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A Community-First Approach Is Key to Successful Web3 Marketing. Here's Why. This article explores the differences between Web2 and Web3 marketing, what techniques work and what do not for NFT projects.

By Masha Vyazemskaya Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We are now witnessing the very early days of so-called Web3, a new generation of internet that is currently represented by an ecosystem of cutting-edge NFT and DeFi projects. As it grows, countless teams are striving to define their target audiences and the best ways to target them. And the task is not that easy.

Today, we are constantly exposed to marketing efforts: Every street we walk, every train we ride, every website we visit, we inevitably face companies selling us their products and services. The saturation is high, and the fatigue is real.

Web3 enters the stage with a promise of a decentralized, fair, trust-based world, where communities — not businesses — take the center stage. Can one expect the same marketing techniques to work if what is offered is so different? In fact, thousands of marketers from "traditional" tech who enter the Web3 space quickly realize that their regular sets of tools and techniques simply don't work. In this article, we will take a look at what works for NFT and other Web3 projects, and what doesn't.

Related: Web 3.0 Is Coming, and Here's What That Really Means for You

What are we even marketing?

The main promise of the blockchain technology, and NFTs in particular, revolves around direct, unmediated ownership. In this context, what you market is a particular asset that your future buyer can own and enjoy. Sounds pretty straightforward. I would argue, however, that it's exactly where the common misconception lies, and that's why we have seen so many unsuccessful attempts to enter the NFT space from "traditional" players.

The value of an NFT lies not in scarcity of a specific JPEG, but in access to a community. In the increasingly digital world, people feel the calling to be associated with a wider group that shares their ideals, their goals and aesthetics. Some of the top-rated NFT collections, like World of Women and Proof Collective, prove just that, by offering an exclusive membership club-like feel for their owners.

In that sense, the main promise of NFTs is belonging, rather than ownership. And that is why the marketing approach is radically different from traditional products.

So, when it comes to NFT projects, it's the belonging to the community that's being marketed. A product itself and its benefits come secondary. How do you define a great Web3 community? It's a group of like-minded individuals, vocally advocating for the project in the public channels and actively recruiting new community members. In that regard, the goal of Web3 marketing becomes to empower these communities and help them organically grow.

Related: 3 Types of Content that Creators Can Use to Market Their NFT Projects

What works in web3 marketing — best practices

The best-performing Web3 marketing comes as a combination of organic social strategy, community management and guerrilla marketing. If I was to define the rule of thumb, it would be "organic first." Below are some of the best practices that have proven to be efficient.

Focus on providing value:

A good question to ask when planning marketing for an NFT project is "What value do I bring to the table?" Typically, people would rarely engage with a project in early stages unless they are REALLY excited about the concept, or they see a very concrete benefit for themselves in it.

Offering tangible value for NFT holders is a crucial thing to maintain healthy interest and engagement on every growth cycle. It can take shape as access to valuable information, opportunity to vote on funds allocation from community treasury, events and merch for holders, and much more. People want to feel like they belong, to feel heard and be able to make a difference.

Hype it up, but not too much:

Recruiting early supporters in exchange for specific perks, free mints, access to allow lists, and so on, has proven to be very efficient at early stages. But it's crucial not to rely solely on giveaways and similar tactics to avoid superficiality. If hype and promise of fast gain is the only thing that attracts your audience, it will not last.

Focus on retaining active community members:

In Web3, NFTs are people's digital identities. An active community member showcasing their identity associated with your project is your best salesperson. Because of that, the impact of losing an active community member in Web3 is way more significant than in Web2.

It is extremely important to identify and nurture those active community members on every stage of the project. Establishing personal contact with them and finding ways to regularly incentivize them is crucial, as they are the most efficient gateway to the wide community.

Related: How to Build a Strong NFT Community

What does not work in Web3 marketing

Not knowing your target audience:

Surprisingly enough, the common question that many new entrants into Web3 fail to answer is "Who is your target audience?" A lot of teams entering the NFT space seem to target "the NFT community" or "crypto holders." It understandably feels like an attractive generic group with some money to spend, but at this stage, the market has already matured and become really diverse. It's no longer one-size-fits-all, if it ever was. Going to market with a very clear understanding of your future community members' portrait and their incentives is crucial.

Focusing on paid marketing:

When people say that traditional marketing does not work in Web3, they usually mean that paid techniques are typically not efficient. Web3 audiences are very sensitive about becoming a target for a "cash grab," so when they feel something is actively sold to them, it can get ugly.

If an influencer is being paid to "shill" an NFT project, the potential negative feedback from the audience is way worse than in the case of traditional product placements. Even if advertising succeeds in directing the traffic to the project's website and social media, if the audience does not see organic community and active engagement, it will go to waste.

Experimenting is key

Web3 is still in its early days, which means that there is no playbook for success. The best performing NFT projects always bring something new to the table in terms of brand offerings and marketing techniques. And this is exactly what makes this space so fresh and exciting — an opportunity to experiment!

Communities in Web3 are already becoming diverse and radically different from each other. Working closely with your community, incentivizing them and giving them a voice is key to Web3 marketing.

There is a long road ahead of us, but I firmly believe that a community-first approach can make marketing much healthier and more sustainable in Web3. So many tools and practices are yet to be discovered, which makes it the best space for innovation. Let's use it wisely!

Masha Vyazemskaya

VP of Communications at Rarible

Masha is a Head of Communications at Rarible, a leading NFT protocol and marketplace with over $300 million in sales volume. Co-founder at It Takes Two PR studio and consultancy for web3 startups with her twin sister Xenia Vyazemskaya.

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