How to Build an Audience on Bitcointalk, the Online Forum and Nexus of the Crypto World
A Bitcointalk presence is mandatory for new blockchain companies -- but the forum's sheer size can be a problem.
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History has been made on Bitcointalk. The forum was founded in 2009 by bitcoin developer Satoshi Nakamoto (probably a pseudonym). In 2010 the forum facilitated the world's first consumer blockchain transaction (two pizzas bought for 10,000 Bitcoin -- worth about $66 million today). And in 2011, Bitcointalk saw the world's first crypto theft, when a user called "allinvain" announced that 25,000 of his (her?) Bitcoin had disappeared.
Related: Why Small Businesses Should Consider Bitcoin
Though the forum's simple interface hasn't changed much since its inception, it continues to be a significant nexus of activity in crypto-world. Bitcointalk boasts more than two million registered users, who make an average of 8,306 posts per day.
Bitcointalk originated as a forum for discussing Bitcoin, but since its creation, it's become a hub for the wide variety of altcoins launching ICOs. Although robust discussions on the forum cover every corner of the blockchain world, "Announcements (Altcoins)" is the most popular board, with over six million posts.
A Bitcointalk presence is mandatory for new blockchain companies -- but the forum's sheer size also presents a problem. New posts appear every few minutes in Announcements (Altcoins), continually pushing less active threads to the second or third page, or even beyond that.
Fortunately, those who would spam the system with off-topic posts do little to earn an audience; in addition to receiving more negative response than good will from forum users, these rulebreakers are quickly banned by the site's paid moderators.
So, all of this begs the question, how can crypto startups stand out and gain an audience in this massive and sometimes chaotic ecosystem? The answer is that that goal isn't easy; but with hard work and careful strategy, building a lasting, meaningful audience on Bitcointalk is possible. Here are some tips for growing your audience:
Have a community presence.
Bitcointalk members aren't all equal. If you spend any time browsing its boards, you'll notice that accounts have different ranks. Users can work their way up from a "Brand New" account with just one coin under their name to "Legendary" account status with five coins.
Related: New Research Shows Bitcoin's Meteoric Rise Was a Scam
Forum activity determines rankings -- you need to make at least 480 posts to reach "Hero Member" status. You also need to show time on the site: It's possible to accumulate only just so many activity points in each two-week period (so older accounts will have more points than posters starting out who are more prolific).
Another criterion is "merit" -- a score other users send posters for contributing to the forum.
Different accounts come with different privileges. Newbies, for example, can have only 50 characters in their signature, while Jr. (Junior) members are allowed 150. CoinTelegraph advises waiting until your account is at "Jr. member" or higher status --which takes a minimum of 30 days -- before you even announce a new venture. Without Jr. Member status or a paid account, you may find it impossible to post eye-catching graphics.
Rankings don't just control your posting abilities; they also indicate to the rest of the community when a user is truly immersed in the cryptocurrency world. Many high-ranking individuals are distinguished not just because they boast five coins under their name, but because they are familiar and trusted voices on the forum.
Certainly it's possible to buy a relatively high-status account to launch your forum campaign, but you risk damaging your reputation for doing so, not to mention the financial loss you'll suffer if your account is stolen or blocked. The best strategy to increase community participation is to do just that -- retain people on your team who are active Bitcointalk members and care about the community.
Each board's topics are sorted by the last time someone posted in them. Active threads stay visible at the top of the front page. Excessively spamming or bumping your thread to keep it on page one will likely get you temporarily banned, but legitimate dialogue among users will keep your thread active and visible.
Being responsive to questions and interest is a good marketing strategy in any forum, but on Bitcointalk it has the bonus of literally getting more views on your posts.
Use multiple venues.
Bitcointalk should be a significant part of your presence-building, but but it shouldn't be your only strategy. According to SimilarWeb, 5.26 percent of Bitcointalk visitors come from social media sites, and 15.1 percent are referred from other crypto-centric sites such as coinmarketcap.com.
When your Bitcointalk threads successfully facilitate in-depth discussion and information about your venture, that demonstrates that your company has substance and real people behind it. That's worth showing off and will grow your audience both inside and outside the forum.
One of Bitcointalk's many claims to fame is the fact that it is home base to professional and amateur crypto "bounty hunters." Companies launching tokens post bounty offers on "Bounties (Altcoins)," where they offer small payments in return for tasks such as translating web pages, checking for security flaws and marketing the token (e.g., posting a link to it in their post signatures).
Bounties are far from beloved in the altcoin world. Drew Falkman from Cryptolinks calls them a "plague on crypto." Bounty hunters are motivated only by the value of the bounty, so their work can be low quality. In fact, an astroturfing marketing bounty campaign can generate the appearance of grassroots interest without actually creating a real audience. And a particularly lousy bounty marketing program can even earn your brand a scammy reputation.
If you do utilize marketing bounties -- and plenty of crypto companies do to make sure they have a fighting chance at getting seen -- make sure they are just one component of a diverse marketing campaign.
Related: Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies: the Next Shiny Object or the Next Gold Mine?
Growing an audience on Bitcointalk can be challenging. But there are few marketing activities that produce impactful results. Building an audience starts with community engagement and continues through to thoughtful marketing strategies and contributions.