How to start and grow a Web3 community

AYS runs a Web3 community platform with over 70,000 members.

Publish Date
May 12, 2022
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What does AYS do?

Advertise Your Server (AYS) is a marketing agency specializing in growing online communities themselves, as opposed to businesses. This mainly happens on Discord and Reddit. AYS helps target communities better, facilitate discussion over products and services, talk to their team and build a community around their businesses. It really helps to do while trying to build a product.
The primary function of AYS is helping users market & advertise their community. This might involve consulting, paid marketing, advertising services on behalf of the community and marketing through listing sites.
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90% of their customers are people looking for free content. They provide a lot of free services like podcasts, blogging, newsletter writing, etc. Think basic content marketing. 10% will pay them to handle all their community needs (development, aesthetics, moderation and management). Sometimes they’ll also have a community manager that they’ll work with.

👨‍👨‍👦‍👦 Target Audiences

AYS works with a wide range of companies, but most are in the crypto and NFT space. It ranges from building new communities all the way up to enterprise clients.
Often times, clients want to build a community before dropping a project. They do this by building their own community up with free content.

📝 Describe the growth project

When it comes to growing a community, each one is different. You can’t really predict your ROI with community marketing like you can with ads. It’s a lot harder to retain members than a social media page, but also infinitely more valuable. You’re consistently talking to them, but just because they are “in” your community does not mean they are an active participant. Are they just a “member” or are they actively engaged? There’s a big difference.
The main way to grow a Discord community is through “listing sites” for communities. An example might be a search engine for Discord. Think of it this way: if you’re making a website, you’ll want it to be easily searchable within Google for people who are actively seeking the solution. If you are selling blenders, you might want to appear as a top result for things like “best blender of 2022” or “most powerful blenders”, depending on what you sell. Community listing sites work in the same way. You type in a keyword and you’ll get a list of (hopefully relevant) results. Communities can go to these sites, add their community and the listing sites will rank for you. This is great because they also have really good SEO, which dominates for you!
screenshot from discordservers.com, a listing site
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Many of these sites also have tags to separate the communities based on keywords. Instead of using “SEO” (just putting in keywords), you want to do “bumping”. Basically every few hours you go push-bump on the listing sites so it pushes your discord server to the top of the list. The listing sites want to make sure the community is active. If a server hasn’t been bumped in 6 months, it’s probably dead. You can read more about Discord Bumps here.

🚀 How do communities generate growth?

Communities sit at the inflection of growth and product. Particularly in Web3 companies, your community is your product. To flip that around, if you don’t have a community, you don’t have a product. For these companies, the growth of their community is tied directly to the overall growth.
This is different than “traditional” companies, where a community that’s a small % of their customer base is seen as a large success. Still, building a community (if you can) is almost always a great idea. This is especially true if you have a new product or are developing yours.

😍 Why is community a great growth channel?

  • Even a small community will generate a loyal following that will support your mission and help you grow.
  • Communities will give you direct feedback on your product, even before you launch.
  • Community members are much more likely to recommend your product, whether that’s directly as a referral or advocating for you more generally where they hang out online.
  • Communities are starting to take over the space online where social media used to dominate. Don’t be a laggard!

🤔 Downsides to using communities to grow

  • Communities take a lot of work and focus to build.
  • You must have something for a niche community of people to get excited about. It doesn’t have to be your product, but should at least be directly related.
  • Keeping communities active can be challenging in the beginning. It’s a long game.

🏗 How to build your own community

You have got to have a unique community. General communities will not take off without a unique selling point.
Be active
  • Staff will have to be active in the beginning.
  • If the owner is not participating, it won’t survive. Even an enterprise community will die if the owners don’t participate.
  • Do giveaways and challenges – things that encourage members to participate.
  • Have weekly events or something.
  • Crypto + NFT communities can give stuff away for doing actions.

Getting initial members

For communities with no ‘business’...
  • Post in listing sites.
  • Try partnerships. Discord servers will have partnership programs with similar ones where you advertise each other in channels. They can pull members from a different community into theirs. Not Super effective because of spammy partnerships.
  • Post in existing communities that don’t solve the problem you are.
  • Figure out where users of your niche hangout. Post content there and start engaging.
For communities with a business
  • List your community site on any listing sites you can find.
  • You’ll need your server link, server name, other info and submit.
  • Some have a review and submission system.
  • Pull on the customers you already have, and pull on people who may be interested in your product.
  • Listing sites also often have paid models where you can bump yours above the others.

Use auctions

When you visit a tag on a listing site, you get a list of communities. You can often bid on a specific tag with a max budget to appear on that “leaderboard” of impressions on the page. Basically works like CPC ads. Usually have 5-10% CTR.
top.gg runs on a weekly basis bidding each week
discord.me - here you don’t bid on a category, but on the entire slot. You get a massive banner at the top when you win. They get 100’s of thousands of users a month. If you win the bid your server will be at the top for the month. This can get you hundreds of signups a week if you do this.
Cost changes each month but can go from $500 to several thousand. There used to just be one but now there are 5 slots.
A lot of people are very analytics and business driven when building a community for profit. But again, remember that community members are WAY more valuable than social media followers. # of members is not what you should focus on. Focus on active members and conversations.
Communities are slow to begin with. It might be $2 a member to start in terms of Cost per Acquisition. But over time the community will start to grow itself, combined with dominating SEO.
Bonus Hack: On Discord you have “bots” that do automated tasks from an API library. You can add to your server and it will pull a bunch of information from the server and add it to the listing - including graphics! This will keep everything up to date. Developers can put these actions into their code to automate tasks.
There’s “automod” for example, which does auto-moderation if it detects someone acting unruly. The only issue is you have to tell it SPECIFICALLY what to do, so it won’t catch people arguing or certain content issues. You’ll still have to have human moderation.

You can join AYS’s Discord server here!

(users with the Discord app will be invited to join if you go to the link)