It seems like everyone in the space wants to build or join a DAO. And all DAOs start as small groups. Then as these groups grow they get more serious about how they organize and share value. That's what Web3 tools are here for: organizing resources and distributing ownership.
Cooper Turley describes DAOs as "Telegram or Discord chats with a bank account". And indeed in most cases DAOs today are performed more than they are actually decentralized or autonomous. And that's ok. We’ll see the new more sophisticated iterations of tokenized communities emerge in the next couple of months and years. But for now DAOs are still at the bank account or treasury stage, the first step in a multi-stage process.
In this post I’ll unpack how you may start growing an engaged community for your DAO.
In any organization people are the most important resource. Even if DAOs look to rely as much as possible on technology they follow this same rule. In order to succeed you’ll need to figure out how to attract talent and create a culture. You'll have to recruit the right people and keep them engaged.
The attraction phase is all about making yourself visible to the right people on Web2 platforms like Twitter.
In recent years content creators have accrued massive audiences by creating content that 1. their community enjoys and 2. complies with platform algorithms. The same rules for success apply to you here. Attention is scarce and content is your elbows in the crowd. Make sure to incorporate it as a core component of your community's culture.
Next, another powerful leverage to attract people ****is your community members themselves. Members of a group share a piece of their identity. This collective identity is one of your strongest selling points.
Have you seen how people in the Web3 space display exclusive NFT avatars as their profile pictures? How they display such or such community in their Twitter bio? We’re all “status seeking monkeys” and we’re always on the hunt for things to enhance our individual identities. This is part of the hidden value your community can provide.
Cryptopunks are a typical example of an identity signalling tool. Having a Punk as a pfp sends a very clear message: "I'm a Crypto OG”, “I'm wealthy", “I know people". The result is that Jay-Z now has joined the CryptoPunk party.
In the early days and through your journey you'll need to understand what your typical "community member persona" is. Who are your most engaged followers and what they are looking for. The point is to understand what your collective identity is. i.e. How members may distinguish themselves from the rest of people.
In the Attract phase, pick your favorite social platform and engage with the people who get your vibe. There's no secret to it. Some successful creators I know sometimes spend up to 80% of their time on Twitter. Beware of not getting burned though because it's very easy to do so. Here is a fairly blunt tweet on growing visibility on Twitter.
Once you've created meaningful relationships over socials (yes, internet frens’!) you can open a more private Telegram or Discord chat and start recruiting the most promising people.
Having people who care and participate is the most precious thing for your community. A "high quality" member is one who is intrinsically motivated and provides support over a sustained period of time. Those who contribute time instead of capital tend to be the most valuable and rarest contributors.
In the early days, curation of new members will happen organically. through the process of getting to know and feeling "attracted" to each other. In the longer run as communities grow to dozens, then hundreds of members, curation can become more of a challenge. To deal with this you can put in place more formal filtering systems.
Some member curation processes are centralized while others are more community driven. Be pragmatic with your initial choice. At SuperRare we’ve bootstrapped with a manual and centralized selection process which has helped make curation consistent. FWB, one of the most successful tokenized communitiy out there uses a community-led committee to review and select applications. Holding the $FWB token now is only a prerequisite to having your application reviewed.
For even more advanced communities, one curation system that has proven successful in the recent past is the Mirror Write Race. A weekly on-boarding event where people campaign to get upvoted by $WRITE holders and gain access to the blogging platform. I’ve tried to break it down here back in February. Every week the Write Race is a community rendez-vous that generates interactions and a sense of belonging among members. Weekly participation sits at 30% which is way above industry average when it comes to token voting mechanisms.
See the excellent in depth analysis by Andrew Hong.
Note on token distribution: in early stages of community building, illiquid tokens with some status attached seem to do best at retaining members. If you look at engaged or successful communities like Mirror or CryptoPunks, tokens have either 1) high barriers to entry 2) or have been fairly illiquid for most of their history. On the contrary most fungible tokens tend to be 1) low barrier to entry especially in the early days 2) and fairly liquid. Make sure to take that into account when leveraging tokens to recruit community members.
A successful community is a "many-to-many" social environment. This means turning a community member's experience from a single player to a multiplayer one.
Find the right activity. The thing that resonates with your peers and that is better done as a group. But do not lose focus. Your goal as a community builder is to have community members engage with each other, the activity itself is a secondary concern. That can be a weekly mix contest if you’re a music oriented community (the Disclosure community does it!) or a weekly on-boarding event like the Write Race if you’re a fairly advanced community with a token. There are other cases of communities gathering around NFT curation, gaming, P2E, business courses etc.
The choice of the activity depends on your community member persona and community purpose. See it as a first step towards a longer term goal. See it as a way to get members acquainted with each other. Over time It'll help the community move and work better together. Above all, see activities as a way to accrue energy and momentum in your Discord and Telegram. The more community members interact, the higher the chances for magical and unexpected things to happen.
That’s the very first step. You’ll know that you are mastering the -Attract, Recruit and Engage- cycle once you have a core group of people engaging on a recurring basis and growing traffic in chats and socials. I see those things as the primary signs of a healthy community. Now, as Alex Zhang likes to say: community building is more akin to gardening than it is to architecting. Remember to be open to unexpected projects or ideas. Consider embracing whatever emerges from interactions among members. \n \n In upcoming posts we’ll chat more about tooling and how Web3 can be leveraged to retain, align and organize your community in more or less sophisticated ways. Thanks for reading!
Without waiting, jump in SeedClub's Discord to chat, ask questions and tell us where you'd need help. The deadline to apply for SeedClub’s third accelerator cohort is tomorrow! \n \n You can also DM me @albiverse on Twitter.
Many thanks to: Lauren from SuperRare, Patrick, Li for reading early drafts and Nicolas for the design work.