Surely if you spend any time online, you’ve heard of Web 3.0 – it’s the latest and greatest version of the World Wide Web. Web 3.0 is the natural progression from what was once Web 2.0, and before that, Web 1.0. Web 1.0 was the internet at its very beginnings, with most users being consumers and having limited marketing capabilities. Web 2.0 is the internet we’re all most familiar with; it gave rise to the creator economy, direct-to-consumer brands, advanced customer communication tactics through social media, and the unprecedented amount of data it produces.
You might be wondering, where do we go from here? The internet has already jumped leaps and bounds from where it was a mere decade ago. The focus of Web 3.0 shifts to decentralization of data; before, private companies held all of this information, but in this new age, individuals have more control over what data they are sharing and who they are sharing it with. With this comes the rapid adoption of blockchain, a peer-to-peer network that allows data to be securely stored and shared across all users. As more and more systems adopt blockchain technology, users can own their data. This means that we as marketers will have to become more transparent about our data usage practices. We will also have to shift our focus towards building authentic relationships with our customer base to generate meaningful leads.
As transparency surrounding data usage becomes more commonplace, community management will increasingly be a non-negotiable aspect of most marketing strategies. Since consumers are gaining more control over their data and who it is shared with, marketers will have to connect directly with their target audience and become a part of their community to gain insights that will drive their marketing efforts. Web 3.0 is eliminating the middleman (that being data) and putting control back in the marketer’s hands. Having a team member dedicated to community management will be crucial to you and your client’s success on social media to ensure that your audience is consistently engaged and feeling represented by your brand.
Taking this one step further, it is critical to consider how you give back to your community. Gone are the days when simply generating a lead was enough – you want to assemble the winning formula that’ll keep them coming back to you time after time. Consider how you might create a loyalty program that aligns with your brand today. An online fashion boutique might offer a discount code for your next purchase, and a dog toy retailer may include a free treat with your order. There’s nothing wrong with such tactics. They've worked well within the confines of Web 2.0, but Web 3.0 emphasizes mutual benefit for every member of a community. A discount code or gift with purchase still requires the customer to make a purchase with your company but does not necessarily benefit them in the same regard.
Companies like Meta have toyed with incorporating social tokens into their platforms. A social token is a digital currency that holds real monetary value and can be given to members of a community as a reward for their engagement. Soon, brands may be able to reward their followers with such tokens for interacting with their posts or making purchases with them, assigning value to each token such as a stake in the company, cash rewards, or a balance redeemable for an order. These may exist within a customer’s social accounts, or even be distributed as an non-fungible token (NFT) that becomes encrypted in the blockchain. This tactic produces an increased incentive for audiences to interact with the brands and products that they like because they know that they will be getting something out of it – the relationship between customer and company becomes symbiotic.
Web 3.0 is also impacting the influencer marketing landscape. Over the last year or so, we’ve witnessed the rise of the ‘nano’ and ‘micro’ influencer, somebody with a following of less than 10k or 100k followers, respectively. Influencer marketing does not work in the way it once did, serving as a way for brands to showcase ‘real people’ organically interacting with their products. Many individuals now see influencer marketing as a full-time career path, but this has resulted in a divide among audiences. As large influencers have risen to celebrity status and accepted million-dollar brand deals or thousands of dollars for a single Instagram post, they’ve become increasingly more out of touch with their audiences; thus, their communities are less likely to be ‘influenced’ by their content. This is where ‘nano’ and ‘micro’ influencers come in – these people do not have a massive following, but they’ve managed to garner incredibly close-knit, responsive communities within their profiles, making their small but mighty followings even more potent than those of larger creators. The appeal to these creators lies in the fact that most of them are not going out of their way to make influencing their full-time job; in fact, most of these creators hold traditional jobs and even make content about their careers. With a stronger focus on community in Web 3.0, it is evident that we will continue to see a decentralization of the influencer industry as many smaller creators assume the place of a select few macro-influencers.
The transition to Web 3.0 is bound to present its challenges. For many, the terminology surrounding Web 3.0 is daunting and complex, and it will take time before terms like “social token,” “blockchain,” or “NFT” are as commonplace as “like,” “follow,” or “comment.” As marketers it is essential for us to be aware of the ever-evolving digital landscape and prepare our future strategies accordingly, or get lost in the dust with Web 2.0.