Building Community in Web3


For this first issue, I had planned to send out a summary of the development of the web from the perspective of a content creator. You know, something to define the territory before we begin our journey together.

But last week I was part of this incredible AMA with Amber Atherton, who is the Head of Strategic Communities at Discord.

That seemed a lot more interesting.

Since you’re my Alphas, I decided to set the roadmap aside. Instead, I thought I could share what I took away from this conversation.

The discussion covered a wide range of topics, from marketing to driving engagement. Much of the conversation was focused on growing and maintaining the communities of larger organizations. So I’ve done my best to re-frame the main points to make them more useful to creators like you and me.

Building Community in Web3

Web3 X Marketing = Community

If we’re going to build in Web3, community should to be part of our marketing plan. Traditional marketing skills and tactics will still be needed. But as we make our plans, we should be asking ourselves “Is this the best choice for the community?”

Users, especially those who are new to Web3, will be looking to our communities to provide a feeling of trust and security. They want to be able to ask questions without fear of being treated like a fool. So we’ll need plenty of empathy and a willingness to educate... A lot.

Our community members will come to us to learn the basics of blockchain technology and how to navigate it. We’ll need to be proactive in teaching them how to avoid scams and protect their data.

At the very least we should be sharing the reliable sources we’ve found on these topics. At best, we should be providing this information ourselves. Our experience, our unique point of view is why they’re here, after all.

Connection is Key

We need to let our personalities shine through. Be approachable. It’s the personal conversations with us, the creators behind our communities, that will drive engagement at the beginning.

I can attest to this myself.

Many of you might have been wondering, some of you out loud :wink:, why you had to make an account with Paragraph to sign up for this newsletter. I didn’t have this experience. Or, I didn’t notice it. As a publisher, I wanted an account when I signed up.

Fortunately, Paragraph has a community. And the founder, Colin, is in there on a daily basis. Within a few hours of asking about this user experience I got a response. Within a day, the requirement was removed from the process. And in the future newcomers won’t have to do more than submit an email address or connect a wallet to subscribe. With a little less friction, Paragraph’s product is better too.

A Community Building Framework

We should put as much effort into defining the purpose of the community as we do our content. There’s a value exchange happening here. So we need to decide and clearly explain what the user gets out of joining. And we need to be just as clear about what we expect in return.

As we design an experience we can be proud of, we should work with intention. Do we want our members to be helpful? Do we want them to share their knowledge and experience?

Optimizing for raw engagement isn’t waht we’re looking for. If we do that, we’ll end up with a community full of “grinders” posting pages full of mindless comments.

Once we’ve figured out how we want the members of our community to act towards each other, we can think about how we’re going to encourage it. Here are a few options Amber recommended:

  • Post a ranking of top members on a regular basis. (You’ll drive more authentic interaction if you DON’T tell anyone how the ranking system works)
  • Provide badges(NFTs anyone?) for those that consistently earn a ranking.
  • Use the badges to provide exclusive access to you, a private channel, or some special content.

If we decide to build rituals inside our communities, we need to make them personal. Don’t settle for a simple “gm” channel. Encourage members to post a photo of their morning brew along with a greeting. Love pets? Create a space for members to share photos of their furry friends.

And once we’ve got the vibe we want, we need to build a referral flywheel to encourage our members to share the community with others.

Selecting and Structuring a Community Platform

Choose a platform that meets the goals of your community. Each platform is suited to different needs. Based on the purpose of the community do you need a platform that:

  • Provides the best customer service and support?
  • Allows for a free form exchange of ideas?
  • Makes it easy for community members to share their own content?
  • Encourages members to collaborate and form their own groups?

Answering these questions first will make it easier to choose.

And be prepared to work across more than one platform. Social networks are a great place to recruit new community members. It’s much easier to follow on Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram than it is to join a community. So draw them in with testimonials and screen shots of what they’re missing in the community.

Welcome Them Aboard!

Once someone makes the leap from follower to member, be sure there’s a formal on-boarding process to make the most of their arrival.

They’ve come for something more than another content feed. They want to interact. They might even hope to contribute. So we need to make it easy for them to find what it is they’re looking for.

Three Key Roles

In the beginning we’ll wear all the hats. But as our communities grow, we need to think about handing off some aspects of community management by filling three specific roles:

  • Creator/Founder

This is us. It will probably always be us. We set the vision and lay out the long term goals of the community.

  • Community Manager

The Manager acts as the host of the party and sets the vibe for the members. They create the structure of the community and set the guidelines.

They own the on-boarding process. They’re the first personal touch point inside the community. They should make sure each new arrival is welcomed and facilitate connections to members who are more established. As the members begin to interact and engage, the Community Manager should identify and recognize Super Users.

The Manager is also responsible for creating and measuring the metrics that define the success of the community.

  • Moderators

Moderators are charged with keeping the community a safe, productive space for the members. They enforce the guidelines set out by the Manager. And as a direct connection to the team, who is active in the community on a daily basis, they provide support and ensure the success of the members.

Speaking of Metrics

Some of the things you can measure will come to mind easily. Stats like:

  • New joins
  • Number of members active every day
  • Member churn (It's gonna happen. But how much is the right amount?)
  • Ratio of active members to lurkers
  • Heat mapping contributions of users in each channel

Because they’re obvious, there are already (in Discord at least) third party bots like MemberCount and Statbot available to track them. Some of these stats will always be helpful. But as your community matures, you’ll likely start to view these numbers as vanity metrics like follower counts on social networks.

Because the space is so new, the tools to measure more nuanced data are still in development. Until more automated options become available, there are some data points you’ll have to collect manually and evaluate with a gut feeling instead of a dash board. Things like:

  • What’s the quality of engagement between users?
  • What is the overall sentiment among the group?
  • How long does it take new members to find their “place” on the group?
  • How long do they stay engaged?

It’s All About Community

From building in public, to customer support, we’re going to need to build a place for our people to gather so that we can all succeed together.

Many thanks go out to Amber Atherton for sharing her time and insights as well as Katia Yakovleva at for arranging and moderating the discussion. If you’d like to sit in on future Beyond AMA’s, they’ve been move into Twitter spaces. I hope to see you there!

Web3 - ELI5

This week’s ELI5 is… “ELI5”

It’s an Acronym for Explain Like I’m 5.

I’m not ashamed to say that I had to google this when I first started learning about Web3. I stumbled upon an educational project called OdysseyDAO and this acronym was everywhere. I’d heard the expression before, but I didn’t make the connection.

Having trouble wrapping your head around a Web3 concept? Send me a note at and I’ll do my best to distill it in a future issue.

Getting Meta

Subscriber Count: 32 (I’m totally blown away by this. Thank you!)

Churn: 0% (Can it possibly stay this low?)

Alpha Claims: 0 (???)

What’s an Alpha Claim? Reply to this message with your public address and you’ll find out soon!

If you haven’t taken the time to set up a wallet yet, I’ve got a step-by-step tutorial on how to do that here.

If you’re wondering “What’s a public address?”, you might find this playlist helpful.

Still here? This one ran a little longer than I expected. Thank you so much for reading to the end!

And thanks for making room for me in your inbox without really knowing what this was all about.

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