An interview with Xie Yingyao, Marketing Manager at Bluzelle Networks
Blockchain marketers face a very unique challenge. Not only do they have to compete with thousands of other platforms to attract a limited set of developers, but they also have to raise awareness about nascent (but powerful!) technology that the mainstream still associates with hackers and criminal activity. To top it off, they have to grow this product globally from the get-go, to keep the network decentralized. All that, without any playbook of course.
Xie Yingyao is the social media and communications manager at Bluzelle, which operates as a marketplace where individuals seeking data storage can rent space from network providers offering spare computer resources on the network.
Xie made the list of the best marketers in Blockchain for 2020 – a list of 35 individuals whose organizations were measured by the lift in FCAS Rating, which indicates user and developer activity as well as overall market risk, and growth in Twitter mentions as measured by The Tie.
Rochelle: What were you doing before going into marketing for Bluzelle?
Xie: I was the first and currently the longest-serving employee in Bluzelle’s Singapore Headquarters. I started off as a project manager in Bluzelle before stepping up as a marketing lead. I was working on two enterprise projects in partnership with banks like OCBC, HSBC, MUFG and other insurance companies to develop blockchain use cases and POCs. That gave me the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in blockchain technology.
Rochelle: Do you remember the first time you learned how to market? What was it that clicked for you?
Xie: The first thing that I did for marketing in Bluzelle was to manage our Twitter account. At first I thought it was just all about tweeting then the potential audience will come magically :p Obviously, there was almost no growth in the first month so I started to google some Twitter marketing guides and tried out the tactics one by one. Even though it took me some time to grow to the first 1000 followers, I found those small tactics useful as I saw the growth in tweet impressions and profile visits just by tagging the right hashtags. What I remembered most was the day when we received the first reply from an influencer. This was the event that persuaded me to stay in marketing. It is a challenging field yet it is fun and requires a lot of creativity.
Rochelle: How is marketing in crypto different from what you were doing previously?
Xie: Crypto is a very new and niche space. Marketing in this space is very different from that in traditional brands or normal tech startups. Not only do you need to focus on the sector that your product is catering to (such as finance, supply chain or energy etc), you also need to gain enough exposure in the crypto/blockchain community which is highly competitive (according to Coinmarketcap, there are 3500+ projects as of today). Furthermore, the crypto community’s desire to connect with the project personally is much higher than that in the traditional space. That requires the project to provide great transparency as well as act quickly to their feedback.
“the crypto community’s desire to connect with the project personally is much higher than that in the traditional space. That requires the project to provide great transparency as well as act quickly to their feedback.”
Rochelle: Has your marketing strategy changed since you started?
Xie: Yes. Our marketing strategy evolved with the progression of tech development. At first we focused on building an engaged and sustainable community, from which we identified the potential users that will drive the long term value of our decentralized database. As we have a more completed product now and Mainnet is approaching, we focus more on adoption and expanding the Bluzelle ecosystem. That includes onboarding blockchain partners and new use cases.
Rochelle: What do you focus on to differentiate Bluzelle from other blockchain networks?
Xie: We focus on delivering a real product that will solve the pain points of all blockchain or non-blockchain developers. As a decentralized database, Bluzelle has a very unique position and can be used by any blockchains. Now as we are close to production-ready, we will also focus on optimizing user and onboarding experience to drive mainstream adoption.
Rochelle: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of leading marketing efforts for a public decentralized network?
Xie: The most challenging part is that the blockchain space changes rapidly. Staking was popular not long ago, and now it’s all about defi & liquidity mining. We never know what is coming up tomorrow. That requires us to monitor the crypto trends frequently and act fast. In many cases, we have to come up with a new strategy or campaign in a day and execute it right away so that we are not lagged behind. Moreover, there is no past success and use case that we can easily understand and copy directly. We learn from doing it.
“Moreover, there is no past success and use case that we can easily understand and copy directly. We learn from doing it.”
Rochelle: What was a failure you thought was really interesting about how this industry works?
Xie: I have to say the blockchain industry is more agile than agile. Our original roadmap was to release new products in 6-month cycles. This seems normal in the traditional software company, but it’s considered long in the blockchain space. People in this space prefer more frequent updates and have a stake in the development. The big gap in between two releases has made it difficult to maintain our marketing and community momentum. From then on, we learned to break down our big plans into tiny achievable goals and we were perceived as a project that keeps delivering new features.
Rochelle: Tell me about your first trade show in crypto – what was that like?
Xie: Our first one was at the BlockShow 2017. Crypto trade shows are more fun and casual than other industries. Most people just walk around in a T-shirt. The exhibition space also became a battleground of merchandise as crypto people are extremely creative in making merchandise from stickers, coins and so on. Many people were attracted to our booth by our company T-shirts with 4 names representing the great scientists we admire. It was a great experience as we had the chance to connect with crypto people face to face.
Rochelle: The Tie worked with us to analyze Bluzelle’s growth on social media. Looking at Twitter, they found that your number of mentions grew by over 1716% since the beginning of 2020, from 6 mentions a day to 114. How important is social media in your marketing strategy and how do you think its role differs from other industries?
Xie: Social media plays a vital role in the success of crypto. I am sure that 90% of the crypto people are on Twitter, including all the CEOs of projects, head of exchanges, traders and journalists. If a project is not on social media, it is considered “not existing in the world”.
Therefore, social platforms like Twitter, Reddit are the best places for Bluzelle to reach out to the wider audience and establish a global community across various countries. And these are also the best channels for our members to receive the latest project updates and connect with us.
Different from traditional brands, social media metrics in crypto are important criteria to judge whether a project has a great potential and grows healthily. Most data shows that valuation of crypto is not only associated with tech, but also weak engagement on social media.
Rochelle: $BLZ’s FCAS has also increased 35.59% since the beginning of the year, which reflects growth in Bluzelle’s fundamental data. What do you think of crypto ratings that measure the health of assets? Do you use them to measure growth? What type of KPIs do you look at otherwise?
Xie: I think crypto ratings are beneficial to both crypto projects and their investors. Not only it helps crypto people to identify the best projects easily through ratings, it also encourages us as a project to thrive for success and remain globally competitive.
Most of the time people may only look at price data which is one-sided and highly misleading. FCAS measures the health of assets by incorporating user activity, developer behavior, and market maturity, which provides a more comprehensive view.
In Bluzelle, we leverage crypto ratings to evaluate our performance in tech, marketing and community operations compared to others. It helps us to identify our area of weakness so that we can improve on it. The increase of Bluzelle’s FCAS this year is definitely a strong validation of our product and marketing strategy. We will continue to grow and serve our community better.