The future of content marketing in web3

Conversations about blockchain and cryptocurrency are becoming more visible — so much so that my parents, nearly 60 years-old, have asked how they can invest in Ethereum. As someone tuned into things like “social listening”, this sort of audience expansion should signal to businesses to seriously prepare for what web3 means for their respective industries.

Web3 has been tricky to define, particularly in a sea of deeply advanced and technical blogs. However, "Wtf is web3" does a great job at laying out the basics. According to the article, web3 solves two core problems:

  • Decentralization of power
  • Ownership of value

The way it does that, Li Jin argues in The Web3 Renaissance, is through four key ways:

  • By introducing digital scarcity and restoring pricing power to creators
  • By making supporting creators an act of investment, not just altruism
  • By introducing new programmable economic models that spread wealth across the creator landscape
  • Most importantly, by creating pathways for creators to own not just the content they produce, but the platforms themselves

For content marketers, this means that web3 could transform content creation and distribution as we know it.


Trendsetter merits + content tokenization

If you've been listening to Chance the Rapper since 2013, before he collaborated with Justin Bieber and became a household name, you may get street cred or bragging rights. But that's it.

What if, in 2014, when you first heard Acid Rap and knew it was going to be big, you invested in Chance the Rapper by buying a token? Social tokens mean that the people get joint ownership and governance rather than a centralized platform, acting as a sort of internal market currency. So, your Chance the Rapper social token could then:

  • provide you with rewards and airdrops
  • act as a crowdfunding platform
  • give you gated access to exclusive content

The token could also be sold later on. You think Chance the Rapper has hit his prime in 2020? Sell that token — or trade it for something else.

For musicians like Chance, it means they’re able to replace a record label and get a bigger cut of their music’s profits by cutting out the middleman and interacting directly with their listeners.

Tweet by @SamtheCobra
Tweet by @SamtheCobra

(Link to tweet)

In the content world, this idea means trendsetters can cash in when they find a valuable idea — or someone with valuable ideas. Like the hipster ideal of "yeah, I've been listening to them before they were cool,” the ability to identify something good early on could actually be worth something. If a piece of content is worthwhile, rather than just subscribing, a reader could buy a token. Or, maybe buy a piece of content with a cool idea as an NFT. Imagine owning Snow Fall — or owning a piece of Snowfall. Financial incentives aside, journalism and design nerds everywhere would geek out about that.

For content marketers, this means that content becomes part of the product more than it was before. If ServiceNow's Workflow makes a prediction about the future of work that readers align with, a reader can buy a Workflow token in hopes the publication will continue making valuable predictions. That reader who buys the token is also incredibly likely to become a customer of ServiceNow. The token purchase becomes the newest step in the user journey for readers.

Subscription benefits

Most publications from newspapers to corporate blogs leverage a subscription model. They ask for email addresses and shuffle readers down a sales funnel in hopes that, after providing enough valuable content, the reader will pay money: for the content itself or for a product/service. This subscription often comes in the form of a newsletter, but can also provide access to gated content.

For some readers, the content in these subscriptions alone can provide value, hence the rise of Substack. But, what if readers and writers got a more serious kickback as a newsletter gained more subscribers? This model would only impact paid subscribers, but could mean that your $15/month subscription to the New York Times now includes perks that are actually financially valuable, too, like a NYT token. This token could be swapped for merch, gated content, or kept in a wallet to sell later on as an investment in the organization.

For corporate content marketers, a paid subscription could keep a content team afloat rather than exist within a greater marketing division. It proves the value of content as directly correlated to sales, customer loyalty, and branding. The more high quality content and ideas, the more paid subscribers, and the more likely they are to become customers, too — especially if they’re already invested in your core ideas.

Bottom-of-funnel exclusives is a new platform aiming to create a beneficial model for musicians. Like OpenSea and other NFT exchanges, makes music a vehicle for investment. So, musicians release songs and albums and get paid by their supporters. Even more, musicians can release exclusive content that only a handful of supporters gain access to.

Users can pay a certain amount to get a song that only 20 other users can listen to and download. From there, they can do whatever they want with it: distribute it themselves or lock it away. It's not that dissimilar from buying a piece of art from your favorite street artist: You have the original art and can share it to social media, display it on your wall, or lock it in a safe, but you spent money on it because, in some way, it provides value.

Imagine: your favorite thought leader, VC, or journalist shares that they wrote a new piece on your favorite topic. But, there are only 500 copies of this piece and each copy is worth $20. Depending on the content, the writer, and the topic, people may not be willing to shell out $20. Yet for the first time in a long time, there are three added elements:

  1. Digital scarcity. You're not downloading the same ebook that a million other professionals have.
  2. Meaningful ownership. If it's valuable — really well-written, meaty, original, thought-provoking, or has the potential to “go viral” — you can distribute it immediately yourself. It'll be less valuable but you could make your $20 back soon. Or, save it for later and sell it when your thought leaders' predictions have become true. Or, just enjoy that it's a good piece of content and worth the $20.
  3. Sharing your data. You don't need to provide your email address in a weird trade-off where you'll then see useless drip campaigns in your inbox. You don't need to share anything other than your $20 that comes from your wallet.

In sum

Cobie’s article points to a few directions web3 can take us: an open and equitable web or the ponzification of everything. While web3 could result in a dystopian future web with “tokenised microtransactions,” I like to believe it will instead open up the door for good ideas to be worth something rather than hidden in corners of the internet, strewn carelessly in email newsletters, and plastered in cookie permissions, paywalls, and banner ads.

For content marketers, web3 will hopefully result in the rise of good content. Organizations will try to make this content, but only original ideas, innovative design, and solid writing will prevail — and be worth the investment to businesses. Content will cement itself squarely in the customer journey as social tokens and other forms of governance help with identifying meaningful ideas and, therefore, strong customer relationships.

View this article on Substack

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