After working in web3 full-time for a while, you start to meet people who really get it. These people deeply align with the ethos of decentralization and collective spaces for authentic community connection. That kind of alignment leaves a mark on the space. It leaves a mark on all the people they come in contact with.
People like Elizabeth McFaul aren’t new to the community game. They’ve earned this expertise through a lifetime of digging into the work. In our conversation, she offered valuable insights on communication strategies, navigating scale and change, and how to optimize team dynamics. Her breadth of experience underscores the need for adaptability, empowerment, and human connection on and offline.
Elizabeth, known online as lagunacarta, has proven through a career in product management and marketing that community is essential to building sustainable products that have the potential to scale through multiple ecosystems. Oh, and if you’re into crafts, she’s your girl.
After starting her web3 adventure at The Nifty in customer support and artist education, she took to freelance and found full-time work at Tonic, a community for artists bridging the physical and digital worlds.
Since the crypto space moves so quickly with new community styles and MVP (minimum viable products), there is an increased need for communication among the absurdity. Though the space matures each day, members of these marketing teams continue to learn new and exciting ways to communicate with their members.
Building teams and products at the edges of the Internet then requires exceptional PR and a focus on messaging to a variety of skill levels.
Elizabeth has some ideas about how marketing teams might better serve their communities by meeting them where they are and supporting them with trust.
Elizabeth emphasizes the increasing need for comprehensive public relations and communications in an era dominated by misinformation, hype, memes, and viral trends. Rather than relying solely on reply guys and short-form content, impactful communication involves crafting key messages and soundbites to shape broader narratives.
We talked about how Crisis Communication, or Rapid Response Communication, is one skill every marketer needs as part of their stack. She reminds us, “If you find yourself running up against a crisis, what’s the sound bite to lead with? What’s the tone?”
When a marketplace sends an alarming email or a protocol or Discord server is compromised, someone on the marketing team must be prepared. Simple yet complete messaging works best in this space, where users have varying degrees of knowledge. In these situations, anticipating questions members or users of an application might have is a key defense against oncoming comments.
Many startups might be constrained for staffing resources, making it even more crucial that those first hires be generalists in order to tackle these cases as the team grows. A full-stack marketer, according to Elizabeth, has these key skills:
Effective PR and messaging provide the framework to get ahead of issues, make announcements, and control the narrative around a brand or community. This becomes especially crucial in web3's rapid-fire news cycle. In this vital role, marketers are tasked with keeping things professional and not adding to the pile of misinformation.
In tandem with high-level messaging, Elizabeth highlights the need to communicate product features and developments clearly. This means keeping users informed about new releases, updates, integrations, and anything that impacts their experience. It might sound counter-intuitive to communicate so frequently or spend many hours on communication, but this leads to fewer questions and a clearer level of trust even as things are in flux.
Neglecting transparent product communication leads to disjointed experiences, confusion, and lost trust. She said, “Community members need a reliable source of truth when it comes to product changes”. Especially as web3 projects iterate quickly, maintaining alignment through communication is key.
In tandem with high-level messaging, Elizabeth emphasizes the need to communicate product features and developments to users clearly. Keeping people informed about releases, updates, integrations, and anything impacting experience builds trust, even amidst frequent change.
Neglecting transparent product communication can erode trust quickly, as Laguna shares from experience: "I think about like when we talk about house deeds. The house and its ownership movement is public, but the actual owner and their personal data is private."
Early on in our conversation, she pointed out that “while the technology is trustless, human connection is very much reliant on trust,” especially when feelings and financial transactions are on the line. In many cases, releasing a new product or feature can build additional trust when a team is able to do an in-person event to get live reactions. That’s where she and many others drive connection to teams and why in-person events are so powerful for nascent technologies.
The combination of thoughtful PR, soundbites, and product updates creates a cohesive communications strategy. Getting these elements right for community builders managing complex web3 brands is essential to thriving in a chaotic market.
Occasionally, in the crypto and NFT spaces, a community will hit its stride. These moments of sudden or planned scale bring with them new challenges for founders and marketing teams.
In my chat with Elizabeth, we came across this problem of all the ways teams must be so much more adaptable than ever. Strategies for the successful growth of teams and community membership have shifted to capture the goals of much more aligned people.
As communities grow exponentially in web3 through market cycles or not, Elizabeth cautions against scaling too quickly without the proper structural foundations in place. She notes, "Discord works well if you were there when it started. But if you're joining in late, it's just so overwhelming for a lot of people." This demonstrates the common pitfalls of growth outpacing strategy.
Community builders learn early on that if the only thing you’re doing with your community is asking how someone’s day is, saying “GM,” or other surface-level conversations, often little connection is actually being made. The thing about scale is that once a community gets overgrown, it’s time to refine strategies to align with purpose and values and communicate thoughtful experiences.
Given the rapid pace of change in web3, Elizabeth advises against stringent top-down content plans. Instead, she encourages flexibility: "I'd say, in Web3, don't think you're gonna have a month of content strategy to plan at once. Because frankly, tomorrow things are gonna go wrong, and you have to pivot."
The days of building content calendars more than two weeks out and waiting for endless approvals are long gone in this area of the Internet, for the most part. Of course, you’ll be planning each quarter with big ideas, goals, etc., but staying rigid to those plans isn’t really happening.
The realities of a volatile and blazingly fast environment mean a strategy for next week could change at any minute. Flexibility is key. This type of work requires absolute agility to react at a moment’s notice.
Elizabeth notes that effective web3 teams often involve both generalists and specialists in complementary roles. Strategic oversight is important, but she advocates empowering frontline community managers to operate with autonomy.
As she states:
"If your team can't trust the person on the mic and they need to be pre-approved, always, then like you haven't got the right structure and format because your team does need to be able to respond 80% of the time on their own."
Micromanaging community leaders severely limits responsiveness. Trusted team members should be able to handle issues arising day-to-day independently.
Elizabeth suggests clearly delineating which decisions warrant input versus full authorization at the individual level. While major announcements may require collaboration, community managers should have leeway on activities within their realm.
For example, an effective community team structure might involve:
This structure empowers the coordinator to manage most real-time interactions while leveraging the manager's oversight for bigger decisions.
Navigating the web3 space requires a blend of technical expertise, effective communication, and a deep understanding of community. Elizabeth McFaul, known online as Laguna, provides insights from her extensive experience in building and nurturing onchain communities.
The key takeaways from my conversation with Elizabeth are clear:
Elizabeth’s journey from The Nifty to Tonic and her current work highlights a trajectory marked by continuous learning, adaptability, and a genuine appreciation for the community-centric ethos intrinsic to web3.
As we continue to explore the possibilities of web3, conversations like the one with Elizabeth are invaluable.