NFT communities are dying. But they paved the way for Web3 communities to hyper-grow for the past 2 years, and Web3 marketing and community-building tactics are heavily influenced by the marketing META that NFT communities introduced in the space.
But NFT communities aren’t exactly dying. They’re hibernating, and they’re hibernating because the growth of NFT communities is a function of the state of the market. In the long-awaited 2021 bull run, NFT sales climbed to an all-time high of $11.6B in Q4. By the end of the year, NFT sales had already exceeded $17B — which was 21,354.5% more than 2020’s figure of $82.5M — a whopping 200x industry explosion.
In bull runs, NFT communities explode. In bear runs, NFT communities wither. That’s just the way it is because the value of NFTs is inherently driven by crypto.
NFT communities paved the way to accelerate Web3 adoption. But NFTs did more than just that, NFTs laid the foundation of Web3 marketing and community building at the forefront of Web3 culture, storytelling, and community building. NFTs basically standardized the way Web3 projects, companies, communities, and builders marketed and grew communities in Web3 — it was all about hype, culture, momentum, and exchange of value.
Web3 marketing is different. Marketing in Web 2 is defined as the “action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” But in Web 3, marketing isn’t meant to promote a product or a service — it’s meant to promote a community (i.e., projects first have to be community-backed, creator-backed, and investor-backed, before people can legitimately trust their product).
NFT marketing is a subset of Web3 marketing, and NFT marketing takes “community promotion” to a whole new level through events, activities, and giveaways.
As a community builder, it's also important to note that events, activities, and giveaways aren’t authentic “community building” tactics because they don’t provide inherent value, more than just hype and momentum. Contrary to popular belief, a discord server or a Facebook group doesn’t make a community — just because you have a group of people on a platform doesn’t mean you have a community.
A group of people in a platform only evolves into a community when the exchange of value happens on all levels of the organization, from newcomers to the OG’s. In other words, a server or a group is only a community when the members of the platform are contributing to or helping each other.
This is why NFT and Web3 marketing is divided into two approaches: short-term and long-term marketing.
Short-term marketing strategies and campaigns revolve around events, launches, and giveaways that “blow up” the community metrics. These campaigns are meant to give the project a burst or increase in community members and let people in the space know that the project exists. For Web 2 marketers and advertisers, think of these as “brand awareness” campaigns.
Long-term marketing strategies and campaigns, on the other hand, involve weekly development updates, content marketing, and genuine community-building events and activities from forums, AMAs, and conferences that facilitate the exchange of value to community members — more than just giveaways.
To simplify, short-term campaigns are the reason why people ape in the project’s ecosystem, while long-term campaigns are the reason why people actually stay, contribute, and not just lurk.
Web3 projects from DeFi, layer 0 platforms, and other projects in the Web3 ecosystem that isn’t part of the NFT craze also adhere to the short-term and long-term formula which was laid by NFT marketing. However, these Web3 communities have to focus on the long-term approach more than the short-term approach, as they have to facilitate real value upfront.
However, NFT communities will play a vital role in the growth of upcoming Web3 projects through collaborations. As such, Web3 founders should actively look for already established NFT communities that fit the vision that they’re building for a long-term collaboration that will grow both communities.
-> Learn how to launch Web3 collaborations that grow communities here.
Web3 communities will change in the next years as the space will realize that NFT communities aren’t what defines the Web3 space. Though NFT projects will always play a huge role in Web3, in the next 3–5 years, NFT projects will not anymore be the defining factor of Web3 — especially with more Web3 technologies, such as layer 0 projects joining the ecosystem.
The future of Web3 communities will revert back to where the space was circa 2018 — projects focused on building the grassroots with real communities and builders who are in the space more than just the exclusivity and the flip. As such, the momentum will swing back from NFT communities to communities of Web3 tech, education, and projects that have real use cases and utilities other than just culture, community, and art.
However, these Web3 communities will be partnering and collaborating with already established NFT communities to reshape the space back to a long-term mindset. Which begs the question…
According to Jiro Reyes, the CEO of Web3 edutech startup Bitskwela, NFT communities are hibernating now, but we’re expecting to see the rise of the billion-dollar industry again in the next bull run.
As for when the next bull run will happen again? I’d leave the TA to the technical people in the community. But the good news is, real exchange of value is coming to the space again soon — value that’s above hype, culture, and momentum.
This is why I’m excited to build and scale Bitskwela’s Crypto Education community — with the mission of helping Filipinos own a piece of the internet — providing FREE Web3 and crypto learning materials for builders, traders, and enthusiasts in the space.
More on this in the next article.
JC Macalintal is a venture developer, full-stack marketer, and community builder. He helps entrepreneurs around the world build company portfolios. Read his pieces if you want to build or you want to feel something.
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