Highlight on Blockchain Community Management: Stoyan Vlahovski of AbacasXchange

So how did you come to be a community manager in the blockchain sphere?

I got involved in the sphere in a very intriguing way. At the end of 2017, I wanted to work in a Blockchain startup but I had no idea how to do it. The crypto/blockchain space was mostly for people who have technical knowledge and I am more of a “marketing wizard”, which further complicated my task.

What really helped me was talking with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a startup at one blockchain event in Berlin. He was a very knowledgeable person and had obviously achieved the goal I had set myself for himself. So I asked him “How did you manage to do it?”.

The answer was simpler than you would expect. It was “I just wrote articles about cryptocurrency and the founders reached out to me.” At that moment, I was like “Okay, I can write articles, too. Maybe it’s worth giving it a try.” Several weeks later I published my first blockchain article and it was well worth it. I was surprised by the amount of the attention they got. Mark VanRoon (founder of AbacasXchange) was impressed by one of the articles and contacted me. We had several thorough discussions and decided that I can add a lot of value by being the community manager of Abacas.

What is it you do on a daily basis? How does your „typical“ day look like?

Working in a small startup means that you have to do a lot of tasks (some of which may not exactly represent the job description and that’s great). There were and always will be new challenges almost on a daily basis. However, there were a few repetitive tasks. At the beginning of each month, I would prepare a content calendar with ideas for social media posts we want to share. What’s more, I would come up with daily quiz questions for our Telegram chat. Generally speaking, we would ask questions every day in the group chat and some of the respondents will be rewarded with tokens. This leads us to the daily tasks.

I would start my day by analyzing the traffic we have and how we performed compared to the previous days in terms of visitors, email subscribers, etc. Then I would prepare a post for our social media channels. Personally, I have always thought that regular communication with our fans is vital. The community wants to be up-to-date. Once the post is scheduled, it is time for the daily quiz question and winners. What surprised me was the number of emails I received. I had to go through a lot of emails every single day. Obviously, as a community manager, I also have to answer people’s questions on a daily basis. Having covered all those tasks, I would use the remaining time to edit the website, write a newsletter, go to a blockchain event in order to network or something else. A good community manager can always contribute.

Why is what you do called „community management“? Why not something else?

One of the most important aspects of Blockchain startups is that the community and all the tasks I do are directly or indirectly related to how the community perceives the company. This is the simple explanation of why what I do is called community management. Other more specific job titles would understate the amount of responsibility one takes. If your community is properly managed, good times are ahead of your company.

What differentiates blockchain community management from „classical“ community management? And why?

“Classical” communities care mostly about the product and little else. There is also a little chance of talking personally with the founders about your concerns. Blockchain communities are different for a number of reasons.

Firstly, some of the members may have participated in the ICO which makes them a part of the company in a certain way. They often want to discuss the future of the company and are personally interested in the success of the company.

Secondly, blockchain community management is a lot more personal. Typical startups make you fill out a question form and wait for the answer of a random support person. Blockchain companies have telegram chats which include the founders, employees and the biggest investors in the company. You can ask the CEO a question directly and get it answered relatively quickly.

Thirdly, people expect faster answers. If you manage a “classical” community, you can allow yourself to wait one day before you answer a question. If you manage a blockchain one, you have to answer as soon as possible. Otherwise, people start asking “Is there a community manager/ admin here?”. Being always online can be a necessity.

Finally, investors pay close attention to blockchain communities. One of the main criteria for choosing an ICO to invest in is how healthy the community is. Not only does the size of it matter but also the rate of engagement.

Is the crypto scene special in any way? How is it characterized? How do you react to that as a community manager?

Like any new space, it special in its own way. Currently, there are many early adopters, technology geeks, eager investors but also scammers. That’s why I have to be cautious about all marketing offers we get. For example, there are many fake accounts in Telegram impersonating famous YouTubers. As a community manager, I have to build a lot more trust in people and guard against scammers.

What is the most prominent channel or method to build community in crypto in general?

I have carried out extensive research on successful ICOs and, to be honest, I have not noticed one channel that is always the best. The most popular ones are Twitter and Telegram. Reddit can also be beneficial.

Apart from the traditional community building methods, there are several crypto-specific ones, for instance airdrop campaigns and bounty programs. The general concept behind them is that you reward participants with tokens for certain actions they take. If done properly, they can skyrocket the size of the community (but not always the quality). Unfortunately, some people join an Airdrop campaign just to get a few tokens but don’t engage in the different channels.

Does that apply to your community, as well? What was your most successful moment?

It applies in the aspect that we also had an airdrop and a bounty program. As far as their success is concerned, I would say that that really did enlarge the community and spread the news about Abacas. However, I had hoped that more of them would engage daily.

Choosing the most successful moment is a daunting task. I was particularly proud of how the daily quiz worked. I would ask specific questions about Abacas and its future and our followers would answer them and discuss further. It really created a strong bond between me and the community.

On the other hand: Did you encounter failure? What was is it and how did you deal with it?

Life is often a roller coaster. One day you are on the top of success and on the next you might fail and crash to the bottom. Fortunately, we didn’t have any major failures thanks to the diligent work of the team. But as you can guess failures are an inevitable part of a startup. When they occurred, we asked ourselves how to prevent them in the future and focused on what we can do to fix the situation. I see no logic in dwelling about the problems. As my father always says “Problems have to be solved, not avoided.”

You mentioned that there could be more networking within the scene. Do you think blockchain community managers need to professionalize themselves more?

Trying to improve yourself should always be a part of the game. Blockchain community managers need to engage more with one another and share the lessons learned. As the space is still new and quite specific, general wisdom doesn’t always help. It is easier to grow together.

What attracted you to the project you are working for now?

Several elements attracted me to the project. First and foremost, I was delighted by the fact that the founders had been in the financial industry for decades and know what they are talking about. I have been a startup maniac for quite some now and this presented a perfect opportunity to combine two of my passions – startups and blockchain. I was aware that it’s going to be challenging but it was worth trying.

What are your preferred projects in blockchain and why? Are you invested in them, as well (tokens/coins)?

I have invested in some blockchain projects as well as participated in the airdrops of others. As far as my favourite ones I would go for two less popular ones – Abacas and LockTrip. The first is clearly the company I have been involved in for so long. It will always be near and dear to my heart. I have great faith in the idea and the team executing it. Generally, speaking it’s the first universal exchange. You can trade any asset for any asset. For example, AAPL stock for Bitcoin in one transaction.

LockTrip is the first Hotels & Vacation Rentals Marketplace with 0% Commissions. Think of Booking.com but 20% cheaper. The founders are Bulgarian (I am also Bulgarian) so this makes even more special for me.

Blockchain evangelists seem to be everywhere in the media. Is there a person in crypto who inspires you? Who?

Yes, there are many evangelists but I believe that we need even more if we want blockchain to reach mass adoption. Personally, I am inspired by Vitalik Buterin. Being just 24 (3 years older than me), he has managed to create and build one of biggest Blockchain companies out there. I am also impressed by his analytical thinking. We probably have a lot more to see from him in the future.

Talking about evangelism: Where do you see crypto heading to? Will Bitcoin continue to dominate? Will we have a future with manifold currencies? Or will the impetus be lost?

From my point of view, crypto is currently in a building stage. After the media excitement of 2017, it’s time to focus on the technology and to create the blockchains of tomorrow. Several steps are necessary before blockchain reaches mass adoption. I even plan to summarize them in an article.

On the one hand, Bitcoin will definitely continue to dominate in the short term. It simply has the advantage of the first mover. If you ask a person “When did you first hear about Blockchain?”, the answer will almost always be that they heard someone talking about Bitcoin and then learned about the technology. Bloomberg TV and other media reinforce the popularity of Bitcoin by regularly talking about it. On the other hand, the best coin will win in the long-term. If this will be Bitcoin, ETH or something else, I don’t know. There will be a multitude of cryptocurrencies in the future, each with a different purpose.

Your personal outlook on the next year – will we have large media coverage? Bearish or bullish market?

My opinion is that the market will remain in similar price ranges to the current ones. More than one year will be necessary to have a bull market based on adoption and real progress. Many experts consider public ICOs to be dead. Those who managed to catch the wave and do successful public ICOs are currently developing their projects and will need time to bring them to success. Only time will show if I am right or not.

Thank you so much for taking the time, Stoyan! We will continue to watch your career.

Stoyan currently spreads the word as an Abacas Ambassador. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter.