Our latest research report delves into The Future of Social, unveiling four defining themes shaping this ever-evolving landscape. This article explores the fourth and final theme, "The Web3 Frontier" and its implications for brands in the present.
“Web3 social represents a rejection of the broken promises of Web2 social media platforms, which were supposed to democratize access to storytelling and put power into the hands of everyday users.”
Web3’s “future of the internet” might seem like hype after some less-than-promising headlines. The metaverse is struggling with low usage of VR headsets among teens and major companies like Tencent, Disney, Microsoft, and even Meta are scaling back their metaverse divisions. The crypto market's $1.4 trillion loss last year and the lack of confidence in cryptocurrencies' reliability among 75% of Americans add to this uncertainty. Yet, potential threats like the proposed TikTok ban in the US and Elon’s tragic Twitter to ‘X’ migration highlight not just the significance of Web3 social but its necessity.
Web3 distinguishes itself from Web2 in key ways. Decentralization spreads data and technology ownership from a single, central entity to individuals, blockchain-powered data privacy gives users greater control over their information, and non-custodial portability enables easy data and interaction transfer between Web3 platforms.
While Web2 social platforms falter, the rise of community-driven networks hints at Web3's transformative potential in reshaping online interactions. This decentralized landscape offers a path to greater control over data, privacy, and online engagement. However, realizing this promise depends on the successful transition and maturation of Web3 technologies, which might mirror the early days of the Internet with platform fluctuations, early adopter benefits, and gradual mainstream adoption.
IMPLICATIONS + HOW TO TAKE ACTION
While Web3 technologies continue to evolve within a framework of building infrastructure and regulations, their impact on our social media landscape remains to be seen. Following Mastodon's success, platforms such as Tumblr, Flickr, and Meta’s Threads are integrating with the decentralized social networking protocol, ActivityPub. Startups are also vying to be the Web3 versions of existing platforms, with their fate hinging on building a critical user network. In this early stage, Web3, for brands, offers complicated but exciting new possibilities.
- Start to Learn to Let Go: Decentralized “ownership” can be frightening for brands who work tirelessly to protect their IP. Start by examining your IP to see what assets you can put into the hands of superfans and loyalists to co-create with you. Your brand equity and creativity could soar to incredible new heights.
- Watch the Creator Space: Creators have much to gain from Web3’s decentralized model, where blockchain technology can facilitate and protect their ability to monetize their content and community, free from the constraints of a single platform. They will be the first, so learn from the spaces and platforms that are courting them.
- Get Your Hands Dirty: This is the new, uncharted frontier of the Internet. There are no right or wrong answers. The winners will be those who jump in with curiosity and wild abandon. Download a wallet, mint an NFT, join a Discord community and start to experiment and explore.
For more on “The Web3 Frontier” and the other seismic shifts transforming The Future of Social, download the full report.