Community Management At The Age of Community Ownership
I share some thoughts on community owned organizations and the implications this new model has on community management
Welcome back to a new issue of this newsletter. Here we try to figure out the arcane of community building using Web3 technologies.
Not so long ago, community managers were still an interface between companies and their communities. Similar to social media managers. At that point community managers really were an interface with a community of consumers. Producing content, answering questions, creating marketing initiatives, and gathering feedback for their team.
But as social media became more pervasive, organizations could sustain a permanent relationship with their users and users could also keep in touch with each other online. At that point, the role of community manager started becoming more strategic. A new generation of startups and organizations started integrating community to their organizational and product design. Think about how Substack is leveraging its community of writers for things like mentorship programs or even as an organic marketing engine.
The Dawn Of A New Generation
The latest generation of organizations is community-owned and operated. This innovation takes roots in open source and crypto. These organizations operate online and with a much greater degree of accessibility and transparency. Community is not part of their design, but at the heart of it.
These projects are built with a community persona in mind. Their goal is to maximize value for a whole group instead of a single separate user. Therefore they are group minded and not individual minded.
For a decade the benefits of running a community-driven business have been proven. As a way to scale -AirBnB could never have reached this level by marketing real estate on its own-. But also as a way to obtain retention, engagement, word of mouth, virality. Impacting many beloved metrics like LTV, churn or sales.
But in the latest generation of organizations, community management gets to a whole new level. The community is one with the organization and participates in product design, governance and promotion. It is part of the adventure from day one. Think Bitcoin.
Community Management On A Whole New Level
As more and more of an org's operations move online the community virtually moves inside the company's headquarters. In the CEO's office or the marketing department. The founding team as we knew it now goes way beyond the office doors, it operates on the ground with other stakeholders.
Community managers now take care of community operations like a COO would do it for company operations. Community treasuries, voting systems, operational roles... As the technology for ERC-20s, NFTs and the dapp ecosystem mature, new templates for various organizational functions emerge and spread quickly.
Lately, this tweet has made me think about badges and non-transferable tokens as a way to structure online communities further. To shape their social topography.
Badges -whether transferrable or not- can be distributed to community members as rewards or proof of attendance. But they can also have utility. For example by granting access to special features on a platform or to exclusive collaboration environments and chatrooms.
At SuperRare I'm hoping to explore the potential of badges and how they can act as a bridge between community and product. In the longer run, badges can help make the experience of community members more evolutive and dynamic.
Exciting Times Ahead
The number of tools in the hands of community managers is growing fast. And I'm expecting community to become a whole 'department' in any modern organization.
It starts with Bitcoin, Ethereum, yearn.finance, tokenized communities, and creator platforms. But the social trend for communities is real all over the world in artistic, activist, and entrepreneurial circles. With different flavors and styles.
The innovations we've seen emerging in different places at the margin are slowly melting and merging with each other in templates. The playbook is being written. Communities are learning how to operate and own businesses and they are doing better and better at it.