Agalia Tan
Dec 20, 2023

From sensemakers to visionaries: Understanding influence within decentralised communities

Decentralised communities will shape the future, and how you choose the right influencers for your brand will be vital, We Are Social’s Agalia Tan shares insights.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
In a world marked by tumultuous changes in the digital and social realm, it is clear that the old guard is in decline; previous incumbents like Vice are facing bankruptcy, and Twitteror as we call it these days, X—is seeing a mass exodus of creators with ad revenues dropping after Elon Musk's takeover.  

The maturation of web3 technologies further catalyses the online landscape's fragmentation. Web3 allows anyone to create gated gardens and rally people around via distributed governance and new incentive structures.   

These are 'decentralised communities': gated gardens for people to seek out other like-minded people who share the same interests and obtain more profound and more intimate connections.  

And most of the time, you will not know about them until you hear it from someone who knows someone who knows someone in the club. Think RADAR for futurists, SongCamp for musicians, or app-based private social groups such as Friends With Benefits.  

For brands exploring these niches, reach becomes a superfluous metric. So do other attributes that brands typically rely on to identify key influencers on social media. 

Unlike the mainstream, in these niche spaces, we are not looking for individuals who embody mass aspiration, such as David Beckham, Taylor Swift, or Emma Chamberlain. Nor are we seeking out individuals who have gone viral thanks to a social movement, such as Tube Girl, now the poster child for empowerment.  

Instead, we are seeing the emergence of four distinct influencer categories.

Sensemakers 

Serving as the bridge between Web2 and Web3, sensemakers are the ones with the ability to demystify the space to the layman. They can simply explain complex concepts and are vital to facilitating the mass adoption of emerging technologies.  

An example would be Greg Isenberg, whose latest startup, 'You Probably Need A Robot,' helps simplify the jargonistic AI landscape.  

They're likely brands' first point of contact with the Web3 space, where they can help marketers demystify the space to their C-Suite, demonstrate its value and secure buy-in. 

Connectors

These individuals are pivotal in forging connections and facilitating relationships within decentralised communities. Beyond being early adopters and champions, they understand the diverse needs of individuals within the ecosystem and build vital linkages between stakeholders.   

Essentially, they're the playmakers of the space. Brands can depend on them to get connected to the right people. One example would be @K41R0N, a dedicated DAO contributor who has helped several decentralised communities connect to web3 engineers, virtual creators, or founders of similar platforms.  

Brands can form partnerships with connectors to cultivate relationships and embed themselves within the community authentically and non-intrusively.  

Curators

Our social feeds are perpetually inundated with content and more content. It's getting more challenging to keep up with the latest happenings and decipher fads from longer-term trends.  

Keenly tapped into internet culture and the latest happenings across various fields, curators can connect the dots and curate content in a way that simplifies the chaos. Look at Ana Andjelic, author of 'The Sociology of Business' newsletter, and Sari Azout, who is currently launching Sublime, a communal knowledge management system.  

Curators can offer brands insights into prevailing trends and dynamics within the space, allowing them to create more relevant and resonant messaging. Curators can also be potential collaborators or 'ambassadors' for brands, where they can further amplify brand initiatives and ideas with which they resonate.  

Visionaries

As the name suggests, visionaries are space thinkers who actively question the status quo and guide towards new horizons. They are putting forth ideas on how to improve social media, often introducing new frameworks or models of doing things.   

Figures such as Yancey Strickler and Austin Robey are standout examples of this role, actively pioneering new collaboration models at Metalabel. Their latest experiment is Lonely Writers' Club, where they brought together over 100 lonely writers globally to collaborate, develop shared resources and "create new writing clubs and labels together in the process.

Other individuals like Toby Shorin of Other Internet also reside in this category, where his prominent works like 'Squad Wealth' and 'Headless Brands' have influenced the development of the Web3 space. 

Marketers can look towards these visionaries to track emergent trends and be in the know of where the current space is headed. That way, brands can better future-proof themselves and possibly clinch a first-mover advantage. 

Depth triumphs breadth 

Overall, these four influencer categories demonstrate that influence is no longer only about mass reach or visibility in a highly fragmented internet landscape. Instead, it comes from influencers' ability to cultivate deep relationships, foster trust within their networks and provide utility to their followers.  

Only brands that understand this new influence landscape will be able to keep up with the pace of social media amid an increasingly fragmented internet.  


Agalia Tan is a senior planner at We Are Social Singapore.

Source:
Campaign Asia

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