To ICO marketers: Thanks, but no thanks. – Hacker Noon

Amid the morning office routines of ‘good mornings’ and hot coffee is a single, persistent nuisance: the overnight inundation of ICO marketers and their copy-and-paste emails.

They all begin with the same message:

“Your project is amazing, but your community’s not big enough. We can help!”

After about two months of working on a blockchain project, I’ve begun to understand the unfortunate reality of the industry. The world of ICOs is diseased by the modern plague of fake numbers. And the messages we receive are quite shameless in this fact.

Some examples of the messages we receive

Some messages promise 1,000,000 REAL investors, whereas some ICO marketers try to sell us on the fact that they have 15 years of experience in this industry (if you’re going to try to scam me, at least try a little harder). One of our recent favorites was a special offer to receive an additional 1,000 Telegram followers if we purchased up to 50,000. And a pizza! What a deal!!

Inside a click farm where “bots” build your community (GIF via English Russia)

And perhaps the most bold move we’ve seen to date was an ICO marketer posing as an ICO investor on LinkedIn. He messaged one of our managers about organizing a call and as soon as the call was answered, the marketer began telling us why his ICO marketing was better than the competition. We quickly hung up.

On a slow night, we get about five of these messages. On a busier night, about 10. And in researching the industry more and more, we realized this was the norm. Somehow quantity had bested quality, to the detriment of the eroding trust in our industry.

Fake followers is not uncommon to ICOs (taken from ICOHolder)

The mentality behind the tactic is understandable — the more followers around your project means people see the potential behind it, right? But these fake followers are not people interested in your project — they’re bots meant to boost your facade of popularity. But as fake followers have become better understood and recognized, we can’t help but wonder if there really is a place left for this kind of marketing. There’s puffery, and then there’s lying. When a Telegram group has 35,000 members, but only 10 messages at most a day (mostly from admin or marketers), it’s pretty obvious what the tactics are. And what’s the point of a community if there is no engagement?

But that’s the point. When investors look at a project, they need a quick explanation of it. They don’t care to delve deep into the social media platforms to see what KIND of community it has built, just that there is a “community.” If you don’t have a large number in your community, then you’re not taken seriously. Investors will write off your project as not being prepared, and ICO ratings weigh these numbers heavily in grading your project.

At the end of the day, the questions remains of whether a meaningful community matters more than a community of numbers. Unfortunately for this industry, the answer seems to be decided. And so, next time you look at social media profiles for projects, don’t be fooled.

We’re trying our best to build an honest community where our followers are engaged, interested, and more importantly, real humans. But we can’t help but wonder if this is truly sustainable. And that’s exactly the problem.

DISCLAIMER: All thoughts and opinions written here are my own and do not reflect those of BEXAM or Hacker Noon.

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