Note: Advertising guidelines and restrictions around tokens and cryptocurrencies shift rapidly. While the information in this article is accurate at the time of publication, be sure to check your regional and social channel advertising restrictions before investing in promotion.
Money is pouring into cryptocurrency as countless companies raise capital through token sales or initial coin offerings (ICOs). Those ICOs are relatively simple to organize and offer the ability to dip into global markets and invest in new products. Companies from hotels to banks are issuing tokens, entering this brave new world.
Unfortunately, this vast, decentralized market has brought out some bad actors looking to fraudulently make money. We are currently in the middle of a great realignment as governments, institutions and companies look to bring order and stability to the crypto space.
To protect audiences from potential scams, many of the world’s largest social media and search platforms are exerting extreme caution when it comes to accepting cryptocurrency advertising. Facebook issued a ban on cryptocurrency advertisements earlier this year, but then partially reversed its position. Google, Twitter and LinkedIn have also put in restrictions.
The question Cognito is receiving more and more frequently is how legitimate companies can raise interest and awareness of their brand and their token offerings. The first step is to have a great product. The second, focus your messaging on the product or service and why people would want it. After that, here are ways to get the word out.
Tap into crypto networks
Major social media platform advertising restrictions have forced legit cryptocurrency brands to lean into platforms like Telegram, WhatsApp and Slack to get and share information. The first step is to get your feet wet: In the world of crypto, think of Coindesk as The New York Times (in terms of news), Reddit as Facebook (in terms of community) and Medium as Forbes (in terms of executive thought-leadership). Many of these networks have established communities that have already bought into the idea of the token economy.
Establish organic presence
While most major social and search networks won’t currently accept crypto paid media dollars, legit crypto brands should still organically establish themselves across those platforms. Doing this will build a foundational community so that when more regulations are established, and platforms ease restrictions, you will be well poised to leverage the promotional products available. Plus, as your brand participates in in-person events and conferences, this organic presence will be boosted by the conversation. Don’t forget your core website, though—your SEO strategy should be rock-solid pre-launch.
Cue content marketing
The key for organic social growth is to be as engaging as possible, and that means continuously publishing interesting, relevant, and useful information for audiences. Don’t focus on the coin—explain the thinking behind the business. Animated videos have proven to be particularly successful. And don’t solely push out information on your brand; instead, participate in the broader crypto conversation. To do this, build your key messages framework, an editorial calendar, and—most importantly—a response (or engagement) matrix so that comments and conversations can be quickly handled with care.
Be a thought leader
Third-party programmatic advertising can get you in front of the right people on crypto networks and news outlets, but couple that with a strategy to organically build your brand through smart content and participation in online conversations. Already, key thought-leaders in the cryptocurrency world are bubbling up on platforms, proving themselves to be powerful influencers when it comes to token sales. Define who your spokesperson is; have a strong, consistent, and credible message—and dive into the chatter.
Consider strategic partnerships
Power bloggers are major influencers in the crypto world, especially in APAC. Strategic, cross-promotional partnerships with those influencers on Telegram or other platforms will drive interest in your brand. It’s also critical to keep an eye on the emerging crypto press. Coindesk, Coin Telegraph and Bitcoin Magazine have established themselves as leaders, and the brands are crystallizing their advertising or sponsored content products. Reach out to see what they’re offering and whether it would be a good fit for your brand.
Approach paid with caution
When developing a paid media strategy, familiarize yourself with both platform and regional restrictions. Paid ads should not, for now, directly mention a token. If you decide to proceed, think carefully about your investment size. Reaching 10,000 investors who will throw in $100 each will require a wider net than a campaign focused on largely institutional audiences. This is particularly important in the United States, which is starting to put restrictions on advertising coin offerings to non-accredited investors (people who make less than $250,000 or have less than $1 million in non-home investable equity). Exercise extreme caution—or lean on an expert.
There is huge opportunity for cryptocurrencies, but marketing requires a well-planned and fully integrated marketing strategy. Paid media might be only one part of a plan that includes event participation, earned media, online content marketing and thought-leadership, and strategic partnerships with influencers and news outlets.
Build a strong foundation, and it will be easier to adapt, even as the rules change from moment to moment.
Becca Cooper is Cognito’s Director of Digital Strategy