The Future of Digital And Social Media Marketing With Web3.

You’ve probably heard a lot about Web3 and related terms such as NFTs, blockchain, and crypto. What are they? Web3 is still emerging but basically is a decentralized version of the world wide web. Web3 is being built on blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs making the Internet more assessable, secure, and private. The image below by Cointelegraph describes the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and Web3.

Source: Cointelegraph

Blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a secure decentralized record of transactions. Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency secured by blockchain. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are assets based on a blockchain with unique identification codes. NFTs can represent physical assets like artwork, real estate, or a ticket to an in person event. They can also be used to represent digital artwork, in-game items, or access to special privileges.

How does all this impact digital and social marketing communications? Web3 will give users more ownership of their data and how it is used. This means marketers will have less access to data from consumers and will need more creative strategies to reach their target audiences. They’ll need to be more transparent about their data practices and will need to provide incentives to collect data from consumers.

HubSpot predicts that as Web3 takes hold there will be a shift from large social media platforms earning profits from content creators to content creators owning and controlling their own content and profits. This means marketers may need to shift from purchasing ads on platforms like Facebook and YouTube to forming more relationships with with content creators.

Cryptocurrency and NFTs offer new forms of incentives for brands, their customers, and their audience. Brands could create their own crypto and unique digital assets such as NFTs to reward consumers for sharing their data, spending time on the brand website, responding to surveys, or helping to create new products and services.

Web3 opens up creative possibilities way beyond traditional rewards programs. Gamification rises to new levels when rewards can come via brand tokens based on crypto. As we head into a cookie-less future this may be the new way to collect consumer digital data. It can also help marketers plan for the third-party cookie phaseout.

A cookie is the data generated by a website and saved by your web browser to remember information about you. For years cookies have meant that consumers don’t have to reenter information when visiting websites and they can receive more customized communications and offers. It has also enabled marketers to collect enormous amounts of data about consumers which makes targeting more effective and efficient.

Yet growing concern over Internet privacy and the emergence of Web3 is leading to a phase out of third-party cookies. For example, Google announced a phaseout of its third-party cookies in late 2023. Safari has blocked third-party cookies by default since 2020. In June 2022, Firefox rolled out total cookie protection by default on all its browsers signaling the shift from third-party to first-party data.

Source: Firefox

Experts say marketers will have to increase their first-party data strategy by enhancing data collection and management. This includes more transparent communication with customers and making a case for the value and personalization they will receive for sharing their data with the brand. Salesforce has recently announced a product that may make this easier. NFT Cloud will enable Salesforce’s customers to mint NFTs using their CMR and offer them as rewards or sell them on current brand eCommerce websites.

Another option is to turn to new emerging identity solutions like Unified ID and IdRamp. They allow advertisers to reach people who have opted-in to tracking. Yet, marketers will need to make the case to users why they should opt-in. What value will they receive in exchange?

Even then, there may be a sizable part of the population who will simply decide they don’t want to be tracked on the Internet anymore. Marketers also need to prepare strategies to reach people without tracking them. Melinda Han Williams, Chief Data Scientist at Dstillery says, “The good news is you don’t need to know who someone is to know whether they’d be receptive to your message. Today’s artificial intelligence (AI) enables marketers to choose best impressions rather than the best users.” We don’t need to know everything about a user to target customers effectively.

Some examples of brands leveraging Web3 are Nike, the NBA, and Chipotle. Nike purchased RTFKT Studios in 2021 and began making NFT sneakers. Their first collection called CryotoKicks Dunk Genesis sold 600 pairs in 6 minutes for a total of $3.1 million. Once brand fans own them, they can customize them using skin vials, created by different designers that add special effects and patterns.

The NBA created virtual trading card NFTs featuring brief highlight reels of top players. The cards can be bought and sold online building the NBA brand community around collecting and trading cards of fan favorite teams and players.

Chipotle offered rewards for the first 30,000 fans that visited their metaverse restaurant in Roblox. They were given vouchers for burritos at real-life Chipotle restaurants.

How will your brand shift your digital and social strategies to prepare for Web3?

Do Marketers Always Want Consumer’s To Consume?

In marketing we call our target consumers. Yet not all marketing goals or messages are about increasing consumption. Sometimes marketers want the target market to consume something different, consume less, or simply consume an idea.

Patagonia famously ran an ad with the headline “Don’t Buy This Jacket” on Black Friday. They sell clothing, but their overall mission is, “We’re in business to save our home planet. We aim to use the resources we have–our voice, our business, and our community–to do something about our climate crisis.”

Patagonia balances selling new clothes with its mission. For example, they encourage consumers to consume less by trading in old Patagonia clothes to be resold with its Wornwear program. They call for climate action on Twitter, and share conservation messages on their YouTube channel.

One video features Salvar Una Cuenca running to save a watershed. Another has an employee explaining how to repair a zipper to keep a jacket longer. The message is getting through. In a recent Harris Poll, Patagonia is listed as the most reputable company in the U.S.

Sometimes marketers want consumers to consume more of their product by consuming more but by consuming something different. An example is Campbell’s sharing recipes featuring their condensed soup as a key ingredient.

Campbell’s meets the needs of busy adults giving them quick and easy recipes that while increasing purchase of their soup. They send the message where their target is looking for meal ideas with timely posts on Pinterest like “Get hammy with your Easter leftovers.”

Gatorade is another example. They don’t want their consumers to consume more sports drinks during workouts. They want their target to drink Gatorade over competitor Powerade.

They position themselves as hydration for high school athletes by helping their target tell their sports stories on social media. They created a free app “Highlights” for teen athletes to capture and share pro videos of their best sports moments.

A nonprofit or government agency often wants marketing messages that encourage consumers to consume less such as a natural resource conservation effort. Right now many western states are facing severe droughts. They need marketing messages to get residents to consume less water.

Some public health efforts aim for no consumption. The Truth anti-tobacco campaign has used marketing to reduce teen smoking. In the 1990s, they used PSA TV ads to reach their audience. Now Truth is reaching teens on Instagram and Youtube to reduce teen vaping.

Other marketing messages encourage donations. The nonprofit Dress for Success targets women on Facebook to donate their professional clothes, talents, and time to help other women obtain opportunities and reach economic independence.

What other goals do social media marketing efforts try to accomplish for organizations, businesses, or clients?

To learn more on consumers, target markets and target audiences see “Are You My Audience? 6 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.”

Are You My Audience? 6 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.

A narrowly focused message stands out and reaches and motivates an audience. General messages addressing everyone get lost in the crowd. As a communication professional or student, you need to know the target audience for any strategy or plan.

How to determine target audience.

Usually, clients do provide a target audience defined by the various bases of segmentation shown above. Yet it is not always the right target. Oftentimes business people are good at their business but are not the best marketers. Even top marketers at Fortune 500s can get it wrong. If you don’t start with the right target your strategy will not be successful and not meet the objectives the client is hiring you to help deliver.

Remember that clients are hiring you or you are getting a new project from a boss because current efforts are not working. There is a problem to be solved. Sometimes it’s an SEO problem, sometimes a social media content problem, but it can also be a target audience problem. How do you know you have the right target?

  1. Don’t assume your target is your social media followers. A client for the social media agency BSquared defined their target audience as 18-24 year-olds. They had the most followers from this age group. Yet BSquared took the time to look at additional social listening data beyond the brand pages and social media and digital advertising data. They found that the next two older age groups actually accounted for 90% of sales compared to just 10% of sales coming from the younger group.
  2. Don’t assume everyone that could use the product is your target. Gatorade learned this shifting to a mass-market target of hydration for everyone 18-49 and sales declined 10%. The core athlete got the message – Gatorade was no longer for them. Further research revealed high school and endurance athletes made up just 22% of customers but accounted for 46% of all sales. Only when they focused back on these two niche audiences with fewer mass ads and more target digital ads did sales return.
  3. Don’t assume the people who use the product are your target. Proctor & Gamble’s brand Old Spice sales were declining. Additional consumer research revealed that women purchase 60% of all men’s body washes. For the first time, the brand targeted women as the audience for its men’s brand. Within a year, sales grew 125% surpassing competitors to become the #1 brand in the category.
  4. Don’t assume your target audience is current customers. When sales level off or decline marketers need to reach a new group of people that is not their current users. The market for two-door coupe cars has been declining for years. The Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV is designed to reach a new audience. Targeting current Mustang drivers would not be effective as the car was designed to gain EV market share from Tesla. In the first year of sales, 70% of Mach-E buyers were new to the Ford brand.
  5. Don’t assume there is only one target audience. There may be multiple target audiences that influence a purchase decision. Colleges know that parents influence high school students’ college decisions. Therefore, enrollment strategies often include a primary target audience of high school students with a secondary target audience of parents of high school-age children. Messages and channels must be targeted for both.
  6. Don’t assume the target is consumers of the product. Other audiences can be selected for corporate communication and public relations to manage company reputation with employees, investors, suppliers, regulators and the media. With the Crock-Pot ‘This Is Us’ crisis an episode of the popular show killed the main character in a fire from the brand’s faulty product. The PR agency responded quickly with a message to multiple stakeholders assuring the public that Crock-Pots were safe.

Also, note that business to business (B2B) target audiences are usually segmented with different variables called firmographics based on company size, industry, geographic market, and business needs. A B2B target audience can include people with certain job titles, and members of professional organizations.

If you are a marketer at a business or marketing communications professional working for the business, it is always good practice to verify that the target audience is really who you think. You need the right target audience to meet the business objectives. How do you know you are addressing the right business objectives? Perform a Root Cause Analysis.