarding people for their sustained attention and engagement.
At the end of the day, whether you are a project or an artist, you’re building and serving a community around a core concept that is meaningful to you and your members or collectors. Understand your value and deliver consistently. Recognize and reward your community. Listen to them while also staying true to your vision and don’t give up.
Rug Radio is the proof that knowing your pole, building around it, and delivering consistently is the way to maintain sustained growth, bull or bear.