Every year, the CMI editorial team asks six to eight questions of the experts speaking at Content Marketing World for this blog series.
Some are easier to answer than others (jargon, anyone?). But this question didn’t fall into the easy category: What should content marketers do about Web3?
Web3 describes a new and unfamiliar world. Is content marketing ready for it? The range of replies offered is as vast as Web3 itself.
Here’s what they suggest.
Don’t get too distracted
Learn, observe, and don’t get too distracted by that yet. Too many marketers get obsessed with the next big thing trying to get on wave early on while neglecting their current focus on the business and marketing strategy they are responsible for today. My advice is: Stay on strategy, focus on execution, and learn about the trends. This knowledge may come in handy in the future. – Igor Bielobradek, digital marketing senior manager, Deloitte
Don’t buy the hype, but learn all you can
Learn everything you can about it, including how it fits into the broader context of Web 1 and Web 2, where the potential opportunities lie, and what its pitfalls could be. Don’t get caught up in the hype, but don’t discount it, either. – Michael Bordieri, senior content solutions consultant, LinkedIn
Get ahead of the learning curve
At a minimum, content marketers should be learning about Web3. What is it? How can it be harnessed? Where does it make sense to engage or experiment? It’s still the early days for Web3, but just like the internet in the 1990s, those curious enough to learn about it profited as it matured. The same principle applies to Web3. – Bernie Borges, vice president global content marketing, iQor
Keep standing out
Don’t get caught up in the hype. Everything evolves. Technology happens. As always, stay informed and vigilant. When it comes to content marketing, there’s only one thing that’s always paramount – stand out. Set the bar higher, make them lean in, zag where others zig. Remember: Communications is an emotional game. If you want to win, you have to move the brand aside and start putting a human out front – not the clip-art version but the warts-and-all version. Warning … some cojones are required. – Kate Bradley Chernis, co-founder and CEO, Lately
Be optimistic and cautious
I think they should be looking for shiny objects and committing tons of budget to them blindly. Oh, no. Maybe that’s the exact opposite of what they should do. I’ve been speaking about blockchain for years to audiences across Europe and the USA. I genuinely think the mindset we all need as content marketers is one of optimistic observation and careful action.
As it’s tempting to go all in with NFTs and creator coins, and we can show you great examples like my friend Mark Schaefer’s RISE coin, the industry is still in early adopter mode. So, brands with big budgets should dip their toes in and have someone on their team watching it weekly and reporting back to the team about what the next course of action is. – Jon Burkhart, founder, TBC Global Limited
Appreciate the win-win opportunities
For marketers, Web3 should be an opportunity to learn and experiment. Web3 marketing is all about building relationships and partnering up so everyone wins. Businesses need to stop thinking of customers as metrics but rather about how to build shared outcomes with customers. It is going to be a shift in mindset as well as technology.
Build a community around your purpose, then align your growth strategy and community incentives for that go-to-market community. I love the way this has been explained in several marketing blogs: Web 1.0 marketing helped customers find something better. Web 2.0 marketing helped customers experience something better. The promise of Web 3.0 marketing is to help customers create something better. As marketers, we need to learn more about the tools to help us get there together. – Jacquie Chakirelis, chief digital strategy officer, Quest Digital/ Great Lakes Publishing
Meg Coffey, managing director, Coffey & Tea
Do nothing now
Most content marketers should do nothing for now. Until Web3 is better defined and taking shape, it is a distraction. – Wendy Covey, CEO and co-founder, TREW Marketing
Evaluate the impact
Content leaders should understand if your business is directly impacted and begin thought leadership campaigns. If the business is not directly impacted, you should aim to understand possible future scenarios that may and begin a content strategy to support it. One example could be how a decline in advertising revenue via traditional ads through all channels would impact your organization. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder, CSO, MarketMuse
Take a breath
Number one: Don’t panic about Web3. You’re not missing out on anything yet. Web3, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and NFTs are all in their gestation phase. That means we know the technology might provide value in the future; we’re just unsure exactly how it will reliably provide value to us as marketers. And that’s OK. Right now, most marketers shouldn’t spend more than 5% of their time, energy, and budget on all the stuff in the Web3 world. It’s good to keep your eye on it but let go of your FOMO. – Andrew Davis, author and keynote speaker, Monumental Shift
Slow your roll
Learning as much as they can from credible sources but not steamrolling into the arena straightaway. There’s enough noise already. You want to become somebody’s favorite. – Chris Ducker, founder, Youpreneur.com
Reward engaged content consumption
[Pay attention to] currency exchanges based on Ethereum smart contracts, where qualified buyers are paid to engage with matched contact. – Justin Ethington, partner, TrendCandy
Think community and privacy compliance
Learn about it. Consider how a more community-based, privacy-compliant web experience will enable them to engage with, build trust, and develop ongoing relationships online. – Mark Emond, president, Demand Spring
Consider how a more community-based, privacy-compliant web experience will enable them to engage with, build trust, and develop ongoing relationships online, says @Mark_DSpring via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Recognize frivolity and proceed with caution
I’m not sold on Web3, crypto, NFTs, or the metaverse. None of them is producing a lasting positive impact on consumers. They don’t significantly change the way consumers buy, think, or act. While I do enjoy 360-degree video experiences on YouTube with my VR headset, the rest of it doesn’t seem to have a significant change in consumer behavior.
Until it does, Web3 is frivolous and reserved for the risk takers and those with disposable time and income. If that’s your audience, then, by all means, pay attention and explore. But for most of us, success there is nothing more than a PR stunt.
The barrier to entry is expensive and prohibitive for consumers. So only wealthier people are even able to participate. My best advice is to pay attention, don’t ignore, but proceed with caution. I just don’t see most of it having lasting meaning until the socio-economic gap is closed. – Jason Falls, senior influence strategist, Cornett
See the similarities
Web3 will have three similarities to Web 1 and 2: brand, trust, and community. Just like the previous iterations, content marketers will need to build a brand following, create trust around the brand, and engage a community of followers. Whether you’re experimenting with NFTs or thinking bigger, some of the basics of traditional marketing still apply.
Now is the time for marketers to start applying artificial intelligence to today’s marketing programs so that you’re ready for tomorrow’s Web3 projects. Also, watch the mistakes and challenges of the brands already in the Web3 world – learn from what the bigger players are doing. – Penny Gralewski, senior director, product and portfolio marketing, DataRobot
Immerse in knowledge-building
Start by reading everything you can about Web3 and join a community like the one Joe Pulizzi is building with his Tilt community. Then, pick one new area you want to explore and start there. Just as you can’t try to be amazing across every new social media platform, you shouldn’t try to do all the Web3 things at once, either. – Erika Heald, founder, lead consultant, Erika Heald Marketing Consulting
Start a conversation
Exploratory. Talk about how it could affect your customers. Your company. Employees. So much of it is new. – Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping it Human
Study the blockchain
At the minimum, content marketers need to learn about Web3. Even if you don’t understand NFTs and are disillusioned by the idea of overpriced JPGs, the blockchain technology that powers Web3 is going to change the way we connect with audiences, build communities, and use our content. The opportunities in Web3 are just beginning to be discovered. Start learning about different blockchain applications and pay attention to the implementations that work. Web3 will revolutionize content marketing. – Brian Piper, director of content strategy and assessment, University of Rochester
Gain first-hand experience
Content marketers should be experimenting with Web3. Get involved in some token communities. Create a digital wallet. Buy an inexpensive NFT or two. Web3 is about community ownership. That comes with a lot of responsibility, but it’s difficult to see what’s possible if you don’t know how the basics work. – Joe Pulizzi, founder, The Tilt
Consider B2C and B2B possibilities
In the near term, I think Web3 is more applicable to B2C businesses than B2B. The loyalty programs that are a hallmark of B2C businesses have interesting analogies in the Web3 world. For both B2C and B2B, it’s important to understand what Web3 is. Observe the use cases that exist and understand the business results. For B2C, it might be time to experiment with a small initiative. For B2B, it’s best to sit back and continue watching but be ready to take action when the time is right. – Dennis Shiao, founder, Attention Retention
Remember the humanity
I understand the power and intrigue of Web3. I was there when Web 2.0 was launched, and the whole idea of web interactivity was a cool new thing. And now, the idea of decentralization, token-based economy, the division of power, etc., is fascinating.
But as far as content marketing? I think we should continue to focus on the human, especially with the crazy developments in AI and AR. I hope H2H – human-to-human interaction – will never be considered old school. As our world becomes more and more technology-centric, the human connection is going to be even more important. – Viveka von Rosen, chief visibility officer, Vengreso
Research before you speak of it
Learn more about it before talking/writing about it. Web3, while not complicated, is somewhat new, and the uses are not yet defined clearly, at least as far as my mind space goes. I have kept quiet so I do not sound … umm … dumb. – Michael Weiss, vice president of consulting services and solutions, Creative Circle
Sit back and learn
Just like the transition from Web 1 to Web 2, this next phase will be years in the making, and it’s still too early to really know where this is all going. Like most new technology, there’s a process and a period of adjustment. We are still really early in it for Web3. So, for now, I’d say don’t panic. Sit back, listen, and learn. – Inbar Yagur, vice president of marketing, GrowthSpace
Let the audience lead
Stay focused on your audience and your potential customer. Understanding their needs and actions will tell you if you should be involved in Web3, TikTok, or anything else. – Andy Crestodina, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Orbit Media Studios
Andy makes a great point about Web3 strategy. No matter how technology and channels evolve, content marketers should always keep their eye on the audience.
What are you planning to do about Web3 (if anything)? Let us know in the comments.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute