Social media has become an integral part of the lives of individuals who reside in the societies of most — if not all — developed nations.
And because social media plays an important role in the daily lives of many people living in the developed world, a presence on some of the more popular social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is becoming increasingly necessary for companies across all kinds of industries.
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However, this is even more necessary for companies that operate primarily in digital and online spaces: particularly, the cryptocurrency industry.
What does a healthy social media strategy look like for a cryptocurrency company? And how can cryptocurrency companies leverage their presence on social media to build their communities?
Ah, yes: Crypto Twitter
Danny Phan, Managing Director of PR firm Wachsman’s Asia Pacific operations, explained to Finance Magnates that in the cryptocurrency industry, in particular, having a presence on social media — in particular, Twitter — is particularly vital.
“‘Crypto Twitter’” has evolved rather quickly into a hotbed of philosophical debates and technical conversations, giving it a disproportionate amount of influence on the cryptocurrency industry compared to other sectors,” he said.
“Many significant industry stakeholders are regularly plugged into Crypto Twitter, making it a powerful medium for companies to disseminate significant developments to their communities, as well as a useful resource for journalists on the hunt for interesting angles or commentary.”
Therefore, companies who have interesting content or news to share, have the opportunity to use Twitter to share that news or content with millions of people quickly.
With great power comes great responsibility: risks and rewards
But where there’s opportunity, there’s also risk: “While it’s important for crypto companies to develop a presence on the platform, it remains dangerous to do so haphazardly or recklessly,” Phan said. “Over the last two years, Crypto Twitter has increasingly become tribal in nature, with zealous advocates for one technology above others.”
As such, bad news in the cryptosphere can quickly get worse once it reaches Twitter: “Biased parties might conduct orchestrated attacks or disinformation campaigns, exploiting competitor errors or weaknesses. Companies and projects must, therefore, remain attuned to the day to day communications on Twitter.”
One example of this took place earlier this year when US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase acquired blockchain analytics firm Neutrino, which had several executive members that were formerly a part of Hacking Team, an organization that was renowned for helping oppressive government regimes commit human rights abuses.
So, I spent some time looking into @coinbase‘s latest acquisition, Neutrino. What I found, just by reading existing reporting, is insanely dark, and could/deserves to become a massive scandal for Coinbase. Thread. /1https://t.co/z8MvAaPPKQ
— David Z. Morris (@davidzmorris) February 26, 2019
Within hours, news of the acquisition spread across crypto Twitter, as did a new hashtag: #DeleteCoinbase.
Not that I’m @coinbase’s biggest customer by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m done.
I was never a fan, but this is too much. Thanks @davidzmorris, @arjunblj, @J9Roem for bringing this to light.
Deleted my account and so should you. Share your images with #DeleteCoinbase. pic.twitter.com/G2llRID5UF
— Udi Wertheimer (@udiWertheimer) February 27, 2019
Indeed, “Crypto Twitter,’ as it’s known colloquially, raises the stakes for reputational mistakes,” said Jane Fields, Managing Director at Wachsman, to Finance Magnates earlier this year.
“Blockchain’s competitive tribalism becomes amplified by Twitter, where a company’s supporters are often eager to seize upon a rival project’s misstep, however slight, as a way to tear down perceived competition.”
And once those hashtags are there — they are there to stay. Therefore, keeping one’s presence on social media as tidy as possible is hella important.
Indeed, what it comes down to is the fact that “people will discover, know and learn about companies through social media, and they will decide whether or not they’re interested in them by judging the content they publish,” said Ramón Ferraz, CEO of collaborative financial platform 2gether, a company that is working on building its own social media following, to Finance Magnates.
But assuming that most companies are able to stay relatively free from disaster, what kind of content should these companies be creating and curating? And should it be different from platform to platform?
Good quality content is king
Jonathan Swerdlow, CMO of cryptocurrency brokerage firm Enigma Securities, told Finance Magnates that first and foremost, any content that a company shares on social media should be top-quality.
“Companies that cater to more sophisticated investors such as Market Makers, OTC traders and exchanges will generally publish well-crafted research, charts, and other pertinent information,” he said.
“They will use a mixture of high-quality visuals as well as texts in order to captivate the users on the platform they are using to communicate.”
Using a highly visual strategy can also be effective on other platforms that cater to visual content, including Instagram and Facebook. Swerdlow also noted that “for brands that are targeting a large retail public, a professional presence with sponsored posts and educational content can be relevant” on Facebook and its pictorial subsidiary.
Breaking a piece of news can quickly spread a company’s brand name
When it comes to content on any platform, Swerdlow also said that there’s a special bonus if companies are able to share pieces of breaking news.
“Companies such as crypto news websites, blogs and trading firms will try to publish exclusive news,” he explained. “Being the first one to report a critical event in the industry or a market update will enable them to enjoy an organic and natural distribution as people and other websites will naturally share the time-sensitive post with their networks.”
This kind of content can be particularly effective on Twitter, where Swerdlow says that companies should “communicate regularly about time sensitive events, critical alerts and market movements.”
Companies can also use Telegram to establish channels of communication for this kind of content. “Telegram is an extremely popular platform in the crypto community,” Swerdlow said. “It offers companies the ability to create channel where they can communicate about important news. Additionally, companies can create community group where people can engage and discuss with each other.”
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Social media can also be used to attract new talent
And of course, each of a company’s social media channels should have a healthy dose of information on updates and features.
“In order to engage with their already existing customer base, it is important for crypto companies to communicate frequently about their company effectively. Most companies will communicate about their most recent updates, new features, token releases, security alerts, company’s events and other achievements.”
This is also important from a human resources perspective, particularly on professional networking platforms: “for brands that are trying to attract a more professional audience and to attract new talents to their firm, an effective LinkedIn communication strategy can play a key role,” Swerdlow said.
It’s all about what works: “to determine whether or not your strategy is successful, you will have to rely on the data.”
As long as a company is producing high-quality content, its brand imaging can be highly individualized.
Ramon Ferraz said that some companies have a “very visual approach, with a very well-curated Instagram and a ton of multimedia content that’s not only informative, but also relies heavily on a social strategy by talking about social issues openly in their official channels.”
He pointed to N26, a mobile banking app that works with several cryptocurrency companies, as one example of this; N26 has 94,300 followers on Instagram, and 59,400 followers on Twitter.
However, Ferraz also explained that N26 “didn’t have that from the very beginning: they developed and perfected their strategy by focusing on the key product indicators (KPIs) they wanted to achieve and adapting their content via trial and error until they figured it out.”
“To know whether or not your social media strategy is working, you would have to focus on achieving some KPIs that are determined by what your goal is,” he said. In social media, important KPIs to consider can include things like Reach, Engagement Rate and Acquisition.
“Basically, to determine whether or not your strategy is successful, you will have to rely on the data.”
”No one really cares what you think about your own product.”
One thing that seems to have a negative effect on these kinds of KPIs is navel gazing: creating too much content that is focused on how great a company thinks that itself is.
Colin Aulds, Co-founder of cryptocurrency wallet Billfodl, told Finance Magnates that when building a following, it’s important that companies aren’t too self-absorbed: “don’t talk about yourself,” he said. “Let others do that.”
After all, the average person browsing through Instagram or Twitter will most likely be turned off by self-promotional content. Therefore, companies should aim to start and participate in discussions, thus piquing the interest of community members without aggressively self-advertising.
“The truth is, no one really cares what you think about your own product,” he said. “They care what others think about it. However, they MIGHT care about what you think about the next hard fork block reward halving. We try to focus on that. The customers come out of curiosity for who you are.”
Ramón Ferraz echoed Aulds’ sentiments: “from our perspective, we think that the best way to use your channels is by creating the best environment possible to allow your community to grow around them,” he told Finance Magnates. As such “we don’t want to constantly sell our product to our followers.”
”Social media helps build bridges between those people, and companies using those platforms can build entire communities through their communication strategy.”
Instead, Ferroz said that his company aims “to create a safe, comfortable environment with room for discussion and interaction amongst users and between the community and the company because we believe that is the best way to grow and stay in touch with the people that support your product.”
Indeed, “social media helps build bridges between those people, and companies using those platforms can build entire communities through their communication strategy,” Ferroz explained.
Therefore, “acting as a meeting point for crypto fans and curating a communication strategy (general or platform-specific) by sharing information that is relevant both for the company’s users and crypto fans, in general, will help a company build its social media presence and create a strong, ever-growing community that will support it.”
At the same time, however, it’s important that any company’s social media channels contain enough content about themselves so that potential users or customers can easily use the channels to see what a company is about.
A Twitter or Instagram feed that’s full of interesting reposts or comments on industry happenings may be interesting, but may not be effective in adequately educating users about a platform or product.
Should crypto companies and networks put a face behind their names?
There’s also the question of whether or not to put a face behind a company’s brand name.
“In this space, the importance of public-facing thought leaders on a project brand varies in relation to the project’s development progress,” Phan told Finance Magnates. “In the very early stages, as a project’s core ideas are first being introduced to the world, it makes sense for highly important figureheads to spearhead the charge.”
Phan pointed to Vitalik Buterin’s role in the Ethereum Foundation and as a figurehead for the network: “ back in 2016 and 2017, Vitalik Buterin was universally considered the primary individual force behind Ethereum,” he said.
However, Phan also said that attaching a single, strong face to a company, network, or initiative may not be a good long-term strategy.
“As a project grows and becomes more popular (and its stakeholders become more decentralized), it becomes imperative to decrease the individual influence any one thought leader has over community support,” he said, “whether that’s by introducing additional spokespeople, empowering community ambassadors, or even giving the soapbox to third parties developers.”
Phan pointed to Vitalik Buterin’s apparent decision to put a bit of distance between himself and Ethereum: Recognizing [his strong association with the network] as a potential issue, he has deliberately reduced the time he spends in the limelight,” he said.
This has “[allowed] other members of the community to fill a ‘leadership’ gap, helping prove that Ethereum is increasingly the sum of many parts and not the work of any one or even a small group of contributors.”
Still, ”having someone become the face of your brand can definitely help the audience feel closer to the company.”
On the other hand, having a strong association between a brand name and a particular person can arguably be leveraged to a brand’s advantage–take, for example, Binance, and its Twitter-famous CEO, Changpeng Zhao.
Zhao has nearly 450 million Twitter followers and is well known as an ambassador for Binance as well as for crypto in the greater scheme of things. Binance one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges–and it would be difficult to argue that Changpeng Zhao’s very public presence on Twitter and in the cryptosphere in general is not a part of that.
After all, “having someone become the face of your brand can definitely help the audience feel closer to the company and inherently trust it more than having a faceless brand,” explained Ramón Ferraz, CEO of 2gether to Finance Magnates.
“Communication goes both ways, and it’s always easier or more productive when you know who you’re talking to or trusting with your information and/or assets,” Ferraz continued. “In crypto, you more often than not are trusting people with your money, so being able to feel a human side of a company helps people feel less like ‘walking bags of cash.’”
However, while having a single personality strongly associated with a brand name can be helpful, it may not be entirely necessary. Johnathan Swerdlow, CMO of cryptocurrency brokerage firm Enigma Securities, told Finance Magnates that while Changpeng Zhao “has been doing a great job at building a large following base,” there are other companies that have managed to build robust social media presences without
For example, “eToro has also built a very large following base of two million followers across their channels without actively using the face of the company CEO but by producing high quality and engaging content,” Swerdlow said.
Perhaps the moral of the story is that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that works for every company or network. What works best for your company is what works best for your company–and the only way to discover this is by trying.