January 13, 2023

Micro-Communities: How Modern Marketers Unlock Uncommon Growth.

Speaker’s Introduction:

George is the Head of Culture & Community at Bitcoin Association and an award-winning entrepreneur, as noted by Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Tech In Asia, & Discover Magazine. Now he manages multiple clients with a combined net worth of $2.5b+ by day and assists community-builders and solopreneurs by night. He’s passionate about bridging gaps between communities and technology. When not building businesses or communities, he enjoys trying out new teas, playing strategy games like Weiqi (Go), and spending time with loved ones.

I got into, I guess, professional community management and community building about a decade ago now, so I actually stumbled upon the community manager role for a co-working space in Melbourne, Australia, about a decade ago, so, you know, it really began with offline communities and then I made my way into online community building after that, so while building a community for co-working spaces and then seeing how that translated into online communities was a good sort of segue and bridge, you know, community building in the online space has, of course, existed since the 90s, I'd say, with forums and then into social gaming, etc., so I've been across a lot of different types of communities, and I got involved with Bitcoin. I was actually really fascinated by the cultural undercurrent of Bitcoin communities. In Melbourne, back in those days, we were actually meeting up with people in shady alleyways, you know, exchanging Bitcoin for cash, etc. Buying beer at some local pubs using Bitcoin I remember using my phone and paying with Bitcoin. I thought it was amazing at the time, and that translated of course through the history of Bitcoin in general, and that sort of timeline traversing Bitcoin then through cryptocurrencies like ICOs, NFTs, and so on over time. And that all happened naturally, and at the same time, I was transitioning from the local co-working space scene to corporate, where I was working with large fintech companies. So, in 2018, I founded Fire in Singapore, and my theory was that the community would become much more important in the blockchain space. 

Q&A Session

Q1. What is a Micro-Community?

So, according to the definition that I've been using, a micro-community is a community of fewer than 100 people. It could be a handful of people who do it as well, but in general, if you look at today's web-free landscape, a lot of people often confuse audiences with communities, thinking, "Oh, I'm building a community of like 10 or 20 or 30 000 people, or I'm trying to build a community of like a million people."

It starts not to make sense after a certain scale, and you'll realize this if you've ever taken a community from like a handful of people all the way up to those tens or hundreds of thousands or even a million people because there is this sense of community that can actually start to dissipate once we get larger, and that fact that 100 people is the Dunbar number—I've never heard it—most Humanity professionals are familiar with it, and that's it for 150. uh, so it kind of worked on par with that, and if we use that, so if you're looking at 100 or 150, that's a good size, and it's actually a size that's much more manageable; it's very tight-knit, and you know, people can still know each other by name without losing that sense of camaraderie, closeness, and intimacy, so I'd say that's the definition.

Q2. How do modern marketers unlock uncommon growth in customer acquisition and customer retention?

I think with modern marketing, you really have to learn by doing. For example, I often get everything I need to know through Twitter. You know, there you know there's obviously communities in Discord, Telegram, and a lot of other channels, but for the most part, my pulse in terms of finding uncommon growth tactics and strategies is coming through Twitter, and it's also knowing how to work specific platforms for your customer acquisition and retention efforts. And you know, if I'm being honest, if you use things like chat GPT right now, you could probably ask it this same question and it could probably get a better answer in terms of averages for myself and many other people, but it's always the execution. So Chat GPT can give you the tactics and strategies, but it's how we execute on those that get us the results, so that's probably my tip for modern markets. 

Q3. Who should be your target audience ? Who are you reaching? Who aren't you reaching? What moves them? What matters to your audience?

All the questions you're asking me are really good questions to ask chat GPT.  I would say that when it comes to the target audience, it always helps for you to target people who are on a platform that you are familiar with because it means it'll be easier for you to stick around if you are doing the engaging, so you can use Chat GPT to do some basic research of the industry or market and get it to refine things for you, but then you obviously need to go and start doing that work and reaching out to those people, etc., and of course who you should target. Targets will be different based on what your business goals are, and generally, from what I've seen across multiple different sectors, if you go after the innovator types or the early adopter types, they're usually good folks to reach out to in the beginning. But again, based on what it is you're offering and the products or services you have, experimentation and taking action are the keys here.

Q4. Customers are multi-dimensional and a multitude of factors influence their wants, needs, and purchase behaviors. What are the factors we need to focus on?

Back in the day, I would use Google Sheets to literally list out, "Okay, here's a person I met, here's their age demographic, blah blah." Again, there are many tools out there that can help you determine that quickly while you're speaking to folks on Twitter or LinkedIn. I'd use LinkedIn tools that would allow me to sort of export those details once I'd found them, and then I'd look at them and refine them as I spoke with people. In community management, there's a saying: "Do things that don't scale," and I think that's still quite relevant because many people, especially in the startup phase, often try to scale things before they're ready to, so they try to solve problems that may come down the line. But, you know, you haven't earned the right to that point yet, so doing things that don't scale, like reaching out to people one by one, can help when I'm actually joining a larger company. I'll do a sort of 90-day audit where I'll reach out to 150 of the top employees or top people, and I'll literally have half-hour chats with every single one of them. But it also allows me to get a good sense of myself emotionally and then compare that to any data that I can get about the same group, either from studies that have been done before, surveys, reports, or even using some of the tools that are available now to be able to just analyze a large group right online, using their publicly available data.

Q5. Using Micro-Communities, brands can create a steady drumbeat of action that engages them everywhere they are. What is your point of view on that?

I believe it is creating a virtuous feedback loop between yourself, your brand, and the people you are currently serving, resulting in a micro-community. And I believe that if you have a product or brand that requires ongoing growth, you can still keep that micro-community as the OGs; they can be founding members, champions, or ambassadors. I've seen a lot of communities actually fail to tap into or leverage those OG members. The early doctors will often get dropped or left out once the company scales and grows to a certain size, but I think you do a big disservice to those people who invested in you in the early days and put a lot of time into it, so I think you can tap into that and get a lot of help and support from that group by continuously engaging with them or simply offering them perks even to stay on with you.

Q6. How do Micro-Communities deliver long-term impact on digital marketing and sales effectiveness?

I've definitely experienced this myself in some of my own communities and even in others that I've worked on or with, and the best way to deal with it is to set the expectations upfront right at the beginning so that at the end of the day, if you can be open, honest, and upfront, then it allows your community to grow with you and also know what to expect. People have complained if you simply subscribe to an exclusive group, claim to know about NFTS, and so on. Community leaders or community founders have to often shoot themselves in the foot by not being upfront about the fact that they're going to charge eventually because, you know, a community gets formed, everybody's creating good vibes, things are going well, and then all of a sudden the founder may be like, "Okay, now we're just going to start charging you." That works only if the expectation is not established from the beginning that you will charge. My general rule is that if a community is forming around a business brand, I know they're going to charge at some point if it's a business and there is a product or service, but most people don't think that, and so I think it's just very important for you to be upfront about that.


I think the main thing or the reason why I wanted to talk about micro-communities is that, well, one of my words for the year is "micro," so I am actually focusing on all things micro, from micro-communities to micropayments, probably now down to nano payments, and even micro-nations, um, right, looking at small island nations that can leverage emerging technologies to help them connect with the global ecosystem and the global market. And when it comes to micro-communities, I think there's a big opportunity for a lot of creators who sometimes don't necessarily need to follow the same path as a highly scalable startup, right? They don't necessarily need to raise a lot of funds or pursue that sort of performance; they're called "lifestyle entrepreneurs," where you know you're managing multiple people, a large team, etc. Many one-person business owners earn far more than startup founders who have a large team, lots of overhead, and shareholders to report to, and so these types of creators, these one-person businesses, can have a very profitable business with, say, a hundred people. You do the math. You have 100 people paying you $99 a month or something, and you can have a very good life for yourself just on that, and I think with all of these tools and technologies coming out, it's just making it that much more feasible, so, um, take advantage of it. You know, we're living in a really interesting period in time, and micro-communities can become very profitable.