The Secret of Organic Engagement

The Secret of Organic Engagement

A conversation with @kthsalins from Crowwd Labs.

We're always trying to learn about all the interesting things happening in web3. To satiate our curiosity, we host a weekly-ish Twitter Spaces series called Coffee Conversations. What follows is a summary of the eleventh episode.

For the eleventh episode of Coffee Conversations, we hosted Keith Salins from Crowwd Labs. A community builder at heart, Keith was previously an early team member at Layer3 before striking out on his own to start Crowwd Labs – a web3-native creative growth team.


  • Keith stumbled upon crypto Twitter during the 2021 bull market.

  • As the story goes, he fell down the rabbithole and applied for a community manager position at Layer3.

  • At Layer3, Keith noticed that all NFT projects require some assistance in marketing and community building. This is when he decided to strike out on his own and start Crowwd Labs.

  • Today, Crowwd has shifted to serving B2B and consumer-facing projects.

  • Their most impressive work was getting a client's Discord and Twitter to 4,000 and 11,000 members, respectively, from scratch in just 4 short months.


This transcript is edited for brevity and clarity.

Infi: Hey, everyone! A very warm welcome to the 11th episode of Coffee Conversations. This is a weekly-ish Twitter Space where we host builders to learn more about their experience participating in or working with decentralized communities.

Today, we've got with us Keith Salins, the founder of Crowwd Labs and a member of SuperteamDAO who was previously a community manager at Layer3. Keith, why don't you give us a brief introduction to yourself?

Keith: Gm everyone! Thanks a lot for having me here. For a short introduction, I have been doing marketing since forever. Previously, I did marketing for e-commerce brands and was really active on Twitter. One day, I stumbled upon crypto Twitter at the peak of the 2021  bull market. It seemed interesting, so I started finding my way around, setup my MetaMask, the usual stuff. Then, I found out about this project called layer3, and that formally began my foray into web3.

At the time, they had an open role for a community manager, so I tried my luck. I was lucky enough to become a part of the early team there. I learned a lot. Before joining, I did not know anything about web3 or web3 marketing. As time went by, and in the company of amazing people, I slowly got the hang of things.

Infi: I think layer3 has done a really great job of onboarding people to web3. Especially those that would've glossed over it or those that prefer to stick to what they know. I'm sure there are many others who had the same journey as you! Alright, moving on.

So it's almost a year since you've been working on Crowwd. What are the kind of clients you find yourself working with? Are they big, traditional businesses, or those closer to home, like, DeFi protocols, for example, or other web3 projects? And out of all the clients you have served, what's the most impressive result you've brought someone?

Keith: So initially, we started off with more NFT projects, and that was what we also thought would work, right? Because at the time, at least in early 2022, a lot of NFT projects were picking up pace, and they required a lot of marketing. All of the spammy Twitter DMs that you get, all of the tags that you get, etc., are usually for NFT projects. So that's what we thought we'd get most of our business from.

But after starting out, my team and I both did not really resonate with these projects that much. We were not a big fan of their approach to marketing which was pretty standard across most NFT projects at the time. So, we decided to shift to more B2B and even consumer-facing projects that weren't solely based on NFTs.

So to summarize, I'd say our portfolio today consists of DeFi protocols, CeFi projects, traditional businesses like exchanges, and DAO-related platforms or DAO tooling, if I may.

As for which client have we done the best for?

Can't say the name, but there's this one DeFi client that we had some time ago, trying to get into the market and were on a relatively new chain, Starknet, at the time. And they just wanted to grow their community and Twitter organically. And initially, we had some difficulty because, previous to that, we had only worked on EVM chains and maybe like a few Solana projects, but nothing on StarkNet, so that was a challenge.

A bunch of web2 brands and like these really old-school brands, have done cross-promotional activities where one brand kind of talks about another brand, and the other brand talks about their first brand. So we did something similar.

We would basically promote ourselves or maybe do a session in another community. Since they'd be on a similar chain, they would get to know about the product, and we would get more awareness, more members in the community, et cetera.

So yeah, I think after the first month, this was what we figured out would work best for them, and in the following two months, we were able to grow the community to over 4,000 members on Discord.

And I think Twitter grew to over 11,000 members in the following three to four months.

Infi: Wow. Those are some impressive numbers. At rep3, we're all about helping communities operate and grow efficiently, and in our efforts with communities of all sizes as well as growing our very own community at rep3 club, we have come to appreciate the various challenges of setting up a community and getting it going.

So your clients asked for organic engagement and they got that. Which brings me to my next question -- as a marketer, how do you define organic engagement? I'm curious because one of the key selling points of Crowwd is that you build communities organically. So how do you think about that internally?

Keith: So organic engagement for us means engagement that comes without spending money. I think that's the simplest and most agreed-upon definition. Obviously, not spending money does not equal no effort; quite the contrary. It's a slow process, and we look at it as a way to get these high-quality members who will, at some point in the future, become customers. All these projects that we do community or content for have a product attached to them as well.

And their end goal is to get users for that product, which is the hardest to do in web3. So that was our definition before. But the more time we spent in web3 communities, we realized that our approach to this kind of organic growth isn't tenable because you can't expect every member to be one that contributes actively and then converts to a customer. Statistically, that's not feasible. So you must also market to and appeal to the other kinds of members sometimes, and they may just be looking for a quick profit, or they might be new to web3, etc. To these people, a different approach works best, one that does not necessarily abide by the definition of organic engagement.

So internally, and even with our clients, we think of it as a slow growth process that happens in three parts. The first is to have a really strong top-of-funnel channel, which is Twitter obviously. And driving strong content through that such as Spaces like this. Collaborations with other brands help as well. Finding your voice and being original -- these are a few things.

Then comes community partnerships. There are other communities that are in the same niche as you are. Perhaps on the same chain or trying to do the same thing. Find out ways to collaborate with them effectively. So one thing we do in these cross-promotional campaigns and even otherwise is to incentivize member participation non-financially. And this works because a lot of people don't really have money. They are more than happy getting, say, a role on Discord. So giving them this, giving them membership NFTs, or other kinds of badges means a lot to them.

You could also run ambassador programs. A lot of communities do this, but few do it well. The key idea is to identify the most active participants of your community and empower them, meaning you give them more leadership or acknowledge their activity in some visible way. So this could mean opening up paid contributor opportunities only for these folks, which is a way to get the best bang for your buck.

So I'd say these are roughly three steps to organically growing your community. And you need to stick to this for 9 to 12 months. And it will be tough because organic growth is an exponential process. So in the first five months, you will see close to no growth or very slow growth. But in the last kind of four or five months, you'll see exponential growth. You'll probably go from like zero to a thousand in a matter of six months, but then you go from a thousand to 10,000 in a matter of like three, four months. So, yeah, that's that.

Infi: That's an exhaustive answer. Interestingly, some of the things you said are echoed by a lot of the community folks I speak with. Most of them say that growth is exponential. Another thing they say is that many members are actually happy being recognized and rewarded in non-financial ways. In fact, that's one of the main things that we are actually betting on at rep3.

For those that don't know about rep3, the elevator pitch is that we're a protocol that helps communities manage and run their operations better. So that means everything from managing contributors to managing their contributions, setting up a credentialing system that works, and one that people actually like. And then this protocol integrates with a lot of other things like Snapshot, Discord, Guild, etc., so you could actually bring your community on-chain in a meaningful manner.

We're currently working on v2 of the protocol which is a great improvement over previous versions. It will be much more composable and much more flexible. Alright, so that brings me to my final question.

Assume you're starting a community from scratch. So when I say from scratch, it means that you, as a founder, do not have any reputation in this space. You do not have a big personal account or any sort of partnership with other communities. Nothing at all. How would you approach community building in this scenario? I think a lot of the people who listen to these Twitter Spaces or read the transcripts later on, would like to know how to bootstrap community, so to say, and what all must one focus on or avoid in the early days.

So in this scenario, how would you get your first ten or first five community members? How would you get your first 100 Twitter followers?

Keith: Actually, I would like to hear Zeel's thoughts on this before I go, if that's fine.

Infi: Oh yeah, for sure.

Zeel:  Let's say that you're setting up Twitter. So like Keith said, it's important to figure out collaborators or other communities that are in the same position as you and find a way to work together. It is also a great idea to look out for other opportunities to get yourself out there. So, for example, the CMO of Arbitrum re-tweets anything that mentions Arbitrum. How can you leverage this?

Just focusing on creating value for others is how I'd approach it. And this goes a long way.

Keith: Yeah, I'd second that. Create value and find out other communities that are of the same size and in the niche or space as you. So if you're on Polygon, go to all the Polygon-related Telegram groups you can find and just shill yourself. Of course, you need to be mindful of the rules, but if you speak with the mods and perhaps engage with the community productively before introducing your project, it works really well. That way, people also look at your project in a different way. This strategy works for recruiting your earliest members as well.

Infi: Alright, so to summarize, focus on creating value and connecting with other communities that are similar to you in some way (i.e., in size and/or what you're working on). Thanks for the detailed answer, Zeel, and Keith! For those of you that joined late, this week we hosted Keith, the founder of Crowwd Labs, and also had an ad hoc speaker, Zeel Patel, from Layer3.

We discussed Keith's foray into web3, spoke about the most impressive results their team got for one of the clients, and got some tips on bootstrapping communities. Thanks a lot, Keith, for taking out the time to join us today. It was a pleasure hosting you!

Keith: Likewise! Thank you so much for having me, and thank you, folks, for joining in. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Infi: I see quite a few new faces in the crowd, so before we wrap up today's Twitter Space, I'd request you to reach out to me on Discord if you haven't yet set up your rep3 club membership badges.

And that's that! Thank you all for being a great audience. I will see you next time. Till then, stay safe and work hard!