Networking & Community management for STOs/ICOs

Why do you need community management for your STO?

To get a better understanding of this question, we should define the difference between ICO and STO target audiences.

For an ICO marketing campaign, the main goal is to attract attention and reach as many retail investors and enthusiasts as possible by using tools such as bounty campaigns and airdrops to create a large community.

Sergey Baloyan

Entrepreneur, Founder of X10 Agency. Participated in 20+ ICO/STO projects as Marketing and Investment consultant, professional CMO. Obsessed with digital economy and fintech.

In the STO campaigns, however, the target audience is different (although many accredited investors put their money into ICOs). The marketing campaign should be oriented primarily towards well-experienced, financially savvy professional investors. These people are the ones who don’t make decisions based only on a project’s hype, they instead trust the reasonable numbers and rational arguments. That’s why the main goal is to inspire confidence, show all the benefits, and help them conduct the required due diligence.

We can’t say that there’s a linear dependence of the project’s performance on working with social media and involving professional investors, however, pretty much every fund looks into the dynamics of the project’s popularity, the size of its community, and the inner communication between the community and the project’s team. It’s a rather indirect factor in evaluating the economic appeal of the project, but it’s necessary.

The size of the community is especially important when your product is aimed at the mass market. In this case, it’s necessary to show investors a significant number of real or at least potentially interested users.

There are three important factors that many people overlook when saying that social media isn’t needed for an STO:

  • Never forget that, aside from the tokensale, the company has a product/technology/innovation/service which lies at the basis of this company, and this directly implies that there should be consumers of these resources and services, the company’s clients. The actual or potential client base is important when making an investment decision, because the demand for a company’s product directly affects the future income of investors. And the more users the project has, the more they are active in all social networks (including the Telegram chat platform) the more chances they have of attracting a fund.
  • The situation that we saw more than once during the ICO campaigns was that there were a great number of “silent” investors who may be inactive in the project chat, but they still stay in it to monitor the activity and the founders’ responses to the questions from the community.
  • In the industry, directly or indirectly related to cryptocurrencies and tokens, everyone has long been accustomed to public social media and Telegram chats for projects. Everyone uses chats, including Asian investors, despite the fact that an active marketing campaign in these regions requires creating separate chat rooms for the local community in local messengers/social networks, such as WeChat in China, KakaoTalk in South Korea, Line (along with Japanese Telegram chats) in Japan.

STOs aren’t a short marathon, as it often was with the ICO. Here we need the most thoughtful approach and the more serious and prepared a project is, the bigger the chances of a success are.

Can you give us some examples of successful ICOs where you’ve created a community along with some information about the type of project it was (a separate blockchain or dApp), how much the ICO raised, and the size of the community?

What is the target audience that should be gathered in the project community? Is there any difference in the target audience, let’s say for the blockchain platform and for DAPP?

The audience that we gather in the project community strongly depends on the project itself, its specificity, and its stage of development. We can classify all communities into several categories:

A. The market where the project operates and where its target audience is — Here we attract the potential customers who will be using the project’s product/service/application/platform. This is especially important for the B2C market.

The important metric here is the number of downloads of the beta version of the product, the number of registrations and/or users of the platform/dApp, the number of developers that joined the project, activity, and feedback from the community. All of this clearly shows the potential demand for the final product of the project and a huge part of the work in social media should be focused at motivating users and calling them to these actions.

It’s also useful to publish statistics on a regular basis: the growth of users, how many companies (including the Memorandum of Understanding stage) potentially joined the project, and so on. Everything that can be expressed by numbers, and everything that shows the growth in demand must be published.

B. Technology used in the project — Often, a community that is somehow interested in technologies and innovations become attracted not only to the idea itself but also to the way the technology (blockchain, AI, ML, etc.) is used in the context of that idea. In this case, we attract technology enthusiasts who are very useful in a practical sense.

C. Investors interested in your STO — These could be fund managers, representatives of investment associations, scouts, or individual accredited investors who have invested in ICOs previously.

To attract professional investors, it’s important to formulate an interesting investment offer right from the start, because in most cases you won’t have a second chance with investors and funds.

Professional analysts can audit your offer and your materials and give you feedback on them from their partners — experts and investors. After this, you can send these materials to funds and start arranging personal meetings, meetups and calls.

At the stage of communication with funds, the services of IR (investor relations) professionals are also important — they have the actual contacts of funds and know how to properly build primary communications and organize private meetings. The services of a professional IR manager will greatly aid your project in reaching its potential. However, the direct mailing of a good investment teaser can also be useful.

Regarding the certain need in the target audience — why does the project actually need each of these channels (and does it need all of them at once when conducting an STO)?:

We usually recommend that a company has its own pages on:

Facebook
LinkedIn
Medium
Twitter
YouTube
Reddit
Steemit

While everything is pretty obvious with Facebook and Twitter, I would like to talk a bit more about the importance of other platforms.

LinkedIn

The profile of the company should be maintained very carefully on this platform, because it’s a network where the main concentration of the STO’s target audience is — professional investors, fund representatives. Try to upload as much info as possible about the company and list all members of the team and their skills. In many ways, LinkedIn is a business card for professionals. Here you can also potentially find all the necessary members and advisors.

Medium Blog

I want to particularly mention the topic of blogging. The most functional and popular blogging platform is Medium. The main purpose of maintaining a blog is to provide detailed answers to all questions, from the most important ones to the lesser known ones.

On your Medium account, you need detailed posts that prove the expertise of your team as a whole and your team members in particular (especially the CEO and CTO) writing about your industry issues, explaining all investment and legal aspects of your STO. There should be the constant updates both on company news, the progress of STO conducting, the progress in technical solutions and project development, as well as personal reflections on the subject of the industry and various interviews. Don’t forget that even a small reminder about yourself and the project’s progress is better than dead silence.

The materials in this blog can also be used in other social media platforms, (where the main posts are usually more adapted to the appropriate platform) and must also be used on thematic platforms with crypto enthusiasts and investors, such as Reddit, Steemit, Bitcointalk, and so on. Aside from other benefits, it will give your publications huge coverage. In this case, it’s not that important where and how the first or second touch with the client happened, the main purpose of the blog is to create interest and to build open and confident relations with a potential investor.

YouTube

This task is also always perfectly fulfilled by a YouTube channel, where an investor can see the face of the company. There can be the standard promotional videos about the company, the project itself and the technology, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, the demonstration of the concept/product/service, interviews with team members, videos of speeches from conferences, live Q&A/AMA streams, and so much more. Regarding the video component, it won’t hurt to create a bunch of small videos (often animated) that briefly and clearly explain the main idea of the project.

What are the minimum audience numbers needed that will be considered acceptable (as per the campaign’s goals) — taking into account that a professional investor is mostly interested in the potential demand and the dynamics of the project?

That depends on the stage of the project itself, the existence of the prototype/MVP, and its mass adoption potential. For ICOs, social media could have thousands of followers, mostly small retail investors, attracted via targeted advertising, and bounty and airdrop campaigns.

You can have 20,000 silent followers on Facebook or 2,000 active and interested users. It also depends on the nature of the awareness about the project.

You should plan the awareness campaigns in advance, predict them, and think about how to present them correctly. For example, an update in product design or some additions in the form of a special feature in various projects were announced by us in the form of a community vote — what do they like the most or what update they consider crucial. For the users, that’s the direct involvement and participation in the development process. For investors, it’s a good sign of a client-oriented approach and potential demand.

With regard to the specific numbers — the more the product is focused on the mass market, the more people should be reached out to and attracted. In our experience, for infrastructure projects in the b2b market, 1,000 to 3,000 Facebook followers seems like a fine number, and mass b2c projects (depending on what stage they are in) should have 5,000 followers at the very least. There are no limits really. Again, the most important thing to keep in mind here is activity, quality, and interaction with the audience.

What is the minimum budget you should reserve for community management in order to achieve the minimum target KPI?

For targeted and contextual advertising, you must reserve a test budget (of at least $20,000 — $30,000) for primary tests and evaluation. Then you can plan a budget more precisely. The campaigns themselves are classified according to the goal. Attracting an investor and attracting a user who would download your application (which is also important for an investor) are two different goals that differ by approach and tools.

The cost of social media management (SMM) starts from $2,500 per month. The project will be handled by a team of four people who create and design the visual style of all the social pages related to a project. They create and implement a content plan, write, design and upload the posts (on average, one post per day), create awareness and public image of a project in social media, and work with thematic sites and messageboards.

You should also reserve at least $4,500 per month for community management, to be carried out by a team of four to six people (on average, this depends on the size of the community), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The team will be responding to all community questions as quickly as possible, moderate messages and incoming requests, work on engaging and retaining the audience, create and complement the project’s FAQ, fight spam and scammers, and also send invitations to join the community in relevant message boards.

What mistakes involved with the creation and support of the community allows a client to say goodbye to a professional agency?

Bounty campaigns and airdrops are pointless — STOs are oriented towards professional investors, and although maintaining a presence on large social networks is always good, this is the case when quality is more important over quantity. Besides that, such methods of attracting potential investors is legally prohibited when it comes to STOs.

Community management can be divided into two main components: the social networks of the project as a product, coupled with the community of its potential and actual users, and the social networks of the STO/ICO campaign of the project. There are some cases when they are separated and are managed separately, but it’s a mistake to do so.

The key to success lies in a complex approach to the marketing campaign: public relations, working with influencers, distributing information on Reddit, and thematic message boards and resources, getting to the top by certain hashtags, and other activities often regarded as growth-hacking tools.

In all these aspects, the professional STO agency that already knows all the beaten tracks actually keeps their finger on the changing market’s pulse and monitors the mood of the investment community. They will always perform the marketing task better than the project’s team by itself. In addition, practice shows that it’s cheaper to hire an agency and pay them for work than to do it by yourself and pay for all your mistakes.

Summary

Here is a brief summary of the key points:

  • Social media and their management and promotion are an important part of any marketing campaign, including those on the STO market. Although it’s necessary to understand that it’s just a supporting tool, you can’t find direct and large investments in social networks.
  • However, for professional investors, this is one of the important evaluation factors, as it shows the demand for the product, the mood of the community, and the growth dynamics.
  • Social media pages with a lot of content and followers can be useful for another goal — they help attract media attention, get rated by various ratings and listings, and are important for influencers, who are more likely to pay attention to a well-received project. In any case, this will help to reduce the budget for all of the abovementioned channels, saving the project a little bit of money in the meantime.

Can we regard social media management and community management as the most important parts of an STO campaign? No. But are they necessary? Absolutely.

Questions asked by Alex Savinkin

Former number cruncher in investment funds & strategy consulting. One of Geekforge Founding Fathers. Blockchain and technical singularity true believer.