What Is an Airdrop? A Guide for Community Managers

What Is an Airdrop? A Guide for Community Managers


6 min read

Building and managing a strong community is essential in the web3 era. As a community manager, your role is to create a space that attracts, engages, and motivates like-minded individuals. A strong community not only fosters collaboration, feedback, and support but also plays a pivotal role in the success of decentralized projects.

Understanding what motivates community members is key to your community's growth and impact. People in the blockchain and crypto space often join projects intending to find a lucrative source of income or investment while others genuinely believe in the mission and goals of the project. For instance, a developer seeking to build a secure dApp may gravitate toward the Ethereum community, given Ethereum's reputation as a secure blockchain network.

Your ultimate joy as a community manager lies in having members who genuinely believe in and contribute to the project's success. Decentralized communities also wield considerable influence over a project's direction. Hence, it's crucial to find effective ways to manage member behavior and expectations. This is where incentivization comes into play.

Incentivization is a proven strategy to encourage community members to actively contribute to a project's success. Incentives can take various forms, including bounties, referral programs, creative competitions, content creation, and airdrops. In this article, we'll focus on airdrops and how they can be leveraged as a rewarding mechanism within your community.

What Is an Airdrop?

An airdrop is a marketing and promotional strategy involving the distribution of small amounts of a project's assets to individuals' wallet addresses at no cost. Participants receive airdrops as a reward for completing specific tasks, such as advertisements or referrals. This strategy is particularly popular among blockchain startups, aiming to raise awareness and stimulate the circulation of a new token, often associated with an initial coin offering (ICO).

๐Ÿ˜ƒ Fun Fact: The term "crypto airdrop" was inspired by physical airdrops that used aircraft to deliver resources, such as weapons, food, or medicine.

Types of Airdrops?

Airdrops are versatile and can be tailored to suit the specific goals and objectives of a project. Understanding the different types of airdrops can help you as a community manager to make informed decisions when planning your incentive programs. Here are the three main types of airdrops:

  1. Standard Airdrop

    • Simplicity in Distribution: Standard airdrops are perhaps the simplest form, making them accessible to a wide range of participants.

    • Minimal Requirements: Participants typically only need to provide a valid wallet address, and in some cases, no additional information is required.

    • Token Limits: These airdrops often have a predefined supply of tokens, and there may be a cap on the number of tokens each individual can receive.

    • Time Sensitivity: Some standard airdrops are time-sensitive, creating a sense of urgency to participate.

    • Potential Challenges: However, one challenge with standard airdrops is that individuals could create multiple wallets to maximize their rewards.

  2. Bounty Airdrop

    • Task-Oriented Rewards: Bounty airdrops, on the other hand, require participants to actively engage in specific tasks or actions to qualify for free tokens.

    • Task Examples: These tasks may include promoting the project on social media, sharing posts, writing reviews, inviting friends, or participating in other project-related activities.

    • Point-Based Rewards: Participants earn points for completing these tasks, and the number of points often determines the size of their bounty airdrop.

    • Qualification Thresholds: Some bounty airdrops may have minimum point requirements for participants to be eligible for their airdrop.

    • Recruitment Incentives: There could also be referral bonuses or finder's fees for those who bring in new participants.

  3. Holder Airdrop

    • Rewarding Loyalty: Holder airdrops automatically distribute tokens to users based on the amount of a particular cryptocurrency they hold in their wallets.

    • Public Ledger Transparency: The blockchain's transparent ledger ensures that token distribution is fair and verifiable.

    • Downsides and Requirements: However, this approach may not suit all participants, as some token holders may not desire additional airdrops.

    • Minimum Holdings: In some cases, holder airdrops may require participants to hold a certain quantity of tokens to qualify, while others may provide pro-rated awards based on holdings.

Each type of airdrop has its unique advantages and challenges, all you need to do is, understand your project's goals and target audience and select the most suitable.

How Do Airdrops Work?

Airdrops operate according to the goals and plans set by the project. Here's a typical process for how airdrops work:

  1. Campaign Design: The company designs a campaign to announce airdrop details and eligibility requirements on its website, social media channels, or forums.

  2. Collecting Participant Details: The company gathers information from interested participants, including proof of meeting eligibility requirements (such as a link to a post or receipt of a specific amount of token purchase), wallet addresses, and optionally email addresses for newsletters and promotions.

  3. Eligibility Verification: The company validates participants' eligibility, often using smart contracts to capture instances that prove a participant met the criteria. For example, a snapshot might be taken to identify wallet addresses holding a minimum amount of tokens at a specific time and date.

  4. Token Distribution: The company dispatches tokens to participants' wallet addresses, either immediately after meeting the criteria or at a predetermined date, often during a project's launch.

  5. Usage and Benefits: Once participants receive their airdrops, they are free to use them as they see fit or follow the project's terms and conditions. Airdrops can take various forms, such as NFT access tokens for private events, in-game assets, or convertible assets.

Criticism Around Airdrops

Despite the growing popularity and success rate achieved by blockchain projects, there are still potential risks attributed to airdrops. Here are some criticisms that pose a challenge to airdrops:

  • KYC Forms: Some airdrops require users to complete KYC (Know Your Customer) forms, which may conflict with the principles of privacy and anonymity in web3.

  • Dusting Attacks: Malicious actors may use airdrops to send small amounts of tokens (dust) to trace recipients' transactions, attempting to de-anonymize them.

  • Illiquid Altcoins: In some cases, illiquid altcoin projects may use airdrops as a means to inflate token value temporarily and then "pump and dump" them, leaving investors with worthless tokens.

Web3 users must conduct due diligence and verify the legitimacy of projects before sharing personal details or wallet addresses for airdrops.

What's Next?

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of airdrops and how they operate, you may be eager to explore this incentive mechanism. However, exercise caution to avoid falling victim to fraudulent projects.

Airdrops are just one element of the diverse tokenomics models available to web3 startups. If you are a community manager for a web3 project, consider crafting a strategic plan that aligns with your budget and the project's needs. And, if necessary, explore other marketing and promotional strategies to enhance your community's engagement and growth.