You’ve probably been hearing the terms blockchain, crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) thrown around a lot lately.
What you may not know is they’re part of the greatest shift in the internet since the advent of Facebook. An evolution known as web3.
I’ll spare you the technical jargon around blockchain technology—the foundation for web3—there are countless articles that cover that ground.
Instead, I’ll provide a primer to web3, and how it’s going to impact marketers and the future of online communities. So, what should you, as a social media marketer know to get started?
What is web3?
At its core web3 is a decentralized internet.
Rather than a handful of big companies (like Google) running everything, the users own, operate and contribute.
Consumer capitalism is about the production of identity through brands more so than strictly goods. Web3 lets communities build collective identities, with NFTs as the means to bootstrap real products.
This inversion will be as significant as anything in our lifetimes.
— ✨ John Patten (@jpatten__) March 21, 2022
It’s best understood in context of the past.
Web1 was primarily simple static websites. The early days of AOL and Yahoo! News. You could read, but you weren’t creating content.
Web2 is the internet we know today. Social media is prevalent and everyone is a creator. You can go to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to create and or engage. We’re all sharing our voices.
Web3 is the next stage. It’s a decentralized internet, run on the blockchain where users are consumers, creators and owners.
What makes web3 different?
To understand the web3 ecosystem, it helps to identify the critical domains.
First, let’s start with “blockchain.”
You’ve probably all heard of Ethereum, Bitcoin, Solana, etc. Think of these as the operating system that web3 applications are built upon.
Now, if the blockchains are the operating system, you need to have apps.
Within the web3 space these are known as DApps, short for Decentralized Applications.
You’ll notice most things within this arena start with D (for decentralization). For example, DeFi (Decentralized Finance), DeSo (Decentralized Social media), DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations).
Web3 gives users self custody keys enabling them to self-encrypt and protect data instead of relying on applications to do so.
— Yashovardhan Agrawal (@yashovardhan) March 22, 2022
Why is web3 important to marketers?
With the advent of web3, paid advertising will be increasingly difficult.
Brands must understand how to build and engage communities organically.
Because Web3 offers pseudonymity, you’re not going to have the same demographic and geographic targeting capabilities.
What's it with DAOs and Web 3.0?
They are programmed in a way only token holders benefit and are the controllers of the protocol
Instead of board of directors making decisions in web 2, token holders make decisions in web 3.0
Isn't this innovative?
— Tech son (@MrCryptoo_) March 26, 2022
Additionally, many web3 communities are congregating around DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). DAOs are not companies in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re more akin to a club where members have a financial stake in how things are run.
As a result, advertising in a web3 world will look very different—in fact, they already are.
For example, let’s take a look at LinksDAO.
LinksDAO is a DAO that aspires to collectively purchase a golf course. The DAO issued NFTs which users purchased to act as passes. The community is thriving.
There’s over 15,000 members (Steph Curry among them) in the LinksDAO Discord. It’s not all online either—they’re hosting golf tournaments and meetups, and even have their own pro shop with LinksDAO merch.
This is a group with a lot of inbound brand interest.
But because they’ve raised tens of millions of dollars via NFTs, they’re in a position to be patient to align with the right brands. They’re not interested in a brand coming in and slapping a logo on their newsletter, site or Discord. No banner ads here.
I talked to Nick Walker, Partnerships Lead of LinksDAO.
As he put it, LinksDAO is “open to partnering with brands, but really focusing on brands that can add value to the community. This could be content, like AMAs with PGA players. Or, they could participate in fundraising efforts and events to help introduce the sport to underserved communities. LinksDAO wants to make golf more accessible to the masses. If brands can bring something novel to the table, we’re open to those conversations. However, we are fortunate that we don’t need to rely on ads to build our club.”
Big ad budgets are not a competitive advantage.
Instead, marketers that understand how to engage communities will thrive. They’ll need to engage potential customers as community owners, not as consumers.
How can marketers leverage web3?
Web3 marketing requires a new strategic approach.
Brands should start now.
Take a walk, crawl, run strategy.
- Crawl: Engage in conversations. Ninety percent of these web3 conversations are occurring on Twitter and Discord. Participants are excited to share what they know. Set up a crypto wallet. Purchase your brand’s Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain. These are simple steps to start getting acclimated.
- Walk: Purchase NFTs or join a DAO. There are countless DAOs across multiple passion points. There may be a community relevant to your brand already. Learn from their expertise. Bring exclusive content, access, information or entertainment to the table.
- Run: Once you’ve got your bearings and understand the ecosystem then it may be time to explore your own DAO, NFT or Web3 project.
BREAKING: Forbes is launching NFTs. @Forbes subscribers will get early access to the sale.
They are promoting the sale via IG ads.
So many Web3 marketing lessons to unpack here. pic.twitter.com/VZJD3XdV3l
— Ty Smith (@TyDanielSmith) March 22, 2022
Web3 is uncharted territory, but not for long
While the web3 ecosystem may feel overwhelming, it’s still early.
2022 is to web3 what 1997 was to web1. A relatively nascent ecosystem with few users (but growing quickly).
While it may seem complicated, more and more consumer centric apps with usability in mind are being built. This will grow the user base—making conditions ripe for brands willing to test and learn
Crawl now so that you can run (past your competition) later.
For a regular dose of expert insights like Brendan’s, subscribe to our newsletter today.
The impact of social media across every part of your businessPublished on February 22, 2023 Reading time 7 minutes
Metaverse dangers: How to protect brands from the dark sidePublished on January 19, 2023 Reading time 7 minutes
Don’t go it alone: Creating social relationships with technologyPublished on December 15, 2022 Reading time 4 minutes
Metaverse examples: The brands to watch across industriesPublished on December 14, 2022 Reading time 7 minutes