There are a lot of buzzwords that get thrown around in the crypto and NFT space, in recent times “web3 marketing” has become one of the most prolific as a direct result of the term web3 gaining prominence. Admittedly use both of these terms myself and as such I wanted to write about the terms in more detail and address what they mean to me, specifically.
Like many creators and those working within the space, I use the term web3 and occasionally web3 marketing in some of my articles and posts. The term web3 even features in my LinkedIn and other social bios. However, it’s more than just a buzzword, it’s an important keyword to draw in the right audience for the content we put out there.
That said, there’s an elephant in the room. Definitions of web3 and as a consequence web3 marketing can vary and are open to interpretation. Due to the fact that web3 is in its infancy, attaching marketing to the term could be problematic.
In the following I explore web3 in more detail and decipher what exactly web3 marketing could mean for the future and well as present day. Let’s dive in!
Web3 – still a grey area
It could be argued we are in currently in a bit of a grey area when it comes to web3. It’s still very early days and as such classifications sometimes vary.
The term web3 was actually coined by Gavin Wood, Polkadot founder and Ethereum co-founder way back in 2014. Using the lengthened term web 3.0, at the time Gavin referred to a “decentralized online ecosystem based on blockchain” – wired.com.
However, it was not until 2021 that web3 garnered much more attention. Let’s take a look at some recent definitions of web3.
CoinMarketCap – Web3 definition
Starting with CoinMarketCap – quote “Web 3.0 is the upcoming third generation of the internet where websites and apps will be able to process information in a smart human-like way through technologies like machine learning (ML), Big Data, decentralized ledger technology (DLT), etc”.
Investopedia – Web3 definition
Investopedia suggests web3 represents the next iteration of evolution of the web. They concede there is as yet no standardised definition of Web 3, but point out the defining features include decentralisation, trustless and permissionless, artificial intelligence and connectivity and ubiquity.
Ethereum.org – Web3 definition
Finally, Etherium.org describes web3 has become a catch-all term for the vision of a new, better internet. They argue “At its core, Web3 uses blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs to give power back to the users in the form of ownership”.
Open, trustless, and permissionless
A post from 2020 twitter post simply describes the three iterations of the web – Web1 was read-only, Web2 is read-write, Web3 will be read-write-own. A commonality across many definitions found online is that web3 will create an open, trustless, and permissionless network. These form the three key pillars below.
- Open – Web3 will be an open-source software which is built by an open and accessible community of, executed with transparency and in the full view of the world.
- Trustless – Web3 will enable participants to interact both publicly or privately without the need for any trusted third party.
- Permissionless – Web3 will not require users or suppliers have any kind of authorisation from a governing body or centralised agency for participating.
In summary web3 is completed decentralised, it is open source, doesn’t require any third party or authorisation from a centralised governing body to access it
The core elements of web3
The image above constitutes the 6 characteristics that make up web3 according to Influencer Marketing Hub. However they are not alone in their definitions with many others citing similar fundamental elements. To answer the question of whether we are indeed in web3, or at least partially in web3 let’s address the characteristics that constitute this.
In no particular order, here are some of the fundamentals of web3.
1. The Semantic Web
This is an evolution how content is presented to the user. We’ve seen the evolution of Google search in its many iterations; however, this is a step beyond keyword recognition. A semantic web enables humans and computers to communicate, making natural conversations between humans and computers possible. The idea of the semantic web goes far beyond searching for content via search engines.
In my opinion this is probably the most talked about feature of web3, but not without good reason. In web3 user data is stored in a multitude of locations rather than a central data storage. Decentralisation is at the core of web3, and this provides benefits which include reducing the risk of data theft as well as another talked about feature, ownership of data.
3. Ubiquity and Connectivity
Web3 has the capacity of being everywhere at any time. I.e., accessible by anyone, on any device, and in any application. Yes, that means users do not need a computer or smart phone to access the web. This makes IOT possible, a collection of network-enabled devices that communicate with each other using Internet Protocol. Essentially everything is connected to the web.
4. Artificial Intelligence
As with the notion of the Semantic Web, AI focusses on a better understanding between humans and computers. As it stands people and a computer speak different languages, but this is starting to change. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is improving how computers understand, interpret and even manipulate human language. In web3 this is useful as it helps computers to better understand a user’s data inputs.
5. Virtual Reality
VR or three-dimensional (3D) makes the development of more applications using three-dimensional design possible. Undoubtably VR is one of the most recognisable aspects of web3. Virtual reality brings to mind the metaverse, which of course has been a much-discussed topic in recent years. We have seen the beginnings of this with many metaverses launching games and metaverses using VR, to entice brands such as Nike to build their virtual kingdoms.
Last but not least, blockchain technology underpins much of what many would see as essential in web3, especially digital ownership and decentralisation. Storing data on the blockchain rather than centralised systems creates transparency, paves a way for data security and enables consumer trust. Users need to trust what happens with their data.
The question – Are we in web3 now?
As I write this, I’m sat at my desk with a cup of coffee on the side, web browser open (Chrome) planning to post this on LinkedIn. I’ll likely share this article from my twitter account later. Sound familiar?
The above sounds like web2 to me. Of course, I also have the option of more decentralised choices available to me. I could make this article an NFT so that I truly have ownership of this work. As it stands, I technically do not own this article, nor do I own any of the other articles I post – LinkedIn does. As pointed out above, decentralisation and ownership of content and data is a key characteristic of web3, but at present we do not have this as standard. We have to create NFTs and use dApps to achieve decentralisation.
As it stands the very entrance to the internet is web2 as standard, but this opens up the opportunity to interact with decentralised applications. It’s true that there are many companies starting out that are truly grounded in web3, such as DAOs. But from a marketing perspective, how we search and find content via the web is still using web2 as an entrance point.
So, perhaps rather than being fully immersed in web3, perhaps we use web2 as the door to access web3 applications (dApps) and utilise aspects that will form the future of web3, such as NFTs and Tokens.
The follow up question – what is “Web3 Marketing”?
From the perspective of not being not being in web3 yet, but in web2, where users can access the beginnings of web3 – dApps, NFTs, Tokens, I want to explore where marketing fits into this.
Let’s unpack this in the same vein, staring with how marketing traditionally works within web2.
At present user data collected and controlled by centralised companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter & YouTube who own people’s data and decide what to do with it. For this reason, marketers only have to interact with the given platform to access user data, which informs marketing strategies and campaigns used to acquire, and engage with customers.
This will all change once we enter the decentralised world of web3. A shift in ownership of data from centralised companies to the user will change everything for marketers. Data will be stored in a distributed network, as opposed to centralised locations.
In web3 users will decide how and where to share their data and as such marketers will have a more hands on role by having to engage with more stakeholders to get data. These stakeholders include users, developers, and the communities they engage with.
As a result of this increased engagement, web3 marketing is essentially an advancement of community marketing. For marketers this will mean investing more time and resources into learning what their customers care about – building marketing strategies around this. This doesn’t mean that current web2 approaches used, such as content marketing and SEO will disappear and be replaced in web3, but will be used alongside decentralised developments, like NFTs, Tokens, dApps and so on.
Web3 marketing: Looking to the future
Now that we’ve looked at what web3 marketing, what it is and briefly touched on the future, I want to focus on what this means for marketing in more detail.
Rather than looking at the impact of marketing on web3, perhaps we should rephrase this as “the impact of web3 on marketing”. This is because the landscape of marketing is likely to look totally different when the core elements of web3 come into play, the semantic web, decentralisation, ubiquity, AI, AR and blockchain.
In particular blockchain technology will allow for transparency within the web, especially in relation to data and as such will increase consumer trust. This will likely have a huge impact on digital marketing as we know it today. Increased data privacy for users many well make it significantly for marketers to collect consumer data.
Here are 3 ways web3 could impact marketing in the future:
- Data – Restricted access to user numbers and data
Once customer data is no longer collected and stored by centralised companies, gaining access to information to inform marketing strategies will be impacted. This will push marketers to be more transparent with data collection and usage leading to more creative ways to reach their target audience. This brings us to the second point, community.
- Community – Marketing approach that is community-focused
Customers will own their data, and this will cause a large shift in power, from company to the consumer. Via social media consumers will collectively decide and promote the ideas they’re most interested in, instead of being marketed to by brands. As a result, this shift in control will make community building much more important for marketers.
- Content – Greater control and ownership for content creators
Discussed earlier, creators posting on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify never truly own their content. Creators are at the mercy of the platforms they publish on with strict guidelines on what they can and can’t post, not to mention the limited earning potential.
To prepare for web3, platforms will either need to adapt their model or will be replaced. I believe in the coming years we will likely see an increase in content produced as NFTs, giving full ownership and autonomy to the creator.
In my opinion the above will constitute the reality of “web3 marketing” in the future. But what about today?
In the current climate, is web3 marketing just a buzzword or tangible marketing approach?
Web3 marketing: present day
If we take a step back, it’s clear that we are only at the start of web3. The core elements and characteristics have been defined, with aspects of web3 creeping into web2 – NFTs, tokens, dApps and DAOs.
Marketers still have access to the user data they require from centralised companies, so they do not have to adapt their approach at present. However, the narrative is changing.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways web3 marketing applies in today’s world.
Helping “traditional” brands prepare for web3
With the concept of web3 gaining traction rapidly, for many brands the notion of a decentralised web is no longer looking like an if, but a case of when. The reality is that it could happen much sooner than we realise.
In this setting the role of web3 marketing is clear – helping brands to prepare and adjust their strategies to be ready for this inevitable shift in marketing.
Here are some ways to create a web3 marketing strategy today:
- Social media – Start talking with customers
This is so important. Most brands post on social, they may reply to the odd comment, but do they have meaningful conversations with customers and develop a connection?
Social media will remain a significant part of web3, even when users will be in control of their data. Talking with customers today, having meaningful conversations and building relationships will build a strong foundation to prepare for web3. Being proactive and doing this early will make customers more willing to trust brands with their data in the future.
So, what could marketers do today? Marketers should rethink how they perceive their customers, look beyond the data and the numbers and start to see them as a community. Marketers need to be invested in building strong and long-lasting relationships with their followers, as community building will be at the core of web3 marketing.
Running services demos or product launches by the community first is so important, to the point that customers can and will have a say in what brands GTM with in the future. Remember, it’s not a one-way conversation any more.
- Web3 trends – Keep up to date
It’s okay not to know about crypto, NFTs and how blockchain technology works, but the one way to change this is to get involved and learn. Being outdated in any industry can be costly.
Brands should go on social and read about web3 trends, even purchase some digital assets such as NFTs or land (depending on their business structure). However, the most important takeaway here is to be aware and learn. Without informed knowledge it’s difficult to envision what the future holds and as such develop future thinking marketing strategies.
- Content creation strategy – Bring in NFTs
If there are two things that will hold great importance for web3 in the future, it’s community and NFTs. Organisations can address both of these by adding NFTs to their content strategy.
Brands creating NFTs in present day may be seen as forward thinking, and at the cutting edge of technology. With NFTs being community driven this can support the increase in brand awareness and customer reach.
- Memes – Start using them in (if possible)
For the old school this is going to be hard to get their head around. However, the ways in which we interact outside of work is changing and this finds its way into business, especially though social media.
Before brands ignore this, they should realise that memes are universal and the web3 community are big supporters of them. Memes allow brands to be seen as relatable, more human and importantly – approachable. This could be key to help with building a community.
- Web3 KPIs – Measure the efforts above
Measuring success is essential. Following the implementation of a new web3 marketing strategy, marketers will need to revaluate how to measure growth performance. What counts as success?
The KPIs used for web2 will not necessarily apply to a web3 marketing plan. Brands should consider introducing metrics for community focused KPIs such as:
- Number of active community members across all channels
- How many engagements with community members were had – month on month
- Number of meaningful connections made
If a brand decides to conduct an NFT sale. KPIs they could add might relate to the following:
- Sell out time on the day of the NFT mint
- Floor price – month on month
- Highest resale price – monthly and to date
- Number of holders (compared to amount in circulation)
The above metrics will continue to develop over time, especially once we actually move into web3. However, for now marketers should focus on metrics that measure community engagement.
Web3 companies: Crypto and NFT projects
While the above focusses primarily on traditional brands, we need to address companies that have come into realisation because of blockchain or the crypto space more generally. These include cryptocurrency and NFT projects and those related companies, such as centralised and decentralised crypto exchanges and NFT marketplaces.
These companies have been at the forefront of web3 marketing, their brands live and breathe decentralisation and by all means and purpose they embody web3. Those still standing from 2017 or before truly know the struggle of being found online, within delisting coming from centralised entities like Google, Facebook. Many companies being banned from using paid ads and unfriendly algorithms preventing them from being seen.
Web3 marketing was essentially born on the back of this, with new crypto friendly, decentralised channels being created and utilised to get their messaging to the right audiences – Discord, Reddit, Telegram, Medium and crypto only paid ads sites used as an alternative to Google and traditional channels. I about this extensively in my article Digital marketing for blockchain.
In my opinion crypto an NFT projects have built the foundations for web3 marketing, a template for others to use, adopting a community-first marketing approach. This is now a blueprint for traditional organisations to follow.
Web3 marketing: evolution in community marketing
Whether a brand is looking to adapt their marketing strategies to prepare for web3 or an established crypto or NFT project – the common denominator is community.
However, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the notion of “community” is new as this is simply not the case, but the sheer weight that the web3 ideology places on consumers and their preferences makes this all the more significant.
We have seen that community will continue to grow in importance within marketing as we gradually make our way towards the 3rd iteration of the internet, web3. This primarily comes down to data ownership. Perceptive marketers release that when users are able to take decisions on the location and method for sharing their data, interactions will need to substantially increase.
Marketers are starting this “community first” approach now, rather than resting on their laurels waiting for greater restrictions on data to come into effect. They are using this as an opportunity and interacting with more stakeholders within organisations. This community first marketing strategy includes developing engagement and retention strategies with stakeholders, which primarily include investors, partners, developers and community as a whole.
Many marketing professionals have already started to use this community first approach, redefining go-to-market (GTM) as go-to-community (GTC) marketing. I recently highlighted an article discussing the GTC methodology, which I believe is worth checking out.
In my opinion this community driven approach defines web3 marketing in its current form, with marketers going directly to the source for the data they require. Speaking with the increasing number of stakeholders is proving to be a successful strategy, helping marketers to really know their customer by investing more time and resources into learning about individual customer experiences.
In essence – web3 marketing in the form of “community marketing” allows marketing professionals to find more data points to identify and build strategies to ensure greater customer satisfaction.
Reviewing it all
So, Web3 Marketing: Just a buzzword or tangible marketing approach?
Before I answer that question, I believe it’s important to address the point that not every aspect of marketing has changed or will change for web3. It’s common read a lot of posts on social media that try to make people believe everything will change, this is simply not true.
However, what is clear is that any marketing activity that is informed by user or company data will be significantly impacted in the future. Therefore, it’s likely true that practices such as competitive analysis, which requires company data, and lead generation, which requires user data, will be somewhat impacted.
But the above related to the future, users are not yet the gatekeepers of their data and as marketers we have access to this. If web3 marketing is about navigating through decentralisation and data ownership in the future, what does it mean right now?
For me, web3 marketing in its current form is primarily about preparing for web3, by putting much more emphasis on community marketing and interacting with more stakeholders. In addition, web3 marketing today is about being proactive and utilising the aspects of web3 we have today, NFTs, Tokens, dApps and even DAOs.
As a marketer, knowing where the pendulum if shifting and being prepared for the eventuality of web3 is essential. Building stronger relationships with customers now, exposing ourselves to blockchain technology, using DeFi like decentralised applications and living by the core beliefs of web3 will inform better marketing strategy decisions, now and in the future.
In my humble opinion Web3 marketing might not be a 100% defined approach yet, but it’s certainly a tangible marketing approach.