In Web3, Your Brand IS Your Community (and vice-versa)
Brand is community, and community is brand.
Brands are built through Loyalty
The concept of building and developing a modern day brand tends to be muddled in the details with the availability of a wide array of platforms and tools that can help a creator or an organization increase the perceived quality of their products and potentially expand their coverage. Today we’re seeing individuals emerge as entire brands themselves, some even bigger than corporate giants that have been established for decades.
Whether it’s the Web2 platforms that enable monetized content, e-commerce and payments, or the Web3 mantra of ‘tokenizing everything’ and incentivizing users through them, the main takeaway is that while effective, these are simply means to enhance a brand’s value proposition, but will not magically produce organic engagements.
Thanks to the internet, brands today certainly recognize the power of engagements and building strong relationships with their core audience. Some have a much more nuanced understanding that these relationships are no longer just based towards audiences being presented a product and expecting them to consume it, but rather giving them a ‘voice’ and more involvement with the brand to gain their loyalty.
For example, in today’s culture, methods to attain customer loyalty are commonplace across many different industries. Loyalty programs are used to increase retention, lower acquisition costs and serve as a vital aspect of a consumer’s journey well beyond a purchase. For creators, fan club platforms like Patreon have become a popular option, where users are given different tiers of rewards depending on how much they decide to contribute.
While loyalty programs used to reward consumers for spending a set amount of money in a business, they are now used to reward them for specific behaviors instead. This ranges from points for social media shares that expand a brand’s marketing scope to rewards such as free merchandise or online features that bring in new consumers and potentially increase their bottom lines.
The Community is Your Core Product
The key to gaining ‘true’ followers isn’t just about producing excellent material. It’s about creating a community that brings them together based on the same interests, beliefs, and goals. These followers are particularly crucial since they may be your most loyal supporters during critical moments and even during a potential crisis. This symbiotic relationship between fans and their brands boils down to recognizing that in this day and age, one cannot function without the other — or to put it simply, the principle of mutuality.
A core component of any successful community is its ability to provide avenues for its members to come together around a common goal and a shared set of values. Discord is a great example of a platform that has not only allowed members to benefit from the brand, but from themselves as well. From communication tools to multimedia sharing capabilities, this has allowed many communities, both large and small, to flourish over the years.
Brand Involvement Is Key
To put it simply, people like it when their input is given some importance. They like it when they feel valued. This has to be reflected in the community’s shared values yourself if a real connection is to be built. It’s about being able to create a sense of belonging between the brand and its audience, and among them as well.
Online communities, beyond just being a place for discussion, foster meaningful connections with their members, resulting in a sense of camaraderie to help each other grow in the long run, whether it’s through things like moral support or providing opportunities to trusted individuals. This makes it an absolute necessity for anyone seriously looking to build a successful brand. While public communities serve as the first overview of a brand, your private communities allow you to determine what direction you should take as they comprise your most loyal followers.
What Exactly Constitutes Brand Loyalty?
Web3 is moving towards the notion that because things such as currencies, rewards, assets and even governance/rules can be tokenized, this can be implemented in just about any aspect in our daily lives. The world’s biggest brands are taking notice of this and this is manifesting in the form of their entry into different subsectors of the technology — Fashion companies are diving into the Metaverse, Payment networks are exploring DeFi, and Creators are looking at Social Tokens to build their brands on this new paradigm shift.
Creating something that sticks is never easy to do. Brands are looking towards cultivating organic and more personalized relationships with their audiences to drive up engagement, build up a sense of loyalty, and create ways for them to be actively involved in the brand building journey as a major component. Businesses have recognized the power of communities, and creators are only scratching the surface when it comes to this. More and more individuals will come to understand the value of engaging with loyal fans as the focus begins to zoom in on trust, loyalty, and meaningful consumer interactions.
The problem? “Loyalty” is so loosely defined in this day and age. What constitutes a true ‘fan’ and how are they distinguished from ‘followers?’ Most programs are designed to enable a connection between a brand and a potentially profitable customer and provide them with auxiliary benefits, and don’t go beyond that. While they’re intended to increase brand affinity and create a positive experience, it seems that they do not incentivize mutuality and commitment. There is no sense of belonging that is being actively developed, nor a connection to other individuals who share the same passions — both things that humans naturally crave.
Culture plays such an integral role in determining what kind of incentives are effective because brands are catering to people on a global scale, what’s considered appealing may be different from person to person. This is important to consider because conversely, behavior that is reinforced is also what shapes mainstream culture.
Moreover, we tend to put a lot of emphasis on the number of likes or followers an individual has rather than actually identifying which parties really champion the content. Monetization models are platform centric as it stands, so this is understandable. For it to be shifted to individuals, there must be a mechanism in place that allows creators to capitalize on their ‘superfans’ in order to capture value underneath their demand curve.
The challenge is addressing how communities can be cultivated, how the most loyal members can have an active voice in the community, and how creators can align incentives to retain their growth trajectory. This in turn helps them discover new audiences, generate more income, and create truly impactful content for their most valuable community members. The community, in essence, should be the brand itself.
‘Real’ Fans are the Heartbeat of the Community
A real fan is defined as one that will support the brand and consume any of the content and products that they produce. In the context of an artist or musician, these are fans that will drive hundreds of miles away to catch a gig, or purchase merchandise to support the cause and drive up the numbers. Case in point: K-Pop groups have succeeded in creating legions of these super fans. These fans will literally buy multiple copies of the same album just to express their love and support.
In essence, brands are simply a manifestation of the communities that adopt their ways and thinking into their own lifestyles, becoming the brand themselves. The brand is community, and community is brand.
True fans are individuals who are right in the midst of all the action. They are essentially the heartbeat of the community, and will be the ones primarily responsible for generating more value in the long run. Real fans will be enthusiastic about the brand and attract new members to the community. The common misconception that is slowly being rectified today is that having more followers meant having a better community. While comparisons are moot in the bigger picture, it’s worth noting that having 100 real supporters who believe in the brand’s vision and advocacy is much more valuable than thousands who are merely observers. Make no mistakes — the fans that want to support you WILL want to be involved.
Building a brand that’s powered by the community means that members must also have some agency. This does not necessarily mean that everyone has to be putting in the same amount of time or contributing the same efforts towards its growth. In order to create a passionate community and an atmosphere where one can feel that they are doing something bigger than themselves, there must be a balance between inclusion and exclusion. What’s in it for those that do more? What about those that tend to be more reserved in this regard? This means that layers of participation ought to be crafted carefully, with a few key members or ‘true fans’ leading the way, allowing the community to execute on its roadmap, smash goals, and facilitate meaningful connections and experiences.
One of the most important benefits of an online community, aside from generating strong member-driven communication, is the opportunity to empower members to make their own decisions. As either a content creator or an organization, the most crucial factor for your growth is how you scale. Having a community of individuals that are supportive of your goals and have the ability to influence your decisions is what will skyrocket your brand in the long run. User-generated content offers fresh perspectives, professional articles, and answers to commonly asked questions.
Popular content creators, for example, will usually have dedicated subreddit groups that consist of memes, sentiments, and general information that will help paint a picture of these individuals which will better help outsiders decide if they should invest their time in supporting them or not.
Alignment Creates Cohesion for Brands — How Web3 Can Help
It is important to recognize that in today’s highly competitive landscape, designing unique incentives around your ecosystem is the key to building, retaining, and growing your audiences. There is a need to identify who the most valuable members of your community are, and allow them to feel that they matter. Incentives are very much underestimated in this regard, as this aspect drives human behavior and changes perception in various ways. In a crowded space with creators providing similar value, production quality is not the only thing that will help you stand out. It’s essential to be able to build and maintain relationships with supporters so that they could champion your brand, your cause, and your values as a whole.
Once a brand recognizes that technology can help them create a participatory community, they can maximize the usage of tools to their fullest potential. We understand that brands need to thrive with their communities, and that technology is used to attain that more efficiently. Specifically, the goal of BitFans is to enable and facilitate these meaningful experiences within communities through helping them create their own Community DAO, Community Token, and NFT Collection, all of which are simply tools that will help brands recognize who their most loyal followers are and who are willing to go out of their way to support them so that they can reciprocate through various incentives, perks, and benefits offered through utility.
BitFans is a platform that helps creators host highly engaged and enthusiastic audiences through unique experiences. While it uses blockchain as an underlying technology and tokenization as its core concepts, the cornerstone of its application is far simpler than it may seem at first glance. Any individual, business, or brand owner with access to an audience can create a digital token fan club on the platform.
These DAOs are what allows fans to become active and participatory members through interactions with the creators, other members who share the same values, and assisting creators in deciding on various aspects of their brand or content.
Alignment ultimately comes down to incentives. We’ve developed a means for individuals and businesses alike to create digital assets in the form of Community Tokens that are backed by their reputation, their potential for growth, and most importantly, their community. Individuals belonging to these digital fan clubs will take it upon themselves to add value to their networks. Instead of one-way transactions like selling exclusive content and merchandise with the intermediary platforms getting a chunk of the commission, community members could hold on to these tokens and be rewarded for their tenure through perks, access to private channels, ranks, and more.