The NFT community explained.
Find out what the NFT community is, how you can be involved and how to build it.
A contribution to FUTUREPROOF Media
Previously we discussed the many intricacies that are crucial to forming a basic understanding of NFTs. From the nitty-gritty details of how to set up your wallet to knowing how the different marketplaces operate and learning the rather unique lexicon. These are all important to have a strong foundation. Another equally important aspect to understanding NFTs and their potential though is ‘community’.
Despite our new online identities revolving around cartoon JPEGs, they are representative of a much greater cultural phenomenon. These seemingly innocuous, and sometimes pixelated images, have ignited global interest and the birth of a growing neo-cultural revolution. A moment in whereby many are comparing it to the art renaissance, the difference being that now, it is digital. Creators, web users, entrepreneurs, crypto traders, and others, from all corners of the world, are forging powerful, fast-growing, borderless communities and helping to build, and participate in something much bigger than just art. Follow along as we unpack the meaning of ‘community’ and what it’s crucial role and meaning is in the context of NFTs.
So what is the NFT community?
Not many realise, but the first NFT communities were formed years before the boom we’re now witnessing in 2021. For this we must rewind to 2017. The earliest crypto enthusiasts, artists, gamers, and collectors were already experimenting with new types of digital assets around which there was virtual engagement with like-minded people. Gaming, earning tokens, forming bonds, and conversing about their digital assets were a formality and CryptoKitties was the first viral project to instigate this. The Dapper Labs team behind this worked hard to establish a brand and game that would last, and the fact that it is still around 4 years later reinforces this point. CryptoPunks by Larva Labs was another early (OG) NFT project that also dropped in 2017 as a collection of 10,000 uniquely generated characters, synonymous with pixel art. Today, they are the most valuable and sought-after NFT collection. Owning a Cryptopunk today means you are part of an OG and elite club of discerning people from around the world with similar interests and appreciation for the world of crypto and NFTs. These early projects provided a lens into what community could be and a microcosm for the vast potential for NFTs to become ubiquitous in the emerging digital economy.
Holding on to NFTs has initiated tribal communities, ones in which collectors work together to help drive the value of the project. In particular, strong communities have recently emerged out of NFT projects that follow the pfp template made famous by Cryptopunks. In May 2021, a small group under the name Yuga Labs created and dropped the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) - a collection of 10,000 unique cartoon-ape collectibles living on the Ethereum blockchain. What followed in the weeks and months after as momentum grew was an organic explosion of community and value. #BAYC quickly became a global cultural phenomenon. Purchasing a bored ape saw collectors gain exclusive membership to the club, which also meant that you had the complete IP rights to use your ape. Subsequently, the collectors were provided with a rare opportunity for creative ownership. They began to form micro-communities, and collectors utilized their ape in their own derivative projects. There have been a number of spin-offs including an animated comedy series, a streetwear fashion brand, bored ape coffee, and even a pixel art adventure series.
A simple collection idea suddenly spawned into a globally recognisable brand that was at the inflection point of a cultural shift. BAYC not only took over the NFT world (from merch, events, and even their own token expected to launch in the Q1 of 2022), it took over the real world too. From featuring on mainstream news channels, being proudly showcased by global icons from the world of sport, music, entertainment, and business, to being recognised as a game-changing project that deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the most respected traditional artist by the world’s premier auction houses Christie’s and Sothbey’s - the collection has helped to shape the NFT ecosystem, chart its trajectory and become the cornerstone for a growing global NFT community and it’s incredible potential. Evidently, the power of the community is a force to be recognised, as it propelled a project from the NFT world to the mainstream, while simultaneously creating more and more value for themselves.
Where to find the community?
The community has always jumped from medium to medium. Prior to the start of the NFT boom in February, many of the early movers congregated on Clubhouse, an online audio platform where users could create specific rooms and chat and discuss the latest NFT news, or simply build friendships!
Since then, users have been moved to Twitter, an online platform that has seen some of the most esteemed personalities in the NFT space garner over 100k followers. Twitter has also enabled the convergence of various global communities - business, sports, crypto, art, NFT to merge and as a result grow exponentially. #NFT Twitter is now a thing. It is a space for the community to share their work, discuss their day to day and again, establish meaningful relationships and more but all in real-time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without interference, moderation or dictation.
More recently, Twitter’s own new integrated audio function “Spaces” easily allows anyone to instantly create a space for discourse on any topic and invite speakers to participate. As a result, regular shows (kind of like Podcasts but LIVE) have been formed, interviews have taken place and the resulting transparency has meant that communities have grown stronger. From exciting alpha to difficult conversations that were addressed, the live aspect has enabled a sense of accountability and in turn brought the community closer together.
Discord is also one of the most prominent engagement tools and platforms for the NFT community. It is a VoIP platform that allows users to message, audio call, and even share their screens. Thousands of members join discords to hear the latest alpha, and NFT projects also utilse the platform to grow their own communities.
How to best engage in the community
Despite all of the information being out in the open, it is equally difficult to figure out how you can be an active community member and participate effectively. There are a number of ways you can do this, some of which I have listed below.
Find the reputable names in the NFT scene, find out who they interact with, and interact with them.
Join Twitter spaces, simply listening and showing up is enough to demonstrate that you are reliable and keen to participate.
Don’t be afraid to showcase your talent on Twitter, you will find like-minded individuals who are also working towards the same goals and with the same passion.
Share your own personal journey, where you came from and what you can contribute to the space is more important than you think.
Get in touch with the creators who you are interested in, share your thoughts and ask questions, be inspired by those around you.
Join Discords and engage with the communities there, a simple GM a day will ensure that you are committed to the vibes.
Support others, this is key to participating in the community and it should always be at the forefront of your mind.
DAOs refer to decentralized autonomous organisations and they are building blocks and the future of web 3.0 where the community is at the heart. With self-governance and no executive leadership, the average collector is suddenly brought into the role of the ‘doer’ as opposed to the consumer. DAOs give collectors a voice, and the opportunity to impact decisions through votes. Importantly, they have changed the relationship that we have as receivers, they in turn help to foster loyalty, dedication, and support, all of which will help to propel the community forward. With creative control, collectors can expand the vision and direction of the project themselves, and that’s empowering.
A number of DAOs have been created already, most notably the Nouns DAO, an NFT project that is made up of 10,000 pixel art pfps. However the drop mechanic differs from the norm, they have experimented with auctions, one noun every 24 hours which works out to an estimated 27 years. Each NFT equates to one vote in the DAO and most importantly, 100% of the sales are allocated to the community treasury, of which $34 million is already waiting to be used appropriately by the Nouns governance. Interestingly, other NFT DAOs are pooling funds together to be able to bid on the nouns themselves, in hopes of winning the auction and joining the Nouns DAO. Evidently, this highlights the extent to which DAOs can bootstrap community and governance hand in hand.
NFTs can be broken down into fungible tokens via the process of fractionalisation. This method of ownership has quickly gathered momentum in the space given that it enables a community to divide ownership of an NFT. The increased popularity of NFTs has resulted in an increase in value/price, leaving many collectors and enthusiasts out of reach from blue-chip projects like Cryptopunks, BAYC, Fidenzas, or XCOPY originals. However, the fractionalisation of artwork is providing these same individuals the opportunity to be involved, where several or indeed hundreds of people are sharing in ownership and appreciation of artworks together. Fractionalisation is transforming the collecting experience and is a testament to the fast evolving and innovating NFT community.
Building a community
As you would expect, there are no short cuts here. You cannot simply skip the investment and effort that goes into building a community and expect to grow in the NFT space. Unlike web 2.0 that primarily relied on numbers to build brands, in web3, there is a significant emphasis on more engagement. For a successful project, the community and founders have to converse. There has to be interaction, transparency, honesty, and a sense of leadership must be demonstrated. There are a number of ways that communities can be fostered, some of which are listed below.
Engage with the community on a daily basis, interact on a personal level and always be transparent.
Be consistent, share your progress in public and deliver value.
Deepen your connection by opening yourself up to feedback, hearing what the community has to say, and acting upon their requests.
Demonstrate your leadership, ensure you have a strategy and direction, and follow this up by delivering against commitments.
Reward loyalty, no matter how successful you become it is always because of the community, by showing your appreciation you are furthering the connection with your community.
Be positive, be honest, and have good principles, by doing so you will attract a community that shares similar values.
The community is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the NFT world. Art only has value if someone is there to appreciate it. As a community builder myself, I thought I would share what I believe community to be, and why it’s incredibly important in the context of NFTs.
Community is coming together to create value and help one another to progress, without being asked to do so. If it wasn’t because of the selfless acts of kindness and support, I would not be in the position that I am in. Every day the community engages to help one another, step by step and little by little. Eventually, small moves become bigger, and soon a handful of individuals transforms into a global network of hundreds or thousands. This is where the value will always stem from.