What is community in Web3, and how is it built?
Marketing to consumers has always required forging a connection between potential buyers and your brand. Brand community-building combines two necessary prongs of marketing, the right people and the right (communal) channel. Being able to foster a sense of community, of shared brand sentiment, can supercharge a brand’s identity in the minds of buyers. They are in this together, both identifying their tribe and making purchases.
Most Web3 marketing gives lip service to the idea that community underscores all successful launches and brand collaborations. You hear “strong Discord community” over and over. Discord, the messaging app initially built for gamers, is often flagged as THE comms platform in Web3. Discord is categorically not the best community channel in existence. It’s prone to scammers, has a complicated UX, and can be overwhelming for anyone interested in more than a handful of projects. And yet it persists, most likely on the back of the outsider status it confers. Using Discord proclaims, “this is not your mother’s Web2.”
Community support for projects yields digital eyeballs and digital purchases, both on the primary and secondary markets. Grow a large enough community and you can create something extraordinary, like Bored Ape Yacht Club, which has harnessed its wonders to create a vocal and thriving online community, a club people want to join. Some of this is by design. By owning a Bored Ape, you also own the IP for commercial activations. The rising tide of Bored Ape excitement lifts all boats, allowing owners to sell their ape’s likeness on t-shirts or tv shows and reap royalty income. This is a crucial function of the NFTs, this ownership of the IP.
But one question you ought to ask is, how do consumers get involved in this community? Traditional channels, e.g., email, Twitter, Instagram, still play an outsized role in attracting new users and communicating with those who have already expressed interest. You don’t find Discord channels by luck. You click through to them because you are already interested in a project and willing to wade through lots of not useful information to glean the exciting nuggets within a project or brand’s server.
So if your brand isn’t quite ready to jump on the NFT or metaverse bandwagon, what can you do to prepare today for when you are ready?
Three things you can do to build a foundation for your eventual activations:
Shore Up Your Channels
As mentioned, traditional channels are still hugely important for Web3 activations. Creating engaging content, being a valuable member of the social community, and embodying your brand voice go a long way in preparing to one day drop a successful brand NFT.
Understand Your Customers’ Preferences
Traditional channels like email and Twitter give you direct access to your consumers and potential consumers. The beginnings of your Web3 community will stem from what your current customers are interested in. While an NFT activation might highlight your brand to new potential customers, it’s not a magic bullet for growing your customer base. The best activations are a stretch for brands, bridging them into a new space, but not a complete 360, abandoning their old customer base for something new, shiny, and untested.
Take this time to understand your customers’ perspectives on new technologies. How do you communicate with them currently, Twitter, email, SMS? What are they testing out in the Web3 space? Do they own NFTs? Use AR to take social media pics? These tastes will evolve, but understanding your consumers’ and ideal consumers’ desires will make it easier to jump quickly when the right idea comes along.
Pivot your Perspective
From now on, the idea of Web3 should at least be mentioned in all of your digital strategy discussions. When you talk about your CRM, you should think about NFTs. Will communication through consumers’ crypto wallets be a core part of your communication and customer identity strategy in the future? Most likely. When you talk about influencers, you should consider how real and digital-only influencers will act in the metaverse. Will you send virtual goods to virtual influencers to impress their metaverse fans? Most likely.
And when you talk about performance metrics, you should consider which ones work the best for you that might port over to metaverse activations. Currently, some platforms don’t allow in-game purchases. Others have a clunky set-up. Some NFTs function well across platforms, some may not. These factors will impact your ability to monitor and measure activations effectively.
This brave new world of Web3, while in some ways revolutionary, is also very much an evolution of the current state. Thinking critically about the tools you are already using that can be parlayed into Web3 success is a concrete way to prepare for the future without forgetting your current targets and goals.