“Community” is getting talked about in tech circles a lot more lately.
That might be because of all the breakthroughs in crypto, NFTs, and blockchain technologies—also known as the emergence of Web3.
Web3 is essentially the next iteration of the internet. Chris Dixon, VC at Andreessen Horowitz, summarized it well:
- “Web 1 (roughly 1990-2005) was about open protocols that were decentralized and community-governed. Most of the value accrued to the edges of the network — users and builders.
- Web 2 (roughly 2005-2020) was about siloed, centralized services run by corporations. Most of the value accrued to a handful of companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook.
- Web 3 is the internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens.”
Many Web3 organizations are recognizing the enormous power of community building, and are taking a “purpose and community first” approach to going to market.
Instead of leading with their finished product, these organizations are focusing on nailing down their raison d’etre, or “reason for being” before taking next steps.
These companies are asking big questions like:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- What’s our purpose?
- How can we build an engaged community around that purpose?
Think of it like a flywheel. This community-first approach to growth is a model adapted by HubSpot to illustrate what happens when you get your entire organization committed to delivering remarkable customer experiences.
According to HubSpot’s classic article on the Flywheel Model:
“The flywheel is simply a wheel that’s incredibly energy-efficient. The amount of energy it stores depends on how fast it spins, the amount of friction it encounters, and its size. Think of it like the wheels on a train or a car. This energy is especially helpful when thinking about how customers can help your business grow.”
Yesterday, The 2022 Community Industry Report was released by CMX and Bevvy. The study found that 87% of organizations agree that community is critical to the company’s mission, but only 10% say they can financially quantify the value of their community and only one-third can connect their community data to their customer data.
SaaS companies in particular are investing in communities. These companies are connecting directly with loyal customers, aligning them behind a common purpose, and giving them a platform to interact with each other.
These communities on YouTube, Slack, Twitter, Discord, and beyond aren’t just creating brand awareness – they’re motivating existing users to show newbies the ropes and turn them into product loyalists, too.
Here at Powderkeg, we took the opposite approach – we started by building a community of entrepreneurs and professionals, then we built a SaaS platform to support that community (you can try the Beta here).
If you want to invest in community at your SaaS company, there are three ways you can do it:
1. Plug into existing communities.
There are already thousands of online communities. So a good first step in any community strategy at your company should start with looking to see what else is already out there.
Pick the right community. Where are your target customers and partners already hanging out? Prioritize quality of engagement over quantity of members. Hop into the platform, virtual events, and conversations to see if you can add value.
Be helpful and prioritize usefulness over selling. Effectively engaging with any community starts with being human and authentic. That means you need to be genuinely interested in people and consistently show up, follow up, and level up in how you add value to the community.
Many communities already have programs, tools, and even software to help you plug in authentically and get measurable ROI for your business. You can check out Powderkeg as an example of this:
2. Build your own community.
More companies are hiring people to build community for their products. Commsor, an operating system that help other startups manage their communities, released a recent survey about community building that said:
“We’ve finally reached a point where companies, large and small, have recognized that [Community Manager] is a critical role to have within their organizations.”
Of their survey respondents, 70% of privately held companies, 79% of pre-seed through Series A, and 84% of IPOd organizations currently have a dedicated Community team.
3. Acquire an existing community.
SaaS companies that recognize the power of community building are now acquiring independent media entities that already have large, engaged audiences. Here are a few examples:
- Zapier acquired Makerpad
- HubSpot acquired The Hustle
- SEMrush acquired Backlinko
- Outreach acquired Sales Hacker
- DigitalOcean acquired Scotch.io
- Pendo acquired Mind the Product
- Stripe acquired Indie Hackers
- Gainsight acquired inSided
Community-building can feel daunting, especially when you’re just starting out. But remember: You don’t need millions of people in your community to be successful.
Start by attracting 1000 true fans for your SaaS business – people who are diehard fans of everything you produce. Have a direct relationship with those fans so they can engage with your company and each other.
How do you start attracting 1000 true fans? You can use Powderkeg to do it – get more details soon.