Strengthening your community through ambassadors
Written by Kimron Flicker (ZenGo) and Qin En Looi (Saison Capital)
What is the difference between a community and a group of people? With almost every web3 project proclaiming the importance of community, what exactly is a community? For some, the answer lies in common interests - a group of individuals who gather together, share a similar objective, and engage in like-minded activities.
We think there is more. After all, when we gather together with random strangers at the coffee shop, waiting for our cup of coffee, we would not associate ourselves as “being part of a community”. The answer lies in permanence - communities tend to foster lasting connections among their members and promote sustained engagement in shared activities. At the coffee shop, when we collect our cup of coffee, our interaction with others (in the queue) ceases. Yet communities provide a place where people can gather to consistently engage and potentially collaborate with each other. As a result, a cohesive bond is created between these individuals and the larger community. Similar to the way muscles are strengthened through repetitive movements, communities are built and strengthened when people engage in shared activities more frequently.
Among these individuals, a special few will emerge. These are the “power users”, the “core contributors”, the “culture champions”. These community members go out of their way to contribute extraordinary value to others, often without anyone’s behest and without clear benefit. At ZenGo, the crypto wallet with no seed phrase vulnerability, these individuals are known as Zenbassadors. While ZenGo’s ambassador program is less than a year old, Kimron, ZenGo’s community lead (who is more affectionately known as Madame Zenbassador among Zenbassadors), shares rich learnings on how to structure an effective ambassador program to strengthen a community.
An Ambassador’s Journey - From Learning to Influencing
Imagine you are a user who just downloaded ZenGo. You are relatively new to “this crypto thing”, but you have heard from your family and friends about the exciting world of Bitcoin, Ethereum and maybe even NFTs. You have a vision - a wallet stocked with different cryptocurrencies ready to conquer the (trading) world. You now need to figure out how to use ZenGo, and understand what exactly is MPC. You see there is a Discord community around ZenGo, so you join.
Learning - At this phase, you start asking questions, reading FAQs and scroll through previous threads. Over time, you begin to recognize familiar faces among those who respond to your questions, which contributes to a sense of inclusivity and warmth in the environment.
Applying - You then apply the lessons you learnt and purchase your first cryptocurrency. Congratulations! You are no longer a no-coiner. You then ask more in-depth questions and start applying lessons you learnt from others. At this point, newcomers to the community start asking questions that you know the answer to, so you respond. Giving back to the community feels rewarding, especially since it has been a valuable source of assistance to you. As a result, you begin to form friendships within the community.
Mastering - As you spend more time in the community, you are able to answer more questions and contribute your perspectives. Your opinions start to be recognized, this recognition is satisfying. The community starts to become a place you frequent after your morning coffee, because you are earning respect
Influencing - This validation serves as increased motivation for you to give back. You start to create content to guide community members, and people love it. When others join the Discord, you are referenced as “OG” and a source of authority.
While the starting point for Zenbassadors may be different (especially among seasoned crypto participants), the four phases broadly outline the progression of how an individual becomes a Zenbassador. This then carries important lessons on how to run an ambassador program that strengthens community bonds.
Integrating Ambassadors to be Community Leaders
Step 1: Find your influencers
With an understanding of the journey from learning to influencing, projects would be well-served to identify individuals at the Mastering or Influencing phase. This is where ZenGo reaches out across multiple channels - Twitter, email and in-app notifications, with the goal of finding just a handful of these individuals. After Zenbassador applicants fill out an application form on ZenGo’s website, the team checks for their Twitter and Discord activity to learn where they are in the journey.
The intent is to build the relationship in a bespoke way and develop close ties. For every incoming Zenbassador, Kimron would speak with them 1-on-1 to find out their interests, motivations for being an ambassador and even obtain valuable user feedback. It is in these conversations where they learn the unique stories that led users to pick ZenGo amidst a crowded crypto wallet market - many had lost their seed phrases, and wanted a secure self-custody solution that ZenGo offered. One member even shared how her seed phrase was written on a piece of paper, but after a freak lightning accident that set her house ablaze resulting in a loss of crypto assets, she came to ZenGo.
Step 2: Integrate them into the community
After selection, ZenGo integrates shortlisted individuals into the Zenbassadors community. In addition to a private channel within ZenGo’s Discord channel, Kimron and her team organizes monthly community calls, inviting industry leaders and fellow community members to share knowledge and insights. This enables new Zenbassadors to engage with like-minded folks and learn more about the product.
Step 3: Offer the VIP treatment
Once ambassadorship has been established, it is likely that the Zenbassador is keen to show off their newfound relationship with ZenGo and wants to represent themselves as ZenGo’s ambassadors. This is where Kimron sends swag to ambassadors to equip them with branded merchandise that they can proudly display.
Experiments ZenGo has also run to offer the VIP treatment include “Ambassador of the Month”, where she surprised a Zenbassador with a pair of AirPods after she had very actively advocated for ZenGo, to the extent of creating a fanpage in French. Other ambassadors have also gone to great lengths - one translated articles to share with the Japanese-speaking community, whereas another spoke on a Twitter Space and explained how ZenGo brought MPC to retail users. What is most noteworthy is how all of these were unsolicited and not quid pro quo - it was organically inspired by users, as a result of being part of the ZenGo ambassador community.
Nurture Missionaries, Not Mercenaries
The guiding principle Kimron and her team maintains throughout developing the ambassador program is - Nurture Missionaries, Not Mercenaries. While there are many ambassador programs that offer attractive incentives, Kimron’s goal is to build a mission-focused ambassador program. As a result, ZenGo does not directly incentivize for engagement, nor offer the promise of tokens or financial rewards in exchange for advocacy such as retweets. In the same grain, Kimron also does not set any specific goals or “to-do”s for Zenbassadors.
Instead, they focus on inviting users who genuinely understand the benefits of ZenGo - the primary of which is the importance of MPC (multi-party computation) wallets. Zenbassadors share the common belief that everyone deserves to be in control of their money, free from human or technical errors, and in turn, advocate ZenGo because it fulfills that vision. This conviction then inspires ambassadors to share about ZenGo freely, in whatever shape, form or channel they deem fit.
Kimron shares - “We have a very close-knit community, where ambassadors are familiar with each other, and they develop relationships with each other. The desire to genuinely connect over a shared mission results in members sharing articles they read with each other, or even s**tpost memes, because they feel connected to one another”.
In conclusion, while the Zenbassador program is at its infancy with many more experiments and ideas Kimron and her team have in store, it has already brought together a diverse group of users who are passionately advocating for the wallet. These ambassadors serve as bridges, and are prolific champions who become guiding lights for the rest of the community.