Three Keys to Successfull Collaboration
There is not a word with more different meanings to a Community Manager than collaboration. The concept of working with someone to produce or create something can mean just about anything in a decentralized environment, and the act of collaboration itself can take on many different forms. In this post the focus is on three keys to making collaboration a success and how you as Community Managers factor into the equation.
Collaboration is a strategic alignment that mutually benefits all parties who come together to achieve a collective goal. That can mean two communities and the members of each hosting events together; or, it could be your community and a brand or artist creating a unique product or experience; or, maybe it is a collaboration between the project leads and the community members celebrating a milestone. In fact, as your community evolves you will likely be involved in collaborations of all kinds. To help you manage, it is important to create and refine a process for evaluating potential collabs on both ends: a process for how you evaluate which communities to reach out to and how to vet the projects which reach out to you. Having a strong process, a stronger community identity and an appreciation for where collaborations fit in your ecosystem will make you a sought after partner and a community which knows a rising tide raises all ships.
As you evaluate where collaborations fit in your community, you'll need to evaluated the resource costs (time, energy, currency, and community access) measured against the goal of the collaboration. Getting together to host weekly collective poker games? You'll just need to find a partner who vibes the same. Trying to amplify community engagement by incentivizing with a raffle for custom 1-of-1 art or merch? That is going to require considerably more work. Today's article covers only three keys to a successful collab, and there are many different ways collaborations can be approached so find one that suits your community!
1. Identify Your Goals in Project to Project Collaboration
The most frequent collaboration within the NFT project universe is made between two collections. It is most likely that the collaboration is initially raised by the newer project, which approaches the larger, more established project to benefit from their existing community. Using established platforms with hard-won communities on Discord and Twitter, the new project will offer the established team the opportunity to grant White List or Mint Pass to their holders. The benefit to each project is straightforward - the new project gets new, presumably active, members in their Discord helping to increase the visibility of their community; the established project - having properly vetted the new project - gets to offer their holders good alpha as a utility and grows their own reputation as a partner with an active community that rewards collaborators.
Know your niche, but don’t be afraid to look across communities of interest to find similar groups who occupy the same space in other niche areas. You may just find that your nexus is community engagement, like Narentines discovered when they looked for - and found! - other communities to invite to a massive, multi-project poker night.
Project-to-project collaboration doesn’t have to end there. Collaborations can include sharing events, co-hosting Twitter Spaces, or even something as simple as an agreement to amplify each other's profile across social media. The most important part of the collaboration isn’t what it is but what it does. How is this collaboration helping grow, sustain and support your community? How is it growing, sustaining or supporting your partner community? Once you answer those questions, you’re ready to be a good partner in collaboration.
2. Know Your Strengths and Use Them
What do DeGods, Okay Bears and Primates all have in common? They’ve all been Infected. The Infected Mob has staked out an impressive corner of the collaborator ecosystem by creating highly sought after infected derivative collections with a number of projects or subDAOs within larger projects. The core of the collaboration is creating additional art, riffing on the original art within the (sub) community, with Infected Mob utilizing their style to create unique art mashups. The key to the collaboration is the artwork, but Community Managers do have a specific role to play helping to organize and energize their own community, making them an attractive partner, and building a pipeline of potential collaborators through evaluation and relationship management.
This is ambitious, high level collaboration and requires good internal coordination, a careful plan for approaching potential collaborators and then the determination and skill to ensure that collaboration comes to fruition. What further set Infected Mob apart was that they identified their early success in this space, built on it and communicated their expectations to the community about how these collaborations would be use in the future.
In an 8 August Discord post, the project wrote:
We will not dilute the importance of this by running a lot of collabs in this format. These are very limited and exclusive and will have more rewards associated with them which we will announce as time goes on. We will only do something like this again if it was with an OG of OG collections or if there us some significant marketing value for Mob Studios and even then we will advise that we can’t do these until late November or early December.
Community Managers and Collaboration Managers have a large role to play in collaborations, and can often be the team member who identifies a potential collaboration and shepherds the relationship through to an event, launch or merch drop. As a CM, you’ll need to understand the goals of the project leads, what the expectations are which have been set by the leads and the community, how your management structure will define the path for receiving and implementing feedback, and where you can make the most impact guiding the community towards reaching your collective goals.
3. Collaborating Through Your Community
Finding a way to collaborate with your individual holders is foundational to the success of many projects and is based on strong Community Management. Your members can become ambassadors to identify the next projects which will make the best collaboration possible. It is your responsibility to create an environment in which empowers the individuals to help strengthen the collaborative space; your responsibility isn’t just to your own project and members but to your current and future collaborative partners.
By creating and following simple rules which guide outreach out to potential collaborators, CMs can define a successful path for your community members to follow. To start: Do Not Spam! At the top of your rules should be clear guidance that you want community members to only bring your project where they are already engaged with their community. Require that they understand which individuals or channels are appropriate to use to propose a new collaboration, then reach out only through the proper channels. Your community spamming their way towards hopeful collaborations will only harm your standing and dissuade potential collaborators. Do not ever encourage your community members to DM every team member or send blast Tweets. Do always encourage the use of the proper paths, appropriate channel in Discord, or create a ticket. And it should be a red flag if your community has an established path for receiving collaboration requests and an incoming request ignores them/spams you.
Creating a template for communication can help steer the conversation and ensure that you are always putting your best foot forward. Highlighting key details of your project, special aspects of your art or roadmap, and details about the collaboration you’re proposing should all be a part of the template. Be mindful not to overwhelm by sending too much information too quickly, but instead strategically structure a communication plan which can be easily used by your Team and community members doing outreach.
When reaching out for a special collaboration, be respectful of the time and cost and remember that reaching out to a partner community where there may be a mutual benefit is not the same as reaching out to an independent artist who does work for a fee. This is another place template created for community-to-community collaboration outreach, smart CMs create a template for outreach which provides the scope of the work, the expected timeline and the fee you’re offering. Expect negotiation, be respectful, and create clear deliverables on both sides. Always provide the opportunity to increase the value proposition to your community and to partner artists or projects by being open to counter-proposals.
Once you have established your goals, process and scope of collaboration, you’ll have a strong platform to determine the best collaborations to level up your community.
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