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How to build a Web3 Community for your SaaS?

We discuss how you can build a web3 community for your SaaS with insights from community experts and SaaS founders.

We curated the best expert teachings on how to build a web3 community for your SaaS. Let’s go!
Updated on: 14/05/2022
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Note: SaaSwrites is a curated growth marketing hub and resource built to help SaaS founders grow their products. We sincerely thank all our experts for their constant value addition to this world.

What you need to know before building a web3 SaaS community:

Build trust

To build a strong community, you need to build trust, you need members to believe:
  1. their contributions will be put to good use
  1. the community's intentions are earnest
  1. the comm. is capable of achieving its goals
  1. people in the community share their values
You have a finite initial window of opportunity to build this trust before individuals start disengaging. Most communities fail here.

3 roles in a community

  • the settlers (community management - core functions)
  • the explorers (community growth - experimentation)
  • the town planners (community strategy - direction)

3 phrases of community building

  • Member acquisition: attract potential community participants
  • Member engagement: get members engaged
  • Member leadership: build community ownership
 

Phases of building a SaaS community

PHASE 1 (member acquisition)

Your goal is to attract primarily intrinsically motivated members as opposed to extrinsically motivated members. This will lead to sustained participation even when the monetary upside is uncertain.

PHASE 2 (member engagement)

In member engagement, start by understanding member goals so that you can guide them to their own goals to achieve MVP (minimum viable participation). Utilize community onboarding calls + 1-on-1 outreach to the most actively engaged members.

PHASE 3 (member leadership

Everyone wants active community governance from day 1. In reality, community members need to become familiar with a community and invest enough of their time and energy to begin growing an ownership mentality. Provide opportunities to influence & participate in key community discussions and decisions. Offer levels of progression. E.g. supporter -> contributor -> core contributor -> leader.
 

Three bonus nuggets

"Communities only become real when they achieve their first win. Enthusiasm is not enough to keep a community alive. When no value is created, people disengage."
You are your community's first contributor - if you do not show up, no one else will.” Community is not always about including everyone but a careful balance between curation and inclusion.”
 
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How to build a course/cohort-based community that you can apply for your SaaS?

Communities are a focal point of cohort-based courses (CBCs).
A community-centric approach leads to:
  • higher engagement
  • higher completion rates
  • better outcomes

Build trust among students quickly

Courses don’t last forever–they have a start and end date. This sense of urgency is exactly what most of us need to get our shit together and get focused. But the time-bound element means you can't build community with a slow burn.
Like a Michael Bay movie where cars blow up in the first three minutes, there needs to be action right away. For a 2 week course, if students are feeling disengaged in the first week... 50% of the course is already over. Yikes
On day one, course leaders should celebrate the behavior they want to see.
Give public kudos to students who:
  • Share their POV & ask questions
  • Engage with fellow students
  • Take initiative to make things better
Trust is an essential element of community.

Culture develops quickly and is hard to change

The first few days–hours--of a course are critical. Even BEFORE your course starts, your students have started to form an impression.
This sounds extreme but is normal. You make snap judgments about the products and services you encounter every day...
It’s reasonable for your students to do the same. If you let negativity go unchecked, it will fester. If you let a disgruntled student whisper to others, the discontent grows.
Community guidelines aren’t enough. You have to enforce & celebrate the behavior actively.
 

Communities reveal themselves over time, so there’s only so much you can do to prepare.

Stay alert as culture takes shape. Have a toolbox of tactics ready. Stay flexible based on student reactions.
Like a subreddit, each course can have a different culture. As a course community manager, you have to give students space to co-create with each other and with you. Create an environment where serendipity and magic can happen.
Then let the community reveal itself. You won’t know what form it will take until students come together. During the course, you might say to yourself: "Wow I’m surprised students liked this so much” or "Hmm I’m surprised students don’t like this.”
Both are equally useful insights that allow you to improve your course and community.
 
 

You can’t “copy and paste” from one course community to the other.

The tactics that work for writing students might not work for crypto students.
Community tactics that work for one writing course might not work for other writing courses.

Learning first, community second.

Community without learning is hanging out with friends. But course communities have to be about camaraderie AND enable learning at the same time. This is an important distinction because it’s a higher bar to hit both of those criteria. Real learning often challenges us–and makes us feel a little insecure. This can bring out the worst in students...
  • Defensiveness
  • Aggressive debating
  • Demanding attitude with peers or the instructor
But when done well, cohort-based communities represent everything great about the Internet.

Learning together can be a transformative experience that challenges you

You’re sharpening your skills alongside peers to interact, analyze, and teach each other. If you’re creating a course, it’s not enough to focus on the content–you need just as much focus on the community.
To run a successful web3 community you need to master:
  • DeFi - liquidity and secondary markets.
  • NFTs - access and community engagement.
  • DAOs - governance and operations.
This combo takes a project from an experiment to a core foundation for growth.

Understanding the Web3 creator economy

At a high level, we’re moving from a world in which creators made income on their own, to one in which they build wealth together with their communities.
The creator economy isn’t new, but it’s constantly evolving. We’re now in what I consider to be the 3rd era of the creator economy, and on the cusp of the 4th.

Creator economy 1.0: UGC

The rise of social media platforms & UGC content made every internet user into a creator.
Live journal was founded in 1999, MySpace in 2003, FB 2004, Twitter 2006.

Creator economy 2.0: The rise of the "influencer"

Some creators built large audiences, which they monetized largely through ads & brand deals.
In 2007, Youtube launched the Partner program, allowing channels to run ads & earn money.

Creator economy 3.0 (today): Direct monetization from users

Creators seek to become independent businesses and are adding direct monetization to get more independence from social media platforms.
Multi-SKU earnings direct from fans across courses, subscriptions, tipping, etc.

Creator economy 4.0: Ownership

The future- Lines between fans & creators blur into community ownership, and the nature of what being a creator is changed and reflects new incentives.
Let’s start with where the creator economy is today (era 3.0).
  • In the past 3 years, YouTube has paid out $30B to 2M+ creators
  • Creators’ cultural impact is eclipsing that of traditional media. Top YT videos have 5-9B views each; by contrast, NBC primetime gets 4M viewers
Serious money is going towards retaining and attracting creators: TikTok is paying creators $2B in the next 3 years. Facebook, YouTube, Snap, and Pinterest also rolled out their own creator funds.
$3.7B has been invested into creator startups so far this year, many offering new monetization tools (Patreon, Cameo, Kajabi, Clubhouse, etc.).
Today’s web2 platforms have done well in enabling creators to create content & build an audience, but often fall short on monetization, which is the 3rd pillar of creator-market fit (CMF).
At a higher level, web2 platforms also don’t enable creators to have independence and ownership of their content. Right now, crypto’s killer feature for creators is monetization through digital scarcity.
Web3 is enabling transformative new ways for creators to monetize & engage their audiences.

Building Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) for your SaaS

DAOs are the next high-level impact communities. They're businesses that are built, owned, and led by a community, hosted on the blockchain.

Why DAOs were inevitable

The trajectory of business, since the industrial revolution, has consistently moved in the direction of customer empowerment. As customers' ability to connect and communicate grew (thanks internet!), companies had to focus more on customer experience.
First we saw the rise of Customer Service as a competitive advantage thanks to companies like Zappos. Then Customer Success became the new craze. Recently we saw the rise of Community-Led Businesses. Now, the rise of Community-Owned businesses: DAOs
And yes, community-led is very different than community-owned.
Because Web 3.0 solves for some of the biggest core issues that community-led companies have yet to figure out:
  1. Compensating contributors
  1. Giving members true influence
  1. Measuring the business value of community

DAOs solve the contributor compensation problem

Web 2.0 cos empower members to contribute as content creators, mods, event organizers, etc.
Those contributors get benefits in the form of reputation, swag, exclusive events, and sometimes payments, but no financial upside.
With DAOs, community leaders get the financial upside of creating more value for the community. It becomes less about compensation and more about the shared opportunity.
Incentives are aligned for the "business" and the "contributor" because they are one and the same.

DAOs solve the "true influence" problem

Community-led companies have always prioritized making members feel heard. But at the end of the day the members don’t have decision-making power.
The company still does what it wants. With DAOs, members have a real voice via voting.

DAOs solve the "value of community" problem

Web 2.0 companies, even the "community-led" ones, still struggle to fully invest in community. Why? Because in web 2.0 it's really difficult to measure the business value of community compared to channels like marketing and sales.
In DAOs, the value of community is inherent in the value of the business. I expect we're going to see a lot of research into DAOs that show the strong correlation between community health and the value of the token.
Without the community, you literally don't have a business. Thinking about DAOs in web 2.0 terms doesn't capture the full potential. DAOs won't just be businesses. They'll be incubators for many many businesses.
A single DAO can spin out hundreds of products and businesses as community members collaborate on and build ideas together.
DAOS are perfect for incubating startups. They have:
  • funding mechanisms (community buys in)
  • testing grounds (community uses the product)
  • advocates (community promotes the product)
Members will get the upside of hundreds of companies that come out of it.

Leveraging Discord for your SaaS Web3 community:

A simple feature gives Discord an edge over other community platforms: "Mutual servers".
Seeing the projects and communities you have in common with someone creates an immediate sense of shared identity and opportunity for conversation.
 
Jeremiah shares about the different types of NFT communities:

The 3 types of NFTs Communities:

1) Participatory Communities who build DAOs,
Examples: Bored Apes, N project, generative art.
2) Gaming Communities who ENHANCE:
Examples: Obtain NFTs to improve ingame, metaverse.
3) Fan Communities who COLLECT:
Examples: Veve's Marvel, Disney, DC, NBA, MLB, Playboy

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