Part 1: How to find great blockchain investors, advisors and influencers (and avoid the pitfalls)
Earlier in 2018, a study of 100 successful ICOs identified three factors they shared:
Investment. The median amount raised was more than $9m.
Promotion. Having wide social reach [influence] was key.
Advice. Advisor numbers correlated with money raised.
Great investment, promotion and advice are a prerequisite of success. But how do you get the right investors, influencers and advisers on board?
Making a poor choice when it comes to these experts can be as bad, if not worse, as not having any at all. If they fail in their task or tarnish your reputation, you can hamper — and even imperil — your entire enterprise.
At Block Influence, we help startups identify the experts relevant to their area of operation. We create bespoke outreach lists for founding teams, CMOs and community managers that help them discover and engage the right people for each task they face.
This article, the first in a series dedicated to ICO marketing, distils some of what we’ve learned into a practical guide. It should make it a little easier to find the right prominent individuals for your project.
Understand who is powering debate in your niche
Building a deep marketplace understanding of the niche you’re launching into is vital. This is about looking and listening outside of your own organisation to understand who is saying what and where, and map themes and trends.
Unless you’ve already built up the data and algorithms to do this fast, this kind of marketplace understanding can take several months to develop. If you don’t have this already, it’s worth getting started as soon as you can.
In each niche, you’ll find different kinds of experts operating: public individuals, anonymous individuals, organisations, media outlets, investors, traders, other start-ups, competitors and so on.
These are your untapped external stakeholders — the community that can make or break start-up success.
Research the people who matter
Research typically means keywords searches of stories in media platforms such as Twitter and Medium and also specialist blockchain publications such as CoinDesk, Cointelegraph and so on. The aim is to identify people who are regularly writing, analysing or commenting on your sector of interest.
Filter out the noise
There is a lot of noise and clutter in the blockchain space right now.
So it’s important to filter out and discard the many posts and articles from those who are overly negative, inflammatory or simply ignorant about the niche you’re interested in.
You’ll be able to spot this just by going through what they are saying.
Make sure the experts on your list are genuine experts. They should be well-known and recognised by the community. Not fake accounts or those simply retweeting what others say.
Create an outreach list
You can now create the first draft of your expert list — the basis for your outreach strategy.
On your expert list, you’ll want to record as much key info as you can. Fields such as account name, social media handle, website URL are essential to capture at this stage.
Categorise and differentiate
By adding a taxonomy you can easily segment your list later when you have different outreach tasks required to accomplish different goals.
It’s useful to categorise individuals and organisations as a basic tier. Below that, you may wish to create sub-categories such as investor, media outlet and so on.
Once you have your expert list drafted, with key information and taxonomy, you can start to rank those on it.
After all, you’ll probably have identified more than 50 different potential experts. For each outreach task however, you may wish to only target the best 5–10.
One way to rank each expert is by looking at the number of followers they have on their chosen social-media platform. That will give a sense of the size of network that expert has.
However, given the large number of inactive followers that can plague many platforms such as Twitter, this simple metric should not be relied on. Given that true reach or quality of reach is far better, few now use this metric on its own.
It can also be useful to look at the people who follow each expert and how influential they are.
After all, someone with a small number of highly influential followers is likely to achieve far better results than someone with a large number of non-influential followers.
A complementary way to rank each expert is by also looking at the number of engagements an account attracts (on Twitter, for example, these would be retweets, replies and favourites, and there are similar metrics on other platforms such as Linkedin, Telegram, Youtube, Medium, Steemit, Earn.com etc). This metric goes further than follower numbers to demonstrate their active follower base and the level of engagement shown by their audience.
Once you’ve scored your experts according to their reach and engagement, it’s time to look at their content. What they are writing and posting about matters hugely.
· First, are they likely to display receptivity to your cause? Identifying whether they have a positive or negative predisposition to your area of operations is vital prior to any outreach.
· Second, does their content history show they have the suitability required to fit with your own culture, vision and values. Some kind of reputational risk assessment of each potential expert is required.
· Third, it’s also important to look at frequency of content being posted. Do they regularly talk about your niche? Are they currently active? Do they post too frequently so it is difficult to keep up with them?
You may wish to record your own views on receptivity, suitability and frequency for your top experts to save you time later, along with examples of their recent content to make your engagement activity more relevant and effective.
Finally, if you plan to use your outreach lists for marketing purposes, you’ll also want to identify which experts have previously conducted promotional activities on behalf of third parties.
Those who have done this previously will be used to creating effective content that is valued by their followers.
However, be cautious with those who do too much promo. This means their audience are less engaged with their frequent promotional activity and it then becomes less effective.
Later, you’ll be able to build up a record of their cost requirements, once you’ve begun your outreach (more on this in our next article).
If you’ve followed the steps above, you should now have a comprehensive outreach list, something that start-ups often invest time and money in researching or purchasing.
Given the pace of change in the industry, it’s vital that this list is kept regularly updated. New influencers should be added and ranked, and ones that are no longer valid or active removed.
Without regular updates your outreach list may be inaccurate and quickly diminish in value.
This outreach list will now form the bedrock of your engagement strategy (which we will cover in our next article — see below for more details on the ICO Marketing series).
An alternative option — LiveLists
If you want to discover and engage the right investors, influencers and advisors to ensure your blockchain project is a success, but don’t have the time to follow the above process yourself (and want to reduce investment in agencies or pre-made lists to do this), Block Influence’s LiveLists product may be of interest.
It saves start-ups time and expenditure by creating bespoke outreach lists that you can access and own — in a matter of hours and at a fraction of the cost of hiring an agency or purchasing a list. LiveLists improves outreach quality and effectiveness — by giving founding teams the tools to do outreach themselves.
LiveLists is updated in real-time and contains all the information you’d need to achieve a wide range of outreach activities. Find out more here.
Forthcoming articles in the ICO Marketing series:
Part 2: How to prepare your campaign, strategy and outreach segments.
Part 3: Focus on ICO influencer marketing — how to make a campaign work across paid, owned and earned media
Part 4: How to do great outreach
Part 5: How to build and maintain a community post ICO