There’s loads of hype around cryptocurrency these days. Back in 2016, the only friends I had that talked about it were developers. And suddenly, it seems like almost overnight, everyone is talking about Bitcoin and crypto. The link between cryptocurrency and social media has had much to do with the rise in popularity, and probably price, of cryptocurrencies.
In this post, we’re going to cover why social media has played such a huge role in the success of crypto – and which particular aspects of social media are responsible for a lot of this newfound popularity.
What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is an encrypted, digital, and decentralized currency that uses blockchain technology. What that means in layman’s terms is:
- It’s impossible to hack because blockchain technology is incredibly secure. Learn more about it in this video.
- It’s decentralized and individual units of currency are controlled by the people that own it.
You can imagine the benefits of this type of money – something that isn’t controlled by banks or inflation. It’s controlled by the peers that own it.
The rise of cryptocurrency
So how did this crypto thing come to be? Bitcoin (the first, and probably most important cryptocurrency) was invented by a person or group that goes by the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. Throughout the 1990s, there had been past attempts at creating a digital cash system, but none took off. In 2008, Nakamoto published a paper outlining how Bitcoin could work as a decentralized digital currency. This included concepts that are still hot topics in crypto today, including the idea of a supply determined by digitally ‘mining’ new coins, and the secure blockchain.
It all started on forums and email lists
To promote Bitcoin at its start, Nakamoto built an email list of 2,000 subscribers and became active on forums like Bitcoin Talk. The first ever bitcoin transaction happened in 2010 via Bitcoin Talk, when one user bought 2 pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins.
Those bitcoins are worth 67 million dollars as I’m writing this article. At the recent peak of Bitcoin’s value, they were worth around 200 million dollars.
How cryptocurrencies are using social channels
One of the biggest hurdles cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies face is educating potential customers. Blockchain and cryptocurrency aren’t the easiest concepts to grasp, and so, video (like the blockchain explanation video we shared with you before) has played a major role in how these companies market themselves on social media.
Take Ripple, a blockchain for global payments, for example. With nearly a million followers on Twitter, they’re constantly sharing educational webinars with their audiences and even launched their own TV show.
Saying that some people are really passionate about cryptocurrency would be a massive understatement. So, lots of these up-and-coming currencies are creating chatrooms, Slack channels, subreddits, forums, etc. to keep their markets informed and connected.
They regularly post about these open communities on their social channels and encourage people to join. Check out this post by Wanchain (a digital currency market) about joining their Discord channel:
You can tell their followers are excited about joining as the post got over 40 shares and nearly 200 likes.
Medium.com is a growing blogging platform built by Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter. It’s got two unique advantages:
- You can tag articles so that they show up for people interested in the topic you’re writing about—this is great for getting your name out there and building a following because the people are already on the platform.
- The $5 subscription fee is paid to the writers on the platform, based on the popularity of their articles (how many, “claps,” each article gets).
Cryptocurrency is a hugely popular tag on Medium. Articles written in this space perform really well with Medium’s communities. This recent one got over 80k claps (Medium’s version of a “like”).
So, crypto and blockchain companies are taking advantage of Medium to build hype around the blockchain industry. For example, ICON (a blockchain/crypto network) recently shared an article they’d published on Medium with their Facebook audience.
Cross promoting Medium articles on social channels does two things for cryptocurrency companies:
- They build engagement in their social channels by sharing relevant, informative content that their users are highly interested in.
- They drive more traffic back to the Medium article, in turn increasing the rate at which Medium shows it in the feeds of people following the tags the article uses, such as “cryptocurrency” or “blockchain.”
How exchanges use social media
Cryptocurrencies themselves aren’t the only forces behind the rise in crypto’s popularity on social channels. Exchanges—trading markets for cryptocurrencies—are actively engaging their audiences with news and updates on blockchain currency as well.
Let’s take a look at how some cryptocurrency exchanges are driving engagement on social media.
Customer support & alerting
Whether exchanges have a dedicated support account or not on social channels, they do use social media to point customers to the right places at the right time. Take this example from Bittrex, a blockchain platform for real-time trading, alerting users via Twitter about a potential scam and pointing them to their support site:
And another example, when Bithumb (a Korean crypto exchange) took to Twitter to alert users of their response to a security issue:
In all of these cases, brands build trust by staying on top of audiences’ security concerns. This is particularly important considering that crypto is a very new area of interest for many users, and finding reliable sources and services can be daunting.
For exchanges that have to frequently deal with complex support topics, it’s always a good idea to have guidelines and standards around what to communicate to your followers. You can use Sprout Social’s saved replies to store full responses or small snippets that can be dropped into a more detailed or customized response. This ensures accuracy when your customer care team is working quickly to reassure customers on a variety of subjects.
Industry news and updates
The crypto community loves to stay in-the-know about current happenings and trends. Particularly since the incredible surge in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency values, users have been eager for the slightest update.
This has played out really well for crypto/blockchain brands on social media. They can use this hype to their advantage, and create a ton of engagement from one update.
Take this example from Bithumb, where they’re updating followers on their own internal news:
As you can see, this post got a lot of engagement simply around internal news for one platform. You can imagine how much further engagement posts on news & updates that affect the larger cryptocurrency space could receive.
Hiring and employee appreciation
Not everything is about the end-user when it comes to any exchange’s presence on social media. Lots of companies, particularly in the tech space, use social media to find great employees.
A benefit of this is that when you’re sharing your jobs via social, you’re not only increasing engagement and increasing awareness of the job you’ve got available, but you’re also exposing your job to a select amount of users who are likely more passionate about your job vs. someone who stumbled across it on Indeed or Monster.
Discounts and offers
Another big trend for engagement that exchanges follow on social media is that of offering a discount. It goes a long way too, check out this offer from Bithumb:
You can read more about using discounts and other creative strategies to the advantage of your own company on our blog. Benefits and discounts can help differentiate brands and draw users to one exchange over another in the crowded crypto space.
Top influencers behind cryptocurrency
In addition to the currencies and exchanges that contribute to the hype around blockchain and crypto— there are also an elite group of influencers that sway opinion and help shape the industry via social media. Keep in mind, that these influencers don’t only talk blockchain/crypto, they dabble in economics, philosophy, and other cool stuff too.
John McAfee, @officalmcafee
John McAfee is a programmer and entrepreneur who founded McAfee Associates (the antivirus software on PC computers). Today, he’s a major influencer in the crypto space and has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter. His eccentric style is very popular worldwide and he tweets both about crypto technology and the markets. McAfee ran for president of the US in 2016, seeking the Libertarian party nomination.
Rhett Creighton, @HeyRhett
Rhett is the founder of Whalecoin, a combo of social media and cryptocurrency that lets members reward followers in crypto. After dropping out of high school, he graduated from MIT (no big deal), and worked for both Bitcoin and ZClassic. Rhett is super active on Twitter and has over 26k followers.
CryptoBobby, YouTube Channel
According to his bio, Crypto Bobby (it’s basically impossible to find his real name on the Internet) is “an average dude with a background in Enterprise tech, who loves talking about cryptocurrency and blockchain. Whether it’s Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin or any of the billion altcoins, I’m here to talk with you about them.”
His Youtube channel has over 140k followers, and his videos range from investing tips to industry news—he’s featured in Forbes, Fortune, and Newsweek.
Chris Larsen, @crhislarsensf
Chris Larsen was recently announced as the richest person in cryptocurrency according to Forbes. He’s a business executive and is chairman and co-founder of Ripple. He’s got over 20k followers on Twitter.
Roger Ver, @rogerkver
Roger Ver has over 500k Twitter followers and was the first person to invest in cryptocurrencies. He is a former convict who now lives in Japan. He’s a big fan of the decentralization of currency and he tweets a lot about Bitcoin manipulation.
How news and rumors on social media influences cryptocurrency
In basic economics, one learns that high demand increases price. In this way, the price of cryptocurrencies is affected each time there’s hype in the media. Prices can rise with positive hype and plummet with negative attention.
Similarly, when currencies release update news, like when the Citcoin network announced the lightning app, prices can rise as news of this feature spreads.
So, because nearly 70% of US adults get their news from social media, you can imagine how integral social media is in determining the demand/price of Bitcoin and other currencies.
In fact, the big Bitcoin bubble earlier this year wouldn’t have been possible without media coverage and social sharing, because most people had no idea what cryptocurrency was before reading about it in an online publication or seeing it in their newsfeeds.
Starting in 2009, very few people were aware that decentralized currency was possible, nevertheless existed. From an email list with an audience of 2,000, awareness of cryptocurrency has turned into one of the most popular topics online today.
Cryptocurrency value has been dramatically shaped by the influence of social media. Popular publications, industry influencers, and the currencies themselves play a major role in the online hype.
Who are your favorite cryptocurrency influencers? Share with us in the comments below.