Toward web3 Marketing

Supposing you are a startup in the blockchain space… How can you do a genuine web3 thing around your presence and your marketing? What does it mean to communicate in a “web3 way?”

Here are some thoughts, still a bit random, but “experiments are ongoing”…

  1. Probably better launch a coin of some kind. Unless your business is creating the mechanics of blockchains, you’ll want to do this on a sidechain, either your own or as part of Solana (which seems like the current leader, but of course that could change), or tied back to the Ethereum chain. Some people are referring to these sorts of alt-coins as “creator coins.” With a coin, you can both earn and pay out with a private universe that, with luck, is expanding. This means you earn more and more while being able to pay less for more and more. If someone tells you this sounds like a bubble, look them straight in the eye and tell them they don’t get it. Any of it.
  2. Or give away fractions of well-known (Bitcoin, Ether, Solana) coins in exchange for people learning about your product. This is actually the piece I find most interesting at the moment as far as genuine web3 marketing goes. If a person creates a Coinbase account (not something I necessarily recommend, because Coinbase seems unnecessarily pricey to me), they get offers to go through a few pages of what amounts to actual coursework in exchange for, say, five dollars worth of Bitcoin. There are a number of these sorts of offers—Coinbase has effectively created an alternative sort of advertising market here. I’d love to see some startup create this sort of marketplace more directly, though tying it to a wallet/exchange like Coinbase also makes a certain inherent sense. With or without Coinbase, though, the direct exchange of cryptocurrency for serious engagement (including quizzes to make sure you got the message before you get your coin) seems like an approach that may not be available forever. Right now, five bucks worth of Bitcoin somehow seems worth a whole lot more than “just five bucks” to the crypto enthusiast. And this could be done with any alluring alt-coin, including coins that basically weren’t worth much. You know, here’s 10,000 shiba inu (Sounds like a lot? It’s 33 cents USD) for your high-level attention.
  3. You would think that with all the hype there would be a way to build a website using web3. But if you go googling for how to build a web3 website, you’ll get articles on visual design, letting you know that in the web3 world, crazy background gradients rule.

    I don’t know anything about him except that a page turned up as I was rooting around for how to build a genuinely web3 site, but I’m with Tim:

Indeed, if you were capable of cleaning your mind of specific memories, specifically, let’s say you could do grep -l web3 brain | xargs rm. And then someone asked you how you’d envision a blockchain-based and smart-contract-enabled web3; you’d likely describe an ecosystem vastly different to what it is today. You’d think about peer-2-peer networks, light clients, and renewed web standards. That’s precisely not web3.

In today’s experience it will instead be mostly shitty react websites that crash or stop working when you’ve neglected to install Metamask (or other key-management plugins). Opening a web3 website’s network console, you’ll see that it’s making an excessive amount of RPC request to an Ethereum full node. Sorry, I meant to say Infura node, a hugely-popular cloud provider hosting Ethereum full nodes. That’s kinda stupid.

4. Double down on content marketing. Strangely, I think the big marketing discovery of web 2.0—SEO—remains the primary tool for marketing in the web3 world as it stands today. Content marketing is web3 marketing.

I don’t mean manipulative, bullshit SEO. In fact, I think bullshit SEO (aka black-hat SEO, but I used to work at a security conference called Black Hat and I never liked the SEO tried to repurpose the phrase) is completely played out. The win is in providing excellent content that people link to because it’s the best out there. Because they link to it, the search engine indexers gradually become aware that more and more traffic is hitting your content from backlinks at sites around the web and “aura” around your content becomes increasingly visible. Your rankings improve. Over time—it’s a long game strategy.

5. Find a way to tie into the wild enthusiasm. I get it that what I’m saying here is pretty vague. But the background thinking is simply that right now, people who are interested in web3 are really interested. They are looking for the new stuff, talking to each other about the new stuff, holding Twitter spaces about the new stuff. So if you can manage to be a small part of the new stuff, people will actively encourage your thing being discovered. This is unlike almost every other market, even in tech, where people generally aren’t eager to believe you have anything new, doubt its important if you do, and generally don’t want you to bother them.

But what’s new in a context where everything is new? Here, you’re going to have to be inventive and actually come up with something new. But note that the newness can come from more than one source. Newness can be present when:

  • What your startup does is new, like a new way to tie physical goods to NFTs.
  • The way your startup does it is new, like a food supplier that has adopted blockchain in a novel way to track inventory.
  • The way you market it is new, like you create a DAO to handle your company communications (though there have been several DAOs of note where the DAO is the whole organization, as far as I’m aware no one has said, hey, let’s form a DAO to spread the word about what we’re doing and let DAO owners control the message and make sure its content is genuinely useful. Is this a good idea? I couldn’t say. But you get the idea.) If there’s a DAO tied to your marketing, then even if you don’t quite know what the hell’s going on, it’s still web3 marketing.

6. Spend some money. I think your money spent on sponsoring events and giving away swag goes far, far further in blockchain than it could ever hope to in, say, cybersecurity. People who go to NFT events are positively desperate to be covered in blinking LED lights. People at cryptocurrency events want cool black challenge tokens and they like free drinks as much as the next industry’s conference attendees. The show up at work wearing tshirts, so if yours is cool, it will actually get worn in situations where people seeing it matters.

Does anything about this create a new form of marketing? Not yet. But we’ll keep an eye out for that as well, won’t we? After all, cryptocoins hold the promise of direct reward for small increments of a person’s attention (as in point 2 above). So there may well be interesting alternatives we haven’t thought of just yet.


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