By Ramkumar Subramaniam
Let us look at the way the web has evolved. Come to think of it, the primary motive behind the creation of the World Wide Web and the Internet was to put some focus on the community rather than keeping it all converged at certain centralized bodies. While the first version of the web cracked the essential communication barriers, it did not do the same with respect to information transfer. This was a major triumph to the community considering the fact that information was no longer local and communication was not just confined to one particular corner of the globe.
The second version of the web which be fondly address as Web 2.0 has considerably gone ahead in diversifying the ways in which information was both created and consumed. We saw the rise of platforms like Facebook, Blogger, and YouTube spearhead this revolution. We have got to give some credit to the improvement of Internet speeds and the way in which hardware, and especially mobile hardware grew during this stage. It was now easy for even a common person to shoot and edit high definition videos… and upload them on channels like YouTube without any difficulty.
Here again, the community saw something unprecedented. The community was no longer the consumer of information but a provider of information as well. This created a strong and vibrant brand of independent creators who knew that they had the power to reach even the remotest of the people on the planet with the Internet connectivity being the only factor required. The catch in Web 2.0, however, was that the commercial elements were still centralized.
Let me break it down further for you! The creativity would reach everyone and the centralized platforms would enhance the engagement on their platforms by showcasing these creations. However, the creator only got a small portion of what the centralized platform made from its advertising revenues capitalizing on the engagement.
We also need to note here that, in most cases, the consent to use personal data for advertising purposes has been quite implicit and passive, and these centralized platforms piggybacked on the naivety of the consumers to coax them into accepting the conditions that would open up their precious personal data for advertising purposes.
Now it is high time we thought about giving complete and true powers to the community in terms of commercial interests and data privacy.
The primary step in giving wise to the community is to create a platform for the community to be heard. There were forums that have always existed but they were just there for the community to connect with each other. More often than not, the suggestions of the community were ignored.
Web3 has, with utmost strength and solidity, emphasized the importance of the community in every possible dimension. Now, the community has complete command over the future course of certain organizations and games, fittingly referred to as decentralized autonomous organizations or DAOs. Even on platforms that are semi-centralized, the community has a voice, thanks to channels like Discord where the organization takes active note of community feedback and engages in interactive sessions periodically, so they can understand the pulse of the community.
Our Closing Words
The world has steadily been progressing towards decentralization, autonomy, and self governance… Not in lines of anarchy but more on the lines of putting ahead the greater good for the society instead of heavily centralized and individual personal interests. Social networks changed the narrative of communication over the Internet. And Web3 is all set to change the communication and commercial landscape of the web as a whole. It will be centered around the community and the progress of projects will converge from the periphery towards the center rather than radiating from the center towards the periphery.
Way back in 2011, community management was one of the auxiliary skills when it came to marketing. It was just about marking a presence on forums and Google groups where there will be one official representative. The role of the community manager was just to ensure that there was prompt engagement on social media, especially on Facebook and Google groups. There was some activity going on in platforms like Reddit and Quora… but they were quite negligible.
Today, however, the community manager is one of the most important roles in Web3 companies… And it would not be a surprise to see a role called Chief Community Officer.
You can see a lot of blockchain/NFT/Web3 companies recruit people exclusively for community management. People have started to include their Discord handle on the website, and people have started to promote their Discord channels through bed advertising. Let us look at it with simple business eyes. Companies would not invest in places where there are no returns and where it does not make business sense. If companies are willing to spend money for growing the community, it means that the community is important.
The future of marketing (let us not confined this to Web3 and NFTs alone) will be all around the community. We saw this shift happen low-key when Facebook pages lost their importance and Facebook groups started taking prominence. It is a little like a little decentralized community within a centralized platform, right? Today, when there is a possibility for a completely decentralized community to exist and to either build or break a product or a game, it is bound to be more powerful than ever!
Let us take a couple of moments to contemplate the way the world of marketing and brand presence and products changed when social media made its entry. We are looking at a similar juncture now. This time, the community has more power than it has ever had. This would also mean that the community will have more power to popularize and grow your product. If we can create a stunning experience and a stunning product, it is quite possible that you could be the case study for how community engagement and marketing could create success just like how social media did about little over a decade ago.
The author is co-founder and CEO, GuardianLink