Get All Access for $5/mo

Most Web3 Marketing is Fake. Here's Why. If you were around during the NFT bull run like me, you certainly felt intrigued at how "pictures of animals" were being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

By Rafael Guerreiro Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Around October 2021, my attention got caught by what was happening in the NFT space. If you were there, you certainly felt intrigued at how "pictures of animals" were being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While my first gut reaction was skepticism at the general sentiment, my curiosity propelled me to learn more. As I dug more into it, all the signs of an unhealthy and unsustainable market were there: the frenetic FOMO, greed, toxic positivity, scarcity and fake urgency.

If you experienced being a part of the NFT space during this time, I'm sure you recognized these patterns on many of these projects' Discord, Twitter and Telegram communities. Behind many early "degen" projects were greedy marketers taking advantage of the speculative market sentiment and profiting huge sums by spreading narratives of incredible returns and making empty promises of utility in the forms of "roadmaps."

But as I struggled to find the value in expensive apes, lions, monkeys and giraffes, I couldn't help but notice the incredible technology (NFTs) at the foundation of all of this. Many entrepreneurs were innovating and pioneering this exciting tech that opens so many doors to real-life use cases for blockchain. As soon as I realized this, I knew I had to be a part of it.

Related: Here's a Beginner's Guide to Crypto, NFTs, and the Metaverse

The potential of NFTs and Web3 to disrupt the status quo of so many industries, norms and social structures really caught my attention as an entrepreneur and rebel at heart.

And so I decided I wanted to dip my toes into this new ecosystem, and I went after what would be my agency's first client — a P2E NFT game — a use case for NFTs that fascinated me as people could openly and securely transact in-game assets between each other, creating entire digital economies inside of these games.

It took me weeks of writing free reports, campaign suggestions and telegram stalking until I got the CEO's attention. After many conversations, I finally signed the contract and agreed to get paid half in tokens (please, don't ever do this). I started by focusing on fixing the many positioning, messaging and communication flaws in the game's existing strategy.

My goal was to identify its core attributes and "sexy traits," understand the potential audiences and finally identify the narratives and channels we could leverage for the game's launch, which took place in just six weeks.

The CEO hated that I spent my time and resources focusing on these "frivolous" tasks that — according to him — had no impact on the overall campaign. His attention seemed to be entirely on getting as many influencers, Twitter followers, WAGMI's and discord members as possible. After all, that's what he was paying me for (read the irony).

That was a red flag, but I needed the case study. So I got him the vanity metrics he was desperate for and kept doing the important work in the background without making it so evident. The launch went well, but I retired their account as soon as it was over.

Many web projects in Web3 fail to understand that marketing in this new industry is not as special or different as they might think. The number of well-intentioned (and not-so-well-intentioned) projects that died as fast as they came up during the bull run was overwhelmingly shocking.

The main reason behind this was that many marketers, most without any previous "real-world" experience, believed that the industry's standards of short-term, manipulative and amateurish marketing tactics were the way to succeed in this space. Too many projects thrived in toxic environments where narratives of greed, future earnings, buzzwords, exaggerated roadmaps and artificially positive communities led to massive and explosive growth.

Vanity numbers and manipulation tactics helped these projects to sell out and thrive momentarily during the NFT bull run. Still, as soon as their members found the next big thing — projects quickly became irrelevant. If a project didn't sell out in 3.5 seconds, their own communities would start spreading FUD, and the valuations of their recently bought NFTs would drastically plummet. Many people entered the NFT space and quickly got burned or scammed. These toxic and short-sighted market dynamics surely left a bad reputation and delayed the progress of the NFT space as a whole.

Related: The First-Ever Tweet in NFT Format Sold for $2.9 Million in March 2021. The Most Recent Bid Is $132.

So, Web3 Founders and enthusiasts, let's create the next bull run based on healthy narratives, highlighting our project's benefits and value, building trust, credibility, and transparency through our marketing. Let's focus on deploying strategies and campaigns that create and sustain healthy and thriving communities regardless of market conditions. Let's create communities that are genuinely passionate about our products, solutions and the value we're creating for the world.

We do this by playing the long-term game. By doing the right things over time, building products and solutions that people really need. By leaving the toxic hype behind as a lesson.

Once we get there as an industry, we will be able to attract and convince the masses instead of repelling them. We will attract the professionals, customers and investors we need to build and sustain the growth and adoption of Web3 projects for years to come.

We can genuinely accelerate the implementation of new and innovative business models built on transparency, ownership and decentralization toward the future of this new web. But for that, we need to come together and acknowledge our past mistakes. And to be clear on our path moving forward. And communications and marketing — how we present ourselves to the world and create our communities — is one of the first steps we need to reflect on and ensure we do it right next time.

Rafael Guerreiro

CEO of New Sequence

Rafael is an entrepreneur, storytelling marketing, and PR specialist. He recently founded New Sequence, a Web3 marketing agency with the goal of accelerating real-world value blockchain projects toward mass impact and adoption.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.