Why Social Marketers Should Decentralize Their Online Communities

By: Marina Guryeva, CEO, Commun

January 13, 2020

The explosive growth of social media platforms was once a boon for marketers, who suddenly found themselves with unprecedented access to their audience. Problems emerged, however, when that audience started to realize that it had itself become a product, used and abused in multiple ways by major social platforms.

The inevitable backlash that followed resulted in a growing demand for user-centered alternatives. Decentralized Autonomous Communities (DAC) have emerged as a new way for content creators and curators to monetize their work and eliminate major social platforms’ control over user data and content.

So what is a DAC, exactly, and what can it do for marketers?

A decentralized autonomous community has no sole owner. It is a self-regulated, member-managed entity. Communities can set their own rules, reward users for their activities and penalize them for breaking group rules. DACs sidestep censorship and the problem of overworked moderators.

Taken together, DACs form a secure network—built on blockchain technology—that places control firmly in the hands of its users. This structure creates new and interesting opportunities for marketers:

Self-selected audiences. Users naturally flock to the communities that interest them. A DAC centered around a niche topic or brand grows rapidly with the help of engaged community members. With DACs, existing brand ambassadors have the ability to launch their own communities and lead them. (Of course, they’ll still have to attract brand fans to the community and offer relevant and engaging content.)

Social listening. In special interest-based communities, users spontaneously launch a natural selection process by liking or disliking posts. As a result, marketers can see exactly what is of interest to community members. This helps marketers conserve resources previously spent on surveys and focus groups. So long as they are careful to avoid over-promotion, marketers can periodically supply community members with brand updates, special offers and product news. DACs are also excellent venues to test creative concepts before launching them for a wider audience. 

A crisis barrier. In a group where candid conversation is encouraged, marketers can quickly respond to questions and comments. A DAC includes a firewall separating it from groups that could be not-so-friendly or outright antagonistic. It protects brands from a potential firestorm sparked by a single negative comment or review.

Low-risk moderation. Bad group moderation reflects poorly on the brands associated with a given online community. DACs allow group members to select their own community leaders. A brand ambassador can ascend to this position and hold it only by offering relevant content and recommendations–or be voted out (without unnecessary drama).

More word-of-mouth. DACs spawn dozens of mini brand ambassadors engaged in word-of-mouth marketing. Within the system, community members are more likely to spread the word about their favorite products.

So, where can marketers find DACs? Twitter is about to throw its hat in the ring–but it may be a long time coming. Pioneers like Steemit and Golos are already up and running. There are several more decentralized platforms in the pipeline, powered by blockchain. Unfortunately, low transaction speeds, highly volatile transaction costs and scalability problems often haunt new players.

The transition to DACs from mainstream and legacy platform communities is likely to be swift. In a recent report, Forrester Research stated that for many companies, staying on a legacy commerce technology platform is no longer feasible. It’s simply become a losing game for brand-driven, online communities to stay afloat using older technology.

Marina Guryeva is the CEO of Commun, a social network built on Web3 technologies. The platform, comprised of decentralized autonomous communities, serves as a web, Android and iOS portal where users can form interest-based groups to share, read, watch, rank and discuss content with like-minded peers.

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