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Do You Need to Pay Attention to Web 3.0? (Cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the Metaverse…oh my!) – Rich Brooks
Blockcahin Agent

You may have noticed that social media and digital marketing experts are spending a lot of time talking about Web 3.0 these days…blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the metaverse. You may be asking: what does this have to do with my business, my marketing? Well, we try and get some answers to your questions in this week’s Agents of Change podcast, and whether you need to hang out a shingle in the metaverse.

I’m back!

I know I’ve been MIA the past couple of weeks. What have you been listening to in the meantime? Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing Podcast? Brainfluence by Roger Dooley? You Are the Brand by Mike Kim?

I actually was polishing off another Jack Reacher audiobook and listening to The Sandman Vol. II with my girlfriend as we had a couple of trips; first a vacation to Canada, then a business trip to Lima, OH.

Those trips are no excuse on why I haven’t had a podcast for the past couple of weeks. Incredibly, I went from being 10 weeks ahead and apologizing to guests for the long wait for their shows to air to having nothing in the can as I started to spend less time in the office and behind the mic.

The good news is that through my recent trip I met or reunited with a bunch of incredible people who do different things in the realm of digital marketing. In the coming weeks we’ll have some familiar faces–or voices–as well as a lot of people and topics we haven’t covered here on the show.

Which is what I want to talk to you about today. Web 3.0. It’s weird to hear people bandy about the term Web 3.0 because I swear people were calling something else Web 3.0 several years ago. I guess we’re retconning that and pretending it never happened, otherwise we’d be talking about Web 4.0.

Anyway, Web 3.0 was a big part of the conversation of Social Media Week Lima, with several presentations dedicated to topics that fall under this umbrella.

I also received a survey from Social Media Examiner recently about what topics they should be focusing on, and they almost all fell under the Web 3.0 umbrella. Crypto, NFTs,  VR, AR, the Metaverse. I also know that Michael Stelzner has a Crypto Business Podcast and is launching a Crypto Business Conference in October. I’ll have links to both of those in the show notes.

When I first saw the Web 3.0 heavy content coming out of Lima, I was surprised. What does the metaverse, crypto, and NFTs have to do with social media marketing? Is Web 3.0 and all it encompasses the next big thing or something you can safely ignore?

Before we get to that, maybe we should try and answer the question: So, what is 3.0?

Well, the top result on Google is from TechTarget: Web 3.0 (Web3) is the third generation of the evolution of web technologies. The web, also known as the World Wide Web, is the foundational layer for how the internet is used, providing website and application services.

It further lists a few key components of Web 3.0: decentralized, blockchain-based, cryptocurrency enabled, and autonomous and Artificially intelligent. It lists a number of web 3.0 applications, too, including NFTs, DeFi (decentralized finance), dApp (decentralized apps), cryptocurrency, cross-chain bridges, and DAOs which are decentralized autonomous organizations, and honestly I can’t wrap my head around this.

The 2nd result is from Wikipedia: Web 3 (also known as Web 3.0[1][2][3] and sometimes stylized as web3)[4] is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web based on blockchain technology, which incorporates concepts such as decentralization and token-based economics.[5] Some technologists and journalists have contrasted it with Web 2.0, wherein they say data and content are centralized in a small group of companies sometimes referred to as “Big Tech”.[6] The term “Web3” was coined in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, and the idea gained interest in 2021 from cryptocurrency enthusiasts, large technology companies, and venture capital firms.[6][7]

It goes on to say: Some experts argue that Web3 will provide increased data security, scalability, and privacy for users and combat the influence of large technology companies.[8] Others have raised concerns about a decentralized web, citing the potential for low moderation and the proliferation of harmful content,[9] the centralization of wealth to a small group of investors and individuals,[10] or a loss of privacy due to more expansive data collection.[11] Others, such as Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey, have argued that Web3 only serves as a buzzword.[12][5][13]

Not sure if you understand more or less than you did before, but there you go.

What’s interesting is that there’s only one passing reference to the metaverse in the TechTarget article, and no mention of it in the Wikipedia article. Neither article mentioned VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality.) And neither mentioned XR, which is Extended Reality, and umbrella term for VR, AR, and MR, which is mixed reality, or a blend of AR and VR.

Confused yet?

So, whether you want to include the metaverse and XR in your discussion of Web 3.0 is entirely up to you.

Let’s get back to the important question here: if you’re running a doggy day care, or you’re a CPA, or you sell shower replacement kits, do you really need to care about any of this stuff? (Assuming you’re not naturally interested.) In other words: will this impact your business?

Well, I remember years ago being at Blogworld when it was held in New York. At a networking party one evening I met a woman who was speaking the next day on YouTube. I couldn’t imagine why. This was back in 2012, and I knew it was a place to post and watch videos, but I couldn’t imagine how it would be a tool to market your business. Still, because she had seemed excited to be talking about YouTube I decided to check it out.

As you probably guessed, I was transformed. Once she started talking about how she and her clients were using YouTube, how they were building an audience and driving qualified traffic back to their websites, everything clicked for me. It all made sense, and when I got back home I started making YouTube videos and started driving a lot of traffic to our site.

In fact, I ended up making some Google Analytics videos, and Google reached out to me to ask if they could feature them in their blog. (I know, crazy, right? But they did!) I had asked if they would link to my site, but they opted to just link to or embed the videos into their official blog.

Unfortunately, I was still a noob at YouTube so I had no idea how to take advantage of this. I didn’t even notice that our subscribers blew up after that. It was only a couple of years later that I looked at it and did a complete face palm, because I had kind of dropped my YouTube obsession. Talk about a missed opportunity.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s often worth paying attention to some of the early adopters to see how they’re leveraging a platform if you don’t have the bandwidth yourself to jump in.

Of course, most early adopters have an incentive to get other people excited about a topic. It gives them the opportunity to be an expert in the topic, ahead of everyone else. The more you promote it, the more you attract the attention of others, and your star rises with the platform. When Google Plus launched I raced to create a series of how-to videos on youtube. Chris Brogan wrote a book. Neither of us got famous off of it. I guess we picked the wrong platform.

It gets even crazier with NFTs and cryptocurrency because besides the expert angle, there’s money to be made. If you buy a bunch of NFTs or invest in crypto, and then are out there promoting how awesome these things are, it drives up the price, making you money if you sell. Money can do crazy things to people, and that’s why I’ve pretty much sat on the sidelines of crypto and NFTs…so far.

I actually believe in crypto; the idea that the future of money is digital is a huge no-brainer. Of course it is. But I just don’t know if I’m sold that THIS iteration of crypto is the one everyone should be betting on. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t be. Dont’ trust me, I didn’t see the potential of YouTube either.

Yeah, so back to whether you need to be paying attention to this web 3.0 stuff for your business…

I actually heard some compelling arguments for NFTs at the conference. My new friend, Jordache Johnson, told me about a video game that was coming out with unique playable characters. The game is free, but you buy the characters as NFT to play the game. As you level up in the game, your character ostensibly becomes more valuable should you choose to sell it.

Oh, and here’s an interesting thing about NFTs: when they are resold, the original creator gets 10% of the sale price. That’s true for EVERY resale after the fact. So if they sell the original character for $10, they pocket $10. The player–the one who purchased it–builds up the character and is able to sell it for $100. The game creator pockets another $10. The 2nd player builds the character further and sells it for $1,000. The game creator gets another $100.

Now, of course, this means that people still are playing the game, and therefore this character has value to the market. But here’s where I think it gets interesting: there is now a built in incentive for the game creator to keep improving the game, keep adding new levels and new worlds. To perhaps add new events, such as a live concert from Travis Scott, Lil Nas X, or Twenty One Pilots, that only players can access. Sound crazy? Well all three of those bands have performed in the metaverse, raking in MILLIONS of dollars.

In other words, this NFT model not only is a new way to fund games for game creators, but it also offers a built in incentive to keep the game updated and valuable.

Is there a similar model for your business? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe XR will be like 3D movies; they get hot for a few years, then everyone realized how terrible they are, and we go back to 2D movies, until the next “revolution” of 3D movies, and the cycle continues.

Or, maybe it will be like colorized movies, where once audiences see color they can’t really go back to black and white, except in rare cases like Raging Bull or The Lighthouse.

Here’s what I feel confident about: the future of money is digital. Now, it may be Bitcoin and Ethereum, or those might be the Alta Vistas of the future…front runners that are only remembered in the fact they didn’t survive. (BTW, if you don’t remember Alta Vista, it was like the first popular search engine, coming out years before Google.)

Also, there will be more XR or metaverse experiences and opportunities. It likely won’t look like what it does now, but the pull of an immersive experience is undeniable. After SMWL I ended up purchasing an Oculus. My daughter and her boyfriend were over last night, only the second night I had it, and I didn’t even get a chance to put it on. They were too busy playing Sam and Max and Resident Evil 4. One would play while the other would watch the experience on my iPhone through the Oculus app.

NFTs may sound stupid–honestly, the did for me and I still think they’re way overhyped–but the idea of a system that continues to reward artists based on the popularity of their creations is intriguing. And if businesses can tie NFTs into real world products as proof of ownership or membership, that could add a lot of value to your products and services.

In short, while it likely won’t look exactly like it does today, Web 3.0 is coming. It will likely have some impact on your business and your marketing. You can wait until it’s a little more stable or decide to ignore it entirely. Or, you can start listening to some of the people who are in that world right now, and start to see if there are new opportunities for your business. Maybe it’s early adoption to Web 3.0 that helps you stand out and become remarkable.

For me, I haven’t bought any NFTs yet, but I have been gifted a few. I’m still trying to figure out the digital wallet piece of it all. I am planning on taking some savings that I’m willing to risk and buy some cryptocurrency…especially now while the market’s down. I bought a Oculus, and I hear that Apple might be working on a headset of their own.

The name of this podcast is the Agents of Change…it’s more than just digital marketing, it’s about how you’re going to connect with your audience today, tomorrow, and into the future. You figured out social media and search engine optimization, and email marketing so you could reach and engage your audience on Facebook, through Google, and in their inbox.

Is the metaverse really so different?

BTW, NFTs of our 3 agents of change are likely NOT going to be available any time soon…but you never know.

See you in the metaverse.

Show Notes: 

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.