Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
Let’s talk about governance. No, this is not political, but rather how incredible ecosystems, tech platforms, creators and entire industries would look if they empowered their communities.
Community — the word everyone obsesses over when building anything these days. How big is your community? How do your customers interact with each other? How engaged is your community? How important is your community to you? How are you growing your community?
These are all the questions I get as a founder of a social media platform. It’s the No. 1 thing on my mind: the state of our community. Yet, this cliche seems to have lost its power. It seems the community has no real say on big social media platforms. You could say you, as an individual, have no say on the content you absorb. Instead, algorithms control what we see, who we discover, and apparently, the places we go and what we eat for breakfast. Why do they do this? Simple: To sell more ads.
My social feed has been less about me and more about who they want me to be. Imagine a world where people are able to create without barriers, champion what they love and stand up for what they believe — an ecosystem created and maintained by the people.
When I was a kid playing games with my friends outside on my cul de sac, we would make our own sets of rules, vote on the activity and act as a modern-day congressional court. We were between the ages of 6-12, yet we knew exactly how to choose teams, run a profitable lemonade stand with roles and responsibilities and decide the rules for the annual water balloon fight. If that’s possible for a big group of children, why can’t crowds, groups of people and fans come together to build the type of future they want to see?
I firmly believe that community governance is the future. These voices and individuals who we support have so much more to offer — and so do their brand partners. Leaders should encourage members of their communities to share with them the content, offerings and products their customers want. Customer feedback and perspective is an extremely valuable, yet sometimes unvalued, commodity. Shouldn’t customers and users play a part in governing these communities alongside their favorite creators?
If you are a blockchain/cryptocurrency enthusiast (like me) or even a newbie or skeptic, you have probably heard of decentralization: the idea of moving from a centralized system to a decentralized system run by groups of people. I won’t bore you with the technicalities or how powerful I think the concept is, but rather encourage entrepreneurs, creators and brands to tap into the crypto community ethos.
Web2 social media platforms give fans the opportunity to interact with brands and creators, but engagement is fairly simple and lacks substance — a like here, a comment there, maybe a share or a follow. These efforts don’t do much for anyone except the social media platform that can now harvest your data for advertising.
At the moment, it’s clear that we’re in the midst of this Web2 to Web3 shift. So, if we’re in agreement that the shift is happening, how can entrepreneurs, business leaders and creators prepare themselves and their audiences?
Empower Your Fans
Revitalize and incentivize your customers, fans and stakeholders to have a seat at the table. For instance, at my company, Geojam, we are allowing fans and token holders to propose ideas to us and their favorite creators. Whether it’s a new feature in the app or a new marketing initiative, people can submit proposals and other people in the community can use tokens to place their votes. If the creator or we accept the proposal, the users get tokens, other rewards, and get to see their idea come to life.
You don’t have to be a Web3 company to implement an initiative like this. Community is built when people believe in what you believe. Empowering your community to take part in growing your brand will not only save on advertising dollars but will drive your brand loyalty to new heights.
Let’s use an example in the music industry. For instance, artists can ask fans to submit album art for an upcoming single and let their community decide which one is their favorite. Think about how Lay’s lets fans submit the next wild chip flavor and vote on their favorite for the company to then create. Not only does something as simple as this drive social media engagement and turn your followers into a content machine, but gives fans a sense of ownership. When fans and customers feel empowered, they brag to their friends and on their social media, creating the perfect user-generated marketing engine to grow your community.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician, you’re building the next internet or you’re selling coffee. What will you do?
Giving people the power to propose ideas and take part in building your community, platform, content and products aren’t groundbreaking but rather necessary to compete in this generation.
Community governance is more than customer feedback. It’s about giving your fans a voice, allowing them to make decisions to create something people want that is much bigger than one person or company. By enabling this sort of ecosystem, you can build what everyone is looking for: a robust and vibrant community that forms to be heard.