Community Management during an ICO
Preparing an ICO is a complex project not only due to a lot of unanswered questions (we have for example talked about legal issues in one of our last posts here) but also resources and manpower. When you are targeting potential contributors world-wide and expecting a big number of investors instead of a few whales this is a major part of an ICO to plan out smartly and have the right people on board.
The community management is a challenge due to time zones, languages, range of interests and channels — every single person who gets in contact with you is a potential contributor. The faster you are with your answers, the more active you are in various channels, the more credible you appear compared to your competitors, the more likely people will invest.
The best option is finding someone that comes from your community/fan-base and slowly grows into the job. You need to have someone credible and communicative to stay authentic. For some cases you also need a person that has an account with history already because for example on Reddit certain subreddits have rules where posting is only allowed with a certain level of karma.
Most of the time is spent dealing with all the questions that arise on the different channels as quickly as possible. It is important to ensure that this happens at a reasonable rate because the digital world is extremely fast-moving and potential investors lose interest quickly if it takes too long — the competition on the ICO market is just too big to rest.
It is also very important that the community manager is organized and has some knowledge about the features of the various channels (how to grow, personal messages, pinned messages, blocking, spamming etc.), which we will discuss below.
One of our big challenges was the management of different time zones, which means that at least two people are needed for this job. We have hired someone in Europe and Australia, making sure that no questions are unanswered for too long.
Of course, you need to make sure they are fluent in whatever language you wish to generally communicate in — in our case English and German. We do recommend though to have some additional people from the community that would help out in their language if need. In our case this were some Asian languages and Russian.
A certain level of crypto knowledge and an interest of the field you are operating in- eg esports or online betting — is necessary.
In best case they even „think for the company“ by bringing up new ideas that arose in discussions.
To keep the community happy and growing, it is important to act in the various channels instead of reacting. It is not uncommon for several hours that no user-driven communication takes place. If someone checks back after a while and sees that the last message was a while ago they may not take the project seriously. So community managers should also constantly work their way through media searching for articles and contributions about the project to share them and keep the discussion going.
Also make sure to feed your community managers with all the relevant information on anything related to the team, the ICO, partnerships etc. This not only helps him/her to not be surprised by rumors but also to actively spread good news and plan the communication ahead. Especially in case of bad news or problems it is very important to give the community management team some time to find solutions or good wordings adapted to each community and their language/tone of voice or even prepare visuals etc.
Select the right channels
Choosing the right channel is by no means negligible, as you must always be aware that each channel must always be maintained. However, it is important not only to use a single one, but to find a good mix to address as many people as possible.
The two most important channels to communicate directly with the community are clearly Twitter and Telegram. Twitter is used by a large number of people and with the hashtags it is possible to draw attention in remotely related topics and communities.
If you use Twitter the content & community manager need to align, because we have seen a much better response when tweeting up to three times a day than compared to less tweets. Make a weekly plan on any content that you can share and split it into several small Twitter messages.
Telegram is much more direct and offers the possibility to pinpoint important messages so that new users are always up-to-date. Here, however, we found that it would have been quite useful to start a second Telegram channel, where only announcements are posted, so that the channel is always kept clean and clear. With a certain number of follows/group members posting official messages in the public channel is a irrelevant because they just get lost.
Bitcointalk and Reddit are obligatory and urgently recommended. It is important to start the respective thread with accounts that have already reached a certain level in the community to increase the acceptance and make use of the full potential of the channels. As on any channel make sure you follow discussions, show presence, step-in when wrong information is spread.
Of course, there are still countless other channels like Slack, but this platform is now no longer recommended, since simply too many scam messages can and will be distributed and annoy the communication flow as well as all members. We, like many other projects, will most likely close this channel in the foreseeable future.
We also used Facebook for general communication and sharing of media coverage or news. We were lucky to have an existing community on our product channel and therefor had a crowd to start with. For our coin we opened a new account that grew to a little under 7000 fans within the ICO time. Facebook was very important for our bounty program since it allowed sharing (not only our own posts but also paid ads) & commenting as well as posting in other crypto groups.
On our website we installed a chat function which was less of an interactive communication as we saw in Telegram but more of „quick&dirty“ question answering often from people who were less experienced in the crypto or gaming world and haven’t heard of the product before. The tools you have with such systems — like pre-defined answers — help you to be able to answer fast but also forward different messages to people on your team with different experiences.
We also started to use Medium and Steemit but the amount of community management on those channels is very low. This was more of a marketing tool for us or publish longer content that then again can be shared with the community on other channels.
The most frequent were, related to the general ICO process, how to participate and the duration of the ICO. Also, the supply was regularly topic in the debates.
Even though we had a very informative website in place with all information and whitepaper available.
A very big part of the community management in our case was handling information about the bounty program.
We set-up a system where our community members & investors were rewarded for spreading the word by sharing, posting, uploading, joining channels & commenting. The most common questions here were: “Where do I have to report?”, “How much do I get?”, “Where do I see how much I already get?” and especially “when are the bounties distributed?”.
During the ICO most questions were about the process of buying, questions about different wallets and especially on how to manually add tokens. The technical team reacted fast and wrote some guidelines, which the community management then could base their answers on. If second level support was needed, the technical team was also helping out of course.
On this issue, we must concede that we should have published some details earlier and communicate more clearly. An overview of the receivable shares would have been very beneficial. This could avoid a lot of frustration and constant explanations.
To sum up and share our “lessons learned” after successfully completing our ICO we can say:
• Start communication activities as soon as you decide on doing an ICO and grow your crowd, so you have a good base when it gets serious or the launch day is about to come
• Find committed, serious, experienced and charming community managers
• Tweet daily with hashtags and $PLAY to raise awareness
• Open two Telegram channels — announcements and community
• Avoid slack, since it´s more effort than it has advantages and so many scams happen there
• Use established accounts in the forums
• Clear communication with the bounties
• Be open to criticism, actively ask for feedback and adapt your strategy before negative press is hitting you
Some of these might sound like clear things but once the ICO storms hits you, you easily forget the simple ToDos.
Let us know if you’re planning an ICO and have questions or tips for us and the community to extend our list :)