📜 Course Description
🗝 Key learnings
Managing community: Pyratzlabs, a use-case
In this session we are joined by Alexandre Nannucci and Bilal el Alamy from Pyratzlabs, to discuss what it means to build on an external communication plan in terms of community management. Pyratzlabs is a unique hub: it acts as a creative studio, in which they edit their own art collections from traditional art into NFTs; it has an accelerator program, helping to bootstrap and launch Web3 projects; and it even offers things like hackathons, intrepreneurships, and an academy program. Additionally, Pyratzlabs hosts a physical NFT gallery in Barcelona as a place in the ecosystem where artists can exhibit their work and participate in the collaboration lab. They have taken the core competencies of their tech developed over 5 years, and offer this as a platform to creators and influencers to use as a digital production kit to finance the finality of a project. As Pyratzlabs sees more traditional artists coming into the Web3 world (for example, a traditional post-impressionist painter has a piece exhibited all over the world and they are exploring turning it into an NFT), the pressing question to resolve is ‘how to create trust?’. In the journey from a traditional art world into a new, discovering how to sensitize and democratize the value that traditional artwork could have as an NFT is their mission.
Cherish existing community
On the subject of building and maintaining a community, Pyratzlabs’ positioning is in conversion. But how do you convert or bring people into an NFT community as a means and not as a finality? Nannucci reminds us that ‘community is central, but it is pre-existing’. As we discussed in earlier sessions involving a communication plan, leveraging the existing community representation that already exists is key. We hear so much about building a community in the Web3 space, but it’s important to remember that a network - consisting of leads, clients, repeat customers, members, advocates, and friends - already form the bedrock of an existing community. Rather than shocking your current circle by jumping into cold water, education and onboarding into a Web3 project should be a diligent but gentle process. In terms of managing a community, the sweet spot is to meet in the middle: bridge the traditional world and current clients in Web2 to the new world and clients in Web3, through a project. After the internal stakeholders have been consulted about a journey into Web3, the next most important category is the community that is already built. Share the struggles and progress you have made, create feedback loops and demonstrate external representations of your lessons learned via 1:1 meetings, emails, FAQs.
It’s important to stay humble as it is a constant learning curve navigating this new terrain. For instance, when building a community from scratch for a particular partnership, Pyratzlabs worked on a media plan for 3 months to carefully curate the community and think through the strategy. They tested the trust and value of this project, that of the artwork being hosting on an NFT platform, directly through the artist’s network - namely that of his family. Launching a project with a pre-drop and pilot community can help NFTs reach equilibration between a price and quantity. Starting with small, well-defined communities and iterating from there allows for assumptions to be tested.
Building from scratch vs. building up
It takes work to build a community from scratch, so if your project is not landing on an audience, take a transversal approach. Take your time and think long-term to keep high conversion rates measured through the engagement of a community. There are progressive approaches being made, such as the NFT drop managed through Pyratzlabs, in which a notorious french artist minted 100 NFTs for the first part of the launch, but only released 10 or 15 to go slowly in the acquisition process. A careful unfolding of artistic goods in a market typically operating at breakneck speed builds trust, establishes credibility and accountability, and rations out rewards to increasingly maturing buyers.
El Alamy suggests to deliver partner communities, for example through sponsorships, popular influencer and niche influencer collaborations alike. A mix of partnerships has the capacity to reach large audiences, and targeted people as well. Connecting with new or broader audiences doesn’t necessarily need engagement with an influencer each time; give people the right aesthetics and visuals and encourage them to re-share tweets. Eventually these form the edges to reach new nodes in your growing network. Of course, it is difficult to create or convert a community into Web3 while using Web2 tooling. In the case of Pyratzlabs, their positioning goes through creative content production for the artists, mainly through Instagram. Instagram and Twitter spaces have been curated over many years, and currently there exists no single Web3 social space that competes with Web3/Crypto Twitter. When we look at instances of unstable Web2 tooling for Web3 projects, we need only look at the hacking of Bored Ape Yacht Club, in which millions of dollars in NFTs were lost. We are still exploring paths of evolution out of Web2 tooling. In the meantime, it is unrealistic to have 5 different Twitter handles for each project as there is a scarcity of time and resources. Consistency and regularity is critical so curate your social media to fit your projects and think long-term. Nannucci advises that if there are resources available, hire somebody who knows the code of the space you wish to navigate in who can produce quality-based social media content. Content serves as the visual verification of production; as such, the less scripted and more visual content is, the easier it is for the audience to disassemble the data and digest.
Legitimate virtual communities or glorified gambling communities?
There is plenty of online discussion which suggests that crypto and its associated Discord servers are in a state of glorified gambling. While there is undoubtedly some truth to this when you take a look at the number of crypto scams circulating the few dominant social media platforms, broadly speaking Discord is still the most used tool in NFT projects and amongst Web3 art afioconados, this is still true.
For example, artblocks has succeeded as a dedicated and active server, in which they give a general introduction and history of Web3 art and engage with long-term discussion from the Web3 tech side as well as the curators who create content and discussion around generative art. Other servers are more curated, not only in terms of the artwork but also in terms of membership. NFT Speakeasy allows users to enter chatrooms based on an NFT in their wallet, and may only enter once the NFT is purchased. Women of Crypto Art or WOCA, is an example of a dedicated discord community which lends itself towards a more humanized (rather than ‘boticized’) server. However with the exception of a few dedicated and popular servers, traditional art communities tend to be concentrated in more niche corners of the internet.
Managing the virtual social space
When using tools like Discord and Telegram, you should ask yourself what your are trying to achieve; are you simply creating a bulletin board for posting documentation? The concept of channels in Telegram could be a great tool for simply posting content, news for the community, and to push information without having bot interactions and scams. Or is the server or channel to be used for engagement and discussion, potentially decision-making? Adding a responsive function can make a server or channel vulnerable to scams, so it is advisable to add verification levels, roles, and levels of access to stem these interactions. Setting up a discord is not just operated by the push of a button, so leave time to tackle the learning curve.
If you are launching a Web3 project, people must do cross-references. Without a Twitter account for example, or something on your website to demonstrate an understanding of the code being spoken and that you are actively involved in that community, trust will diminish.
DAO & Governance
In the scope of community management, DOAs and governance practices are only tools; they will not solve the inertia problem if people simply don’t care. DAOs with on-chain voting requiring a token to take part in governance and decision-making won’t solve the interest problem, if people in a community are not engaged. When people believe in a project, are engaged and invested for early on - both financially and emotionally - (like for instance the typically 4 to 5 people who do all the work for P2P projects), builders would do well to nurture those relationships with people who care to help goals be achieved. Inertia can be due to many variables, from community mismanagement to nefarious intent on the part of a community member, for example if people would rather use a governance token to speculate, exchange, and cash-out, rather than to hold it and vote internally. General advice is to consider your use case. You might not need a DAO and governance for a decision-making process, if other voting tools might be ‘good enough’, such as quadratic voting (a ranked multiple choice system). This is just one of many different solutions to govern decision making processes in an organization.