Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are evolving from niche interest to mainstream conversation. NFT’s variety of art, from cute to daring and menacing, is attracting a new audience of enthusiasts. Beyond art, NFTs provide a glimpse into a new layer of social interaction.
When framed as social microgrids, NFTs could lead the way to a new form of social media based on creativity, ownership and contribution.
Groups serve as epicenters of NFT projects
Every week, dozens of Discord and Telegram groups appear in support of new NFT projects. These groups serve as the epicenter of a project and help people connect with and learn about the NFT space. A quick listen to a Twitter Spaces conversation with one of these groups reveals a wide range of people interested in NFTs. Some members are seasoned crypto users, many are new to NFT, and some have never used crypto. For first-time crypto users, these groups create a friendlier onboarding experience that reduces anxiety about getting started with cryptocurrencies.
Conversations in these groups reveal a shared interest in digital self-expression and a desire to connect with a community of like-minded people. Community values are often formed around the quality of art, rarity, and ideas that align with the emerging energy in the community. Like other forms of social collaboration, these groups tend to have identifiable leaders who have taken an interest in growing and nurturing the community. These members set the tone, help the community organize, and ensure that community rules are followed.
Each group is establishing their roles, values, and codes of conduct, often in a way that echoes the traits or ideas of the animals in the NFT artwork. The apes of the island of the apes share monkey memes, Degen’s Yetis are stimulated with phrases like “Haha, Yeti” and CryptoDads. Share his best dad jokes. In all groups, there is a shared vocabulary for those who know. Almost all groups greet each other with “gm”, an abbreviation for “good morning” popularized by CryptoTwitter.
And it’s common to see comments like “looks weird”, a hat suggestion, or a playful insult to the weirdness of an NFT. These kinds of jokes are the lifeblood of an NFT community and, for many enthusiasts, it’s replacing the endless scrolling of Facebook and Instagram.
The world enters the metaverse
The big social media platforms have reached a tipping point. Regulatory concerns about digital privacy and declining user trust are raising questions about the future of these ubiquitous platforms. As the world enters a new phase of digital interaction, a place some call the Metaverse, users are considering forms of expression and interaction that do not require giving up digital privacy.
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NFTs could be a step towards new social interactions, a notion that might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. TikTok recently announced a creator-led NFT collection, Twitter is embracing NFT verification for profiles, and Coinbase is launching an NFT marketplace. These signals target a mainstream audience that could expand the opportunity to make NFTs an important part of our social connections. Large social media will continue to play a role, but insights being formed in NFT communities highlight a new kind of social interaction based on NFT rather than followers and likes.
Utility beyond monetary value
All communities are competing for knowledge of the project, as it may lead to an increase in the “floor price”, the average value of an NFT in secondary markets. Beyond the average price, the most progressive communities are thinking about how to add value to members through benefits and exclusive access. This type of member reward is a great opportunity to add a new utility that goes beyond the monetary value of the NFT.
Related: Beyond the Hype: The True Value of NFTs Yet to Be Determined
The use of treasuries, funded by project proceeds, is gaining popularity as communities seek to put their ideas into practice. At the time of writing, Nouns holds 13,722 Ether (ETH) in its treasury, an incredible sum for a decentralized community built around NFT. CryptoDads is making beer and CyberKongz is edifice a banana vending machine that produces, you guessed it, more NFT. Adding utility to NFT projects dominated by profile pictures and memes can seem counterintuitive. However, as these communities mature, they find creative ways to align action around shared values.
DAOs and the reinvention of governance
As groups find their way into community decision-making, the need for governance has prompted the idea of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The Nouns community is reinventing governance through ownership of NFT by empowering members with a “one token, one vote” approach. Members with at least 1% of the token supply can submit proposals that the community can vote on. As the decentralized web takes center stage, DAOs are becoming an important part of the conversation. The combination of NFTs with governance structures seems like a natural alignment of values that rewards community ownership and participation.
Related: DAOs will be the future of online communities in five years
A new social code, driven by ownership and collaboration, is embedded in the spirit of the NFT culture. While the NFT narrative is still young, it is clear that a social layer is driving adoption. NFTs could prove to be the necessary catalyst to usher in a new wave of crypto users.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every trade and investment move involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Nick casares is the Product Manager for PolyientX. The focus of their work is to help early-stage teams discover product-to-market fit. For the past decade, Nick has served as a product manager, UX consultant, startup coach, and community builder.