The CEO of Aptos Labs says the people working on Web3 social media have the power to evolve the social fibers that connect human society.
Twitter is on life support. Instagram is broken. TikTok is tired and aging. BeReal is rapidly becoming less real.
And yet, people still want to connect, share important elements of their lives, and build communities. So, they sign on, post, and engage. But despite creating a majority of the content that fuels these platforms, users get very little in return.
Innovators and developers see this and are eager to build new digital experiences. So, they develop apps and features that push the boundaries of Web2. However, the creative internet persists in a walled garden environment powered by 2010s platforms in a 2023 world. As evidence of this, one of the world’s largest social media companies, Meta, lost about $450 billion of its market cap in 2022. It’s time for companies and entrepreneurs to bring social media to Web3 in a user-centric, decentralized, and inclusive way.
KEEP USERS AT THE CENTER
While the platforms flail, the digital economy flourishes. Creators are looking for opportunities to show bold pursuits, grow audiences, and sell merchandise across platforms. They want to bring swag on to Fortnite and distribute it during a virtual party. They want to livestream on YouTube and Twitch. And, yes, they even want to dance on TikTok.
But as Web2 platforms update and clone features like Stories, there’s a disconnect between the value of sharing content and the feeling of real connections with people—fellow creators, users, and retail partners.
People building and developing Web3 social media applications must prioritize authenticity in every user interaction from the macro, like attending a virtual meetup with fellow community members from every corner of the globe, to the micro, like purchasing an NFT of a gaming avatar to own part of the experience. Failure to build these bridges between diverse communities and use cases will trigger lost interest, revenue, and community-building opportunities.
KEEP IT DECENTRALIZED
The leaders of legacy social media and Big Tech companies increasingly try to lock users into their centralized ecosystem and make it extremely difficult to leave or share anything across platforms. (Though, Apple recently announced some Web3 flexibility for app developers.) This leads to two challenges:
- Users and creators get landlocked and are forced to manage fragmented communities. Prioritizing decentralization and an open social graph prevents the breakdown we’re seeing in the social media platform of the Web2 era. Today, instead of spending precious time building, creators are burdened with becoming copy-paste experts across different platforms with varied infrastructure. Web3 social platform builders should consider delivering an open social graph that can solve this monumental issue for users and communities looking to connect rather than divide. Further, progress in this area would make it easy to bridge platforms and own digital experiences as well as share social capital.
- Control sits with monolithic entities that can’t evolve with their users’ needs and their protections. In Q2 2022, 11 million European Monthly Active Users left Meta with comfort that their data also left the platform due to regulators’ assurances (GDPR’s Article 17). But what could have happened if users owned these platforms in the first place? And were able to manage provisions through better governance models? Fundamentally, people building Web3 social platforms construct such a world—one where users have a voice and stake in governance from the start, and with the individualized power to evolve the platform as their needs change. Elon ambitioned to do this but, unfortunately, the blue check mark creates a world where only paying members can have governance rights—making it a world of haves and have nots.
Web3 leaders who build decentralization into platforms and business models will help prevent the Web2 breakdown in sharing across platforms for content, commerce, as well as creation ownership. This will be a huge win for users and communities who want to bridge platforms and own digital experiences.
KEEP IT INCLUSIVE
One thing that legacy social media leaders do well is allow users to easily unfollow bad actors and take their mic away when they don’t act with good intentions. But it took a while for the higher-ups at Twitter and other social media to get there.
Fellow Web3 builders and devs: Let’s not wait until cybercriminals, trolls, and worse topple experiences for the masses. Serious Web3 builders in the social media space should drive for inclusivity at the start to create a digital environment that is welcoming, secure, and engaging for as many people as possible.
Additionally, they should introduce better-aligned user incentives, like allowing creators to make, promote, and sell digital art within the same social platform (similar to the model NFT marketplace Topaz offers today), early in the existence of a platform to make communities more collaborative—and builders more able to find a happy solution with user-run governance models.
LET’S BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS
Communities and technologies exist to make Web3 social media a reality today, but prevalent skepticism, Web2 business models trapping users in their ecosystems, and developer uncertainty around the scale and profitability of Web3 stand in the way. The people building and developing Web3 social platforms have a fleeting opportunity to tear down every barrier to entry, from poor user experience to centralized/overly-governed ecosystems to exclusivity. These step-changes aren’t years away—solutions like Lens, Mastodon, and Farcaster currently solve pieces of these legacy challenges, but the people leading the evolution of these and other Web3 options still have a lot more work to do.
Leaders, developers, and entrepreneurs share an opportunity to create Web3 social platforms that are devoid of walled gardens where developers, creators, and community members, like gamers (roughly 40% of the people on the planet), can own more of their experience.
Perhaps most importantly, they can play a central role in helping community members feel a greater sense of belonging from the outset of a platform’s existence. The people and companies working on Web3 social media have the power to evolve the social fibers that connect human society; creating a better future for the people.
This article first appeared https://www.fastcompany.com
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