When I attended my first Web3 conference, I entered with caution, not fully confident about how a newcomer to the space would be approached. I’d heard nauseating stories of “crypto bros” being the next ideation of the finance bro, just with worse hair and brighter-colored logos on their vests and t-shirts.
However, while the crypto bros CLEARLY do exist, this was not at all what I experienced, and still continue to experience, in the space. What I immediately noticed was how welcoming and willing to engage in educational conversations everyone attending was. It was a surprise at first, but upon engaging in conversations about what is required for the growth and scale of Web3 companies, there was always one resounding commonality: We need people to want to participate in order to grow, and not only would it be counterproductive to that to be exclusionary, but that’s also not what the space is about.
Knowing that all growth must begin somewhere, an interesting dilemma comes about when it comes to marketing a platform in the Web3 space. Many marketing strategies for traditional or Web2 companies focus on showing consumers what they’re missing out on in order to gain their business, such as savings, opportunities, point collection and redemption, or access to an exclusive group. However, when building from the ground up, none of those aspects exist yet, and in the case of Web3, might never be part of the plan. So, what should a Web3 company’s marketing plan focus on, then? The people.
Web3 platforms must view their users, not the money their users put in, as their most valuable assets. In order to grow users and grow themselves, these companies need to create and foster a community out of their user base that not only feels, but actually is, genuine, welcoming, and authentic. The two main avenues through which marketers can build this community of people are education and engagement.
Where does one go to learn about the space? Colleges and high schools don’t have Web3 classes or majors, and until that happens, those looking to learn will need to seek out not only a community where they can learn but also feel comfortable entering with any (or no) knowledge basis. That leaves it up to the companies themselves, to provide a huge marketing opportunity. Marketing through educational content is one of the best ways to get newcomers involved, interested, and invested. The more time a user invests in learning about the product or company, the more comfortable they will become with it, and therefore more likely to engage more often. Webinars, 101 classes, podcasts, case studies, and in-person pop-ups on introductory topics are all great ways to educate while building a community.
Marketing through educational content helps to generate interest and traffic, build trust, convert potential users into community members, and- maybe most importantly for companies starting out in a new space- is extremely cost-effective. One important aspect to keep in mind is that it is not just one company’s responsibility to educate, however. The more educational content is available via multiple platforms and from various companies in the space, the more there is for users to engage with and be interested in, and the more each community can grow.
Engagement with Web3 platforms can come in many manifestations and can even be part of the Web2 makeup as well. While the drama carries on within their own houses (I’m still waiting for that Musk/Zuck cage fight to happen) Twitter/X Spaces, chat platforms, and general presence and availability on social media are great ways to increase engagement and encourage growth of a community. AMA (ask me anything) sessions and troubleshooting with team members as hosts are great starters to engagement, as newcomers may not be comfortable asking questions on their own without encouragement or knowing they’re in a safe space for that type of conversation.
Engagement comes in non-online forms, as well; for example, where we started this piece- conferences. As I experienced myself, conferences are a great place to get immersed in the space, get to know those within the community IRL, and take interacting with the platform to a new level. All of these pieces are vital building blocks to creating a community that can be taken on and offline, and on and off chain.
Power Through the People
Web3 companies need to focus on the emotional buy-in before they can even start thinking about the monetary buy-in. They need to use marketing skills and tactics like those outlined above to get noticed, and then to get users invested in and caring about what they have to offer. Building comes in many forms, from building platforms and products to building out websites, but the most important building Web3 companies can do is the building of their community of supporters, believers, and users.