The Three C’s Approach to Web3: How Brands Can Avoid Getting Flamed
How Brands Can Dive into Web3 and Avoid Getting Flamed
Written by Brendan Gahan, Chief Social Officer at Mekanism
What is Web3 and why are people excited about it?
What Web3 promises is a version of the internet that isn’t owned by any corporate entities, but is built and operated by its users. This comes with a lot of exciting benefits like:
- Automation (smart contracts)
- Blockchain-based security
- Controls of data and privacy
Web3 is often better understood when given context around the previous iterations of the internet.
Web1.0 was a static version of the Internet. Information was consumed and not engaged. Web2.0 introduced engagement and interaction- the social realm of the internet. Web3.0 allows for a decentralized ecosystem and complete ownership of the content and communities you create.
Why Is Web3 Relevant To Brands?
We used to think social media was our direct line of communication with consumers. That’s no longer the case. Over 98% of your followers aren’t being served your organic content. You have to pay to reach consumers. It puts marketers on a content and advertising hamster wheel. Constantly churning in an attempt to reach consumers. Definitely not what we intended for the social landscape to be.
The social part of social media has been dominated by advertising. As we shift into a Web3 world, we won’t be able to pay for impressions or growth.
No longer is access controlled and throttled based on the business needs of Meta, Twitter, TikTok, etc. In a Web3 world users and builders are owners. As a result, they’re the gatekeepers. They’ll have built the digital roads and infrastructure for themselves — not for advertisers. This presents a unique challenge for brands.
How do you engage with communities that you can’t just pay to access?
How do you avoid the roadblocks of Web3?
Before you can reap the rewards of Web3, you need to understand this ecosystem and how to engage within it. You don’t want to end up with a hit to your reputation like MeUndies or Kylie Jenner sending DMs to sell NFTs.
First and foremost, when you enter this space, you need to do so with the intention of adding value to the community. The Web3 ecosystem is wary of brands. Too many have hopped on the bandwagon, for a quick PR hit, only to disappear. It left the builders and believers jaded and skeptical of a brands’ intentions.
So, what’s the formula for a successful web3 activation?
We’ve developed a roadmap. One whose central tenants include a long term perspective of collaboration, learning, and adding value.
The roadmap is broken down into three phases: Connect, Collaborate, Create.
The first step is all about getting the lay of the land.
Focus on getting fundamentals in place and educating your team internally. Set up a crypto wallet. Secure an ENS domain. Get security protocols in place (cold storage for example).
Additionally, explore the communities where your customers exist. Identify tastemakers and engage in conversations with them. Many within the Web3 ecosystem are eager to share their insights.
So you’ve got the fundamentals in place. Now it’s time to collaborate. Approach phase 2 through the lens of a ‘brand as patron’. Your goal is to engage with these communities as any other community member would.
Research and identify existing NFT/PFP projects, and DAO’s that are relevant to your brand. What are their values and in what ways are they seeking value?
Once you’ve identified these groups, support them. How can your brand benefit these communities? How can you show up as a member of the community?
Some ways to collaborate are to purchase NFT’s from key creators and influencers or provide incentives as ways for the community to engage like exclusive products, access to free merch and swag. For example, LinksDAO, a DAO for golf enthusiasts, recently launched an NFT project with the goal of raising funds to purchase an IRL golf course for the NFT-holders. They’ve partnered with Topgolf, owned by Callaway Golf, to build what they expect to be the world’s largest golf community. This collaboration was more than your standard partnership. Because the brand couldn’t advertise, they had to focus on investing in the community and adding value.
Ideally at this stage you’ve wrapped your head around what it takes to build a community in web3 and how to approach your audience.
From here you can explore building something that you own and operate. You could launch a DAO, NFT/PFP project, etc.
At the end of the day you’ve got to be providing value. Why should anyone join your branded community? What sort of access are they going to get? What added value?
One way of doing this is by creating loyalty programs that grant customers access to things like exclusive merchandise, experiences and products. Liquid Death, the canned water brand known for their edgy, irreverent branding, nailed their execution with the Murderhead Death Club NFT project. Customers who purchased a severed head NFT could use that NFT to join a secret VIP club where they’ll get “exclusive access to rad things you don’t need.”
Once you’ve executed a few web3 campaigns with your community, you can really start to invest in long-term partnerships and web3 plays. This could exist as a community hub that customers can access through tokens and NFTs. Other tactics you can employ to engage a community would be hosting virtual events or creating your own branded NFTs that give customers access to virtual or IRL swag.
While our roadmap is a useful tool, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to invest in earning trust, listening and learning from the communities you’re trying to engage with. In a web3 world, the power dynamics have shifted such that you can no longer force people to see your message. You have to create genuine believers that you treat as your peers.