Social tokens will drive a fundamental rethinking of money and fandom. Money isn’t notes and metals; it’s anything that represents values agreed collectively by a community of people. These people are bound by social relations and shared interests. These people can be fans of a creator.
The shared love fans have for a creator and desire to stand out from fans of other creators led to the emergence of fandom names like Beliebers (fans of Justin Bieber), Little Monsters (Lady Gaga), Bey Hive (Beyonce) and many more. If a fandom name brings identity and a sense of belonging to fans, social tokens ascribe value (real monetary value) to that identity.
What if you, a die hard fan of Beyonce, own the Bey Hive currency called Bey Hive coin which grants you early purchase of the Ivy Park Merch before others who aren’t Beyonce’s fans?
It’s not surreal!
This is the power of social tokens.
What Are Social Tokens?
Social tokens are money minted on the blockchain by creators for their fans. These social tokens are unique to the personal brand of a creator. The Ethereum blockchain is the most renowned platform for minting social tokens due to its mainstream adoption among developers.
Social tokens minted on the Ethereum blockchain are under the ERC 20 standard. This standard makes it possible for social tokens to be exchangeable and redeemable. The minting and monetary terms of social tokens is set by writing smart contracts and cannot be changed by anyone once deployed (not even by the creator). Terms like the total unit of a social token to be minted, say 1 million units, are set in the smart contract.
Including a fixed cap on the total unit of a social token to be minted brings transparency between a creator and fans. This makes fans fully aware of the percentage of the social token they’re holding and its value.
Social tokens present endless opportunities for creators as well as fans. Some of the opportunities which are being used by other creators are:
- Capture of Future Economic Value
- Checkmate De-platforming
The monetization strategies for creators on legacy Social Networking Sites (SNS) have always been flawed. It is one that doesn’t favor the two parties integral to the success of any SNS: the creators and the fans (users). Jack Conte was motivated to create Patreon after a video of his had over a million views on Youtube, but generated less than $200 revenue.
Social tokens provide alternative models of monetization which create revenue directly for creators without gatekeepers. This can be used to finance and support creators at various stages of their journey. A Creator can allow fans subscribe to his/her craft by purchasing his/her social tokens. These social tokens can then be used as tickets or license to access exclusive work of the creator. It also enables creators to offer value to true fans, which is somewhat impossible to do on legacy SNS.
The concept of ownership also holds true with this opportunity. Content uploaded to legacy SNS are co-owned by the creator and the SNS. It’s how the SNS is able to shill advertising dollars with the content of creators. Social tokens present an opportunity for creators to truly own their content and offer it to anyone at any value they deem fit.
A great example of how social tokens are used for monetization is Friends With Benefits (FWB). FWB is a news, technology and entertainment community founded by Trevor McFedries. Members are allowed access to various Discord channels of FWB by owning a required amount of the community’s social token, $FWB.
Another example is Brian Flynn. Brian Flynn is a creator, whose social token, $JAMM is used by fans to access his newsletter, Jamm Session. To access the newsletter, you need to be a holder of 1,000 $JAMM tokens.
What really, in tangible terms, is the upside of fandom/followership for fans?
What’s in it for the fans?
Fans create word of mouth, online and offline, which grows a creator’s network, but aren’t incentivized to do so. The game can be hacked with social tokens to solve this unspoken problem for fans.
Creators can reward true fans with social tokens for creating awareness and sharing information about their works. This is a great way to ascribe value to fandom and make fans advocates of the creator’s brand.
Jaclyn Rose, an Instagram influencer once rewarded the first 10 watchers of her Instagram live video with $TING 10,000. $TING is her branded social token.
FWB also rewards its members with $FWB tokens commensurate with their level of participation and engagement in the community.
Capture of Future Economic Value
What if you had the chance to invest in Drake at the early stage before he became this huge?
If you’ve been a true fan of Drake since Day 1, wouldn’t you like to invest in his brand in the early days? But the challenges are:
How can the investment be done?
What asset do you have claim to as a result of investing in Drake?
What metrics can be used to measure an increase in the economic value of this asset as Drake becomes bigger?
Social tokens unlock these puzzles.
Just like early investors get to profit from a company’s success later on, creators can capture economic value of their craft for true fans at the early stage as well. Social tokens can be the assets a creator distributes to true early fans as a form of investment in him/her.
It’s also a great way to convert early fans to foot-soldiers/promoters of the creator. Early fans are motivated to create awareness because as the creator’s network grows, new fans are converted. More fans implies the creator becomes bigger and these new fans also become holders of the creator’s token. A feedback loop emerges as fans engage in economic activity with the tokens. This increases the value of the creator’s token being held by fans.
It’s a win-win game for the creator and the fans.
So if Drake’s social token, say $Drake, was available when he just started out and you had it, it’ll be worth much now considering how big he’s become.
Another thing this does is improvement of the belief system of a creator.
When fans invest by buying or engaging in activities to get rewarded with a creator’s social token, it serves as a form of belief capital for a creator. For creators at the early stage, imposter syndrome and the fear of their craft not getting noticed are major challenges. A knowledge that some true fans are willing to invest in a creator by holding his token can do a lot.
SNSs have the authority to ban any user who violates the ‘agreed’ terms and conditions. This can be a huge loss to any creator who experiences it. You get to lose your creative digital platform as well as your organic fans which took you much effort to build.
Social tokens can be used to counter the effects of banning. A creator who has a branded social token can distribute it to his fans across various social network sites. This serves as a form of identifier for his fans. Due to this, deplatforming from a social network doesn’t lead to loss of fans.
You lose the platform, not your fans.
Creators can also use their tokens to pool fans from different social networks into a single community. This takes the power from legacy SNS into the hands of creators and their fans.
The use cases and opportunities of social tokens are endless. We’re still scratching the surface. The creator economy will experience numerous changes this decade. Creators will be able to incorporate their individuality and personal brand effortlessly. Fans will become stakeholders of their favorite creators/stars. Social tokens will be the major router of creative and user generated capital
It’s going to be a joyful ride.
Come on in!