I Built It
In any shape and form, community shapes us and we shape it. Community is a part of what and who we identify ourselves with and becomes part of the story that tells the world around us who we are. Communities create value for it’s participants in various manners.
It’s about value, it’s about people..
When it comes to communities that value often comes in the shape of connecting people to people and offering inspiration & motivation as well as forming a pool of recourses and support.
But what I personally care about is; do people feel that, by being a community member, they have obtained something valuable? Or, more accurately; Do members feel that, by being a part of the community…their knowledge and understanding has increased, they have made valuable connections with other people, their perception of the brand has changed for the better, they have contributed value back to the community & that they are heard (both as individuals and as a community)?
These are important metrics to me when it comes to measuring community value.
I have mentioned in my previous article that I know from experience that a branded community that is informed and educated, a community that feels listened to & shared with is a community that is engaged, productive and tends to feel connected to the brand. In that article and this one, the focus point is around Community as a Service for branded communities in particular.
Now let me tell you a story about when my friends and I got together to talk about a blockchain start-up and I saw the future of Community as a Service.
It was not all that long ago when the ICO craze was raging in full force and blockchain start-ups were funded by their respective communities by millions upon millions and sometimes even billions of dollars. Not all that long ago, yet it seems so far away now with current state of the ICO & blockchain space. However, the merits and devolution of the ICO model (or the growth and future of the blockchain-crypto space for that matter) is beyond the scope of this article.
Besides, it wasn’t at all the funding of these blockchain projects that caught my attention and got me excited.
It was October 2017 and by then countless of blockchain start-ups had entered the space and the competition was on. It was a competition for getting people’s attention as well as developing the first blockchain solutions (perhaps, for some, it was more about the former than the latter). In this highly competitive space I saw a trend emerge that sparked a vision in me for the future of branded communities.
Some friends and I got into the Telegram group of one of the most promising blockchain start-ups in the space. Drawn in by speculation at first, we were eager to discuss trading talk, market talk, speculate on use cases and the sorts. They however have a strict policy about not allowing speculative or market related talk in their group.
So there was a community need growing for a space where speculative and price talk around the company could roam free. As such, one community member took the lead to create a separate group for that. Not long after that, I joined that group.
What I had seen by that time and in the year that followed was a large growth in the use of Telegram groups founded by all these blockchain start-ups. There is not a single one of them that doesn’t have a Telegram group. Being relatively new to the space at this time, it did not immediately dawn on me why all of them did have a Telegram group.
Back to the group I joined..
It was a bout a hundred members in size when I got in. We followed the company’s progress, discussed the publications they put out and mired over the potential use cases and speculated on token value (as was the norm in 2017).
As was the case with a lot of blockchain projects the white papers written to inform the public about the workings of the project could be a bit hard to take in. And likewise for pinning down exactly what it was they offered as a company. There was a lot of technical jargon and on top of that these papers described products and services in forms and shapes that have never existed before. Not in this format at least.
So, it was a bit abstract at times to say the least. There were many community questions. Not just on the types of products and services involved but also on the crypto-economic mechanisms and consequences of such mechanisms.
The Role Was Tailor Made
For the past 20 years I have worked in healthcare, as a specialised nurse at first and as a healthcare consultant after that. During that time I practised the art forms of music writing & audio/video production. Composing a story, creating a narrative that people could relate to and identify with. Making people feel a certain way after they take in your piece. Next to that I have delved into the financial markets with analysis and trading and over the past couple of years, blockchain as a technology and emerging market as well.
Through my prior work experience I have been engrained with a broad pallet of communication skills and understand the utility and power of delivering it in different formats. I know how vital transferring information is. Transferring it in a way that turns something previously unfamiliar and complex into something accessible, digestible and understandable. In other words: education.
But education isn’t just about information transference, it’s about interacting with people, being able to read them and learn what they respond to. To find out and use what moves them, what is valuable to them and finding what makes it click for them. Not just the skill of reading people and emotions, but also how to appeal to them. Wether written, spoken or through use of visual & audio material, teaching is, in itself, basically another art form.
I have always had an innate urge to take disjointed pieces of material or information around a certain theme or subject matter and reshape and re-package it into a newly joined piece. Even when things are compiled and neatly aggregated by someone else I can’t help to disaggregate and recombine and re-package it. It’s part of how I internalise something. And the beauty of that process is that the result is always greater than the sum of it’s parts. It turns knowing into understanding.
Back to me finding myself in that blockchain Telegram group..
Like I said there were a lot of questions coming from within the community that needed addressing. Simply re-iterating paragraphs from the white paper was clearly not working. It didn’t take too long until my cultivated reflexes started to take over and as soon as I grasped the contents and scope of the project I took the lead to educate and cultivate the community. I answered questions, wrote articles, recorded podcasts and made video’s.
As pointed out, it was more of a reflex at first on my end. I like to structure things, I am a good communicator, I know how to connect with people and I know how to educate (it was, after all my profession for the past 20 years). I also have a very strong vision of how all these things should come together and be shaped to form a product and how that product should be delivered. In this case it the product was delivering a certain value packaging the other person would not have acquired alone.
So I started to add my signature if you will into every one of these communications. And it was so much more than ‘simply’ managing the conversation in Telegram. The trick was to look beyond the Telegram environment in terms of reach (for instance reaching out to the company partners and getting one on one sessions with them to get material for writing a piece). But then funnel it back into Telegram. It’s where all the exchange of information was happening. It’s where all the actual people & conversations were. I also invited partners into that Telegram community to have Q&A sessions there.
Not only had I been a valuable source of information for the community, I took on many roles in what was basically Community as a Service pored into a certain mould. I was a Community Builder, a Community Manager, a Community Liaison, a Community Educator, a Community Motivator, and even a Community Brander. I provided that community with their own name and story they could relate to; an identity.
It was the amalgamation of my all my previous professional and artistic roles and experiences. And it worked. People responded to what I delivered. People connected, people were talking, people were informed, people were raving about the company and it’s prospects and they felt included into it’s environment. And absorbing the value package I put out, they felt like they were being offered more than just the sum of it’s parts… more than a simple repackaging of existing material with ‘Glen sprinkled on top’ (patent pending).
It was not only about connecting and informing but also about motivating and inspiring.
They felt heard, they felt represented and they saw me as their community representative. And I was also inherently part of the community. Through this project I not only developed a whole product, it also deepened my understanding tokenomics and how it should be applied properly.
So value is very much a two way street when it comes to community.
People from this community were letting me know that they highly valued what I delivered. And you know what? I think it’s one of the best informed, productive and brand loyal communities in the blockchain space.
This community turned out not only highly knowledgable, they felt like they were included, they identified with the brand and nearly all of the Proof of Concepts for the developer challenges that the company held came out of the stable of that particular community. So it carried a high degree of participation.
But the wonderful thing is..
Telegram was basically all that I needed to not only build the community but to educate, inspire, gain influence and get people to participate. It enabled me to build and nurture a community.
It’s Community-in-a Box!
Telegram was instrumental for me in bringing all of the roles and activities together into one neat package that was easily digestible and accessible for the community.
You can read why I am such a fan of this platform in this article I wrote. I indeed refer to it as a platform and not just a messaging app. (link to Telegram-centric) It’s clear that Telegram offers so much more than an app to text your friends and family with. Like I have written before (link to CaaS), a lot of blockchain start-ups have started to wake up to this growing need for open and easy to access communities and and some of them realise that Telegram is highly enabling in that department. Sadly, despite this growing trend, many are not leveraging this to it’s fullest potential.
The experience of community building on Telegram opened my eyes to the fact that not only can you build and nurture a whole community right inside of Telegram, but that the way I packaged and delivered it was: Community as a Service Simplified. And also social media simplified. All data is organised and distilled into one place. Telegram is highly enabling for this type of product delivery.
Not to turn this into a sales talk for Telegram (there is more of that here; link to Telegram Universe), but to break it down in short; it’s highly enabling, highly secure and It saves you from having all your people and conversations around your brand in a dozen other different places. No software to maintain or to pay for. And it’s what a lot of users already know and have in right in their pocket.
This further got me to thinking. Not only is Community as a Service something that I had been doing without me realising it at first, the format in which I was delivering it is a product in itself: Me with my background, my skills and experience & Telegram as the platform to deliver it on.
As I was used to aggregating together information and education pieces (like wise for my art creations) to reshape and deliver them. I had also done exactly that for Community as a Service on Telegram.
it’s Community-in-a Box!
I have started a company that centres around the delivery of Community-in-a Box.
This is basically a stack of community oriented roles & services molten together and pored out as one product (Community-in-a Box). It is a Telegram-centric Community as a Service (CaaS). I have built a company that delivers Community-in-a Box.
The company is called: Melt. For an executive summary of Melt, make sure you visit the Melt LinkedIn page and drop me a message to say hi and ask me any questions you may have.
You can catch my latest interview for OSTlive where I talked about CaaS and Community-in-a Box right here.