I’ve been both obsessed and puzzled with the question of what marketing means to a token-based attention economy.

Like Steem as an example.

I asked Nick Grossman on his blog this morning:

“So what does marketing mean to this model especially when the core of the community is attention ala Steem and not a service or product like cloud storage?

He responded:

“…steem is “full stack” from the start, rather than layered. For example, you could take the new Kin token and apply it to a different social network — so the currency and the user experience are detached.

“I suspect that ultimately the layered model will win out — people will build consumer experiences that are several layers detatched from the underlying tech / currency — the way that most users don’t know or care whether this website was built using wordpress or ruby on rails, etc.

An interesting reframing of the question.

I believe that in many ways, token-based economies are as close to natural value systems as I’ve seen.

They work smartly where the marketplace is focused on goods and services like cloud storage, where the value is a quotient of availability, price, and reputation.

That’s the aspirational basis of all marketplaces, like many in the food and supply chain worlds.

But with attention-based systems like Steem, really social nets of sorts, this has flown in the face of what traditionally is thought of as social behaviors and group dynamics in community structures.

Maybe Nick has restated this appropriately.

There is a core distinction between a community and a marketplace. Most every community aspires to a marketplace status but it is not always a natural state, especially those based entirely on the popularity of subjective content or personalities.

Steem in Nick’s terminology is full stack, in my words, they are using an exoskeleton of economic functionality where in actuality the value is a behavioral metric.

Where the true value of socialization or individualized brands ala Facebook or Twitter is not the token or monetization model to an individual, it is, or I think should be, simply the plumping.

I believe that behaviors are platformed at times. That behaviors while they certainly evolve, maintain social and group dynamic norms. It was true when I ran a large open source project a decade ago, is still true today unless I am falling prey to my own experiential bias.

Ask yourself:

-If you are in charge of marketing for a community like Steem, what are your measurable goals?

-How do you know if you are doing a good job?

-How do you avoid the social media trap to use the value of the token as a metric for the ROI of your community activities?

And another one I can’t shake:

-How do you involve the large brands with massive budgets that want to participate in your community, not as individuals but in a yet-to-be-defined variant of advertising and sponsorship?

I spent some time at the Token Summit last week talking to people about this.  I’m focusing on Steem as an example, as it appears to be at an inflection point where these questions will soon begin to be relevant to their continuing success.

Just because you democratize access and economics, doesn’t remove the necessity to lead the narrative with your community relevant to your goals or even a greater good.

Just because you are a community with a built-in economic model that eliminates the need for interruptive media, doesn’t mean that the human dynamics of leadership and engagement, don’t play a telling and formative role. Or even that token scoring is not interruptive in its own right.

I think the first tactical steps to figure this out will come where proven community expertise and behavioral marketing meets the leap to this new market communities model.

Marketing really does matter and it is just starting to find itself in this developing world.


Thanks again to William and Nick for offering me a seat at the conference to lend a different point of view to the discussion.