fbpixel SXSW 2023: How to build community in Web 3.0. - MG Empower
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Written by - Joe McElligott

SXSW 2023: How to build community in Web 3.0.


The marketing world’s shift away from mass media to personalisation marks the beginning of a new era – one where community leads the way. As brands begin to navigate this new ‘community economy’ we’re seeing and foreseeing many challenges in making it work i.e., building a strong community.

Recently, at SXSW 2023, our president and founder Maira Genovese took to the stage to talk about the new intersections between Web 3.0, cultural credibility and storytelling. So I’m writing this blog to keep that ball rolling (what can I say, she’s an inspiration). Because there’s so much truth in the fact that it’s not so much about brands creating stories anymore, as much as it’s about brands co-creating stories. 

Building community is key to co-creation, brand storytelling and cultural relevance. So how can we build – and nurture – community in this complex, multichannel era? 

Don’t build community just in Web 3.0

People often talk of building bridges and consistency of experience and brand across channels, and across physical digital gaps. Having heard multiple theories and seen multiple frameworks across our time at SXSW, we think there is a better way to look at it that will help foolproof community building. So we’ve built a simple, easy-to-use framework that can help guide brands to build communities in a multichannel era.

Brands should look to build community not by engaging customers in Web 3.0, but by providing the platform for customers to engage with other customers on Web 3.0. It’s not brand to consumer. Its brand to consumer to consumer and back to brand.

In other words, use Web 3.0 as the platform to enable customer-to-customer relationships, not just customer-brand relations. Brands today don’t have the capacity to be everywhere all at once. And answering and responding IRT (in real-time) doesn’t even always deliver the ROI you’d hope for.

So instead, brands should focus on building a space for their customers to do the talking, not themselves. 

Communities are built from shared values

People connect with people because of a belief, shared morality, viewpoint, or lifestyle. So we must make sure that brands identify that ‘shared value’. What is it that brings them together and makes them feel connected? Is it design (Apple)? Is it creativity (Soho House)? Is it diversity (Tropicals)?

Whatever it is, make it simple enough to get on board with but unique enough to differentiate against something. It’s a tricky balance. But get it right and the community you’re engaging will reward you.

Once you’ve defined shared values we can build the platform for interaction on Web 3.0. Web 3.0 is a tricky beast, a multifaceted jungle of unknowns, false promises and empty echo chambers.

Choosing the ‘correct’ version of Web 3.0 is the next challenge

Really, Web 3.0 is just the next internet. It will be the same as the last internet, just with ownership, provenance and data capture more obvious and validated (here’s hoping this is the simplest definition of Web 3.0 you’ve seen for a while). In that sense, we will still have many of the same functionalities as our existing internet. 

We believe there are four main ways brands can help get their communities to start talking on Web 3.0:

Social media. Yes, it’s not going anywhere. We likely won’t even have to adapt our strategies too much – its Web 3.0 iteration will simply have fewer trolls and keyboard warriors (that’s me being an optimist). 

Memberships. As with any good community, Web 3.0 is gatekept. That means it’s confined to a physical or digital location. This can be as simple as a mailing list. But DON’T make it a mailing list. Make it an entry into your brand’s world, an exclusive space that feels like you’re part of something.

Experiences. VR, AR, immersive experiences – these are often gamified, the perfect avenue to entice and encourage interaction on Web 3.0. 

Content creation. Ultimately people still want to ‘consume’ with little or no action needed. We need to give them that content, but also give a reason within that content to start a conversation. Brands should also elevate the best of their community’s content and make sure it is prioritised and featured regularly in the right spaces.

The beauty of all four of these methods is that they can and SHOULD BE co-created. Today, it’s just not enough to give consumers content. We should be asking for consumers’ help in giving others that content. Know what I mean?

Web 3.0 will require a shift of focus

… Which brings me back to my first point: The trick to building community is to provide the tools, platforms, and content for customers to go and start their own conversations. This will organically and inherently build your brand’s community – and therefore cultural relevance, like an after-effect.

If you’d like to know more about how consumers can help co-create these experiences, help define your shared value, and help encourage your consumers to interact with each other, then have a watch of Maira’s session or just reach out to us. We’re always happy to chat.

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