So let’s look at three stories and see if we can spot a trend:
Kanye West is buying ‘free speech platform’ Parler https://t.co/khD7ZRIw5H pic.twitter.com/Mv0eWvg6de
— The Verge (@verge) October 17, 2022
Truth Social, the social media platform created by former President Donald Trump, has soared to the top of the Android app download charts after finally being allowed in the Google Play Store this week. https://t.co/l3SCUAJlwW
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 15, 2022
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has launched a private beta for its new social app Bluesky Social and unveiled AT Protocol, which will allow users to choose from different algorithms and to port their data to other social media networks. https://t.co/kD5np7Gqji
— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) October 19, 2022
What’s the trend? I think this is the start of people who have built successful brands either acquiring or creating new social media platforms. The Dorsey Bluesky Social news is breaking and to be honest, it’s a bit different from the Parler and Truth Social news, but I think it offers a nice bridge to what this could mean for Web 3.0.
Will any of these efforts be successful? I have my doubts. I tried Parler for a few months in 2021, and I just didn’t like it. It was far too focused on politics, and too much politics is….too much politics. I’ve been checking out Truth Social for a few months and while it is growing rapidly, content-wise it seems to be headed down the same path Parler did. Kayne’s brand will spark new interest in Parler just like Trump’s brand is pushing a lot of people to Truth Social.
The Bluesky Social news is slightly different. Dorsey clearly doesn’t have the personal brand that Ye or Trump have, but Bluesky is promising to be a decentralized platform that’s more Web 3.0 native in functionality and structure. Plus, if it positions itself as being ‘the web3 version of Twitter’, that will attract a lot of people. On the other hand, those of us who didn’t completely trust Dorsey while he was running Twitter probably won’t completely trust him running the potential web3 version of Twitter.
Still, I believe influencers creating platforms to connect with fans and around topics they want to focus on is something we will see more of in web3. I think it will be a transition, I could see Web 2.0 influencers who already have a built audience being first. Maybe someone like a Mr. Beast could have his own platform devoted to videos. Then over time, as the crop of web3 influencers emerge, they would have similar offerings associated with their brands. For example, I could see a @Coopahtroopa having a web3 platform devoted to web3 music.
Should Web3 Money Flow to Influencers or Topics?
This is where the rubber will meet the road in web3. I believe there is enormous potential for web3 to create decentralized communities that are organized around a niche focus. This could be an influencer creating a web3 platform for their fans so they can connect with them around topics the influencer enjoys. I think this is where a lot of money will flow once this ball gets rolling.
But I think the TRUE value for all of us will be in decentralized web3 communities that are driven and curated by the community itself. These communities would form around an idea, a topic, a vision. Something that like-minded people are passionate about, and can find value in connect with other people that share the same excitement. It could something as simple as a platform for Cleveland Browns fans to connect. Or it could be ham radio enthusiasts, or people dealing with chronic health issues who need a community for information and support.
These type of communities will be different from Web 2.0 counterparts, because the participants will have more ways to contribute and create value. For instance, a person who spends 4 hours a day on a platform connecting with people who are dealing with the same chronic illness has created value for the community. That value could be compensated in the form of tokens or something similar, which that person could either use as a form of personal income, or they could pool back into the community. Tokens could be pooled back into the community to crowd-fund initiatives that benefit the entire community. Maybe the community chips in and purchases a day of time with a medical expert to speak to the community and give customized advice to participants. The possibilities are endless.
Growing Slow Sometimes Beats Growing Fast
I talked a couple of weeks ago about how a community cannot go mainstream. The underlying message in that post was that as a community grows, it will eventually reach a point where the overall experience of the community begins to degrade. The community managers and the community itself needs to be aware of when this point is reached, and dial it back. If growth continues past that point, the community experience will continue to degrade and eventually the community could shatter.
When you add in the desire by a community to monetize its efforts, that can push for growth that may not be sustainable. It’s totally a balancing act and it will require smart managers who are rooted in their communities and have a deep understanding and appreciation of what the group is and wants to be.
The concept of what an online community is or could be will grow and evolve over the next few years as web3 technologies begin to take hold. I think you will see online communities that look different from Web 2.0 counterparts. I think you will see different structures, and you will see more integration with the offline world. The connections and value created online won’t be locked there, they will float and merge with the offline world.
It will be exciting to watch, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.