Kim Wu, global lead, partner marketing, TikTok
Chris Garbutt, chief creative officer, Vice Media Group and co-president Virtue
Paris Hilton, ceo, entrepreneur, innovator 
Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman of VaynerX, ceo of VaynerMedia
Ryan Reynolds, Part-time actor, business owner

Close your eyes.

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Imagine Steve Jobs' return to revive Apple in today's creator economy, filled with fragmented distribution platforms such as ad-supported ones like The New York Times, Google, and Netflix, community-funded initiatives like Bored Ape Yacht Club, and subscription-based communities with authentic brand partnerships like Twitch. How could a launch today match the impact of TBWA\Chiat Day's 'Think Different' campaign, which led to two consecutive profitable quarters after nearly $2 billion in losses over the previous two years? This question highlights the importance of understanding the modern creator economy, the connections between Web 2 and Web 3 communities, and their influence on the marketing funnel.

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The Creator Economy
The Creator Economy consists of self-employed individuals who make a living by creating, distributing, and selling their knowledge, skills, or products (either their own or brand-supported) to a loyal community. In the United States, there are 50 million creators, representing 15% of the population, who attract large audiences willing to spend money to be part of their communities. In 2019, creators on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch earned over $2 billion combined.

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Social media, especially TikTok, has been pivotal in building engaged fan communities. Kim Wu, Global Lead of Partner Marketing at TikTok, shared at a panel on the Influential yacht how a positive comment she made about Christina Aguilera garnered 100,000 likes, illustrating that "community is in the comments."

The rise of the creator economy has been fueled by the decline of cookies, increased use of ad-blockers, Gen Z's demand for authenticity, and the ownership model of blockchain (NFTs), enabling creators to build their own media empires. Brands are expected to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, according to Mediakix. Chris Garbutt, Chief Creative Officer of Vice Media Group, noted at The Contagious Villa that "ad-supported media is becoming irrelevant."

The rise of the creator economy doesn't mean brands should ignore traditional sales, marketing, and loyalty efforts. Instead, community acts as a catalyst for these efforts, unlocking potential that is currently wasted by a narrow focus on the marketing funnel. 2  

The Marketing Funnel As The Brand Trust Ecosystem
The rise of the creator economy doesn’t mean brands should ignore more traditional sales, marketing and loyalty. On the contrary, community is a catalyst for those efforts, that unlocks the potential currently being squandered by a narrow view on who is important as determined by the funnel. 2

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The marketing funnel reduces a person's value to a binary measure of purchase intent—either they are a lead or they are not. This approach is outdated and impersonal, originating in 1898 when direct mail guaranteed attention, a far cry from today's environment. Imagine placing community at the core of your organization, with sales, marketing, product development, and customer service as interconnected spokes. Instead of a marketing funnel, envision a brand trust ecosystem, where different levels of effort are required for different individuals.

Traditional large-scale marketing campaigns, which take months to produce, only tell half the story. Ryan Reynolds, a part-time actor and burgeoning business mogul with ventures in telecom and spirits, emphasizes the importance of speed to market. “Most campaigns can take 9-12 months to launch…speed is incredibly important to me. It’s about keeping the necessary checks and balances, but creating a system that allows us to work at speed.” In a 24/7 content-driven world where people's online behaviors are too fluid for the traditional funnel, speed to market is crucial. This might mean complementing or replacing large campaigns with thousands of pieces of tailored content to meet the diverse preferences of their communities. To feed the hungry, 24/7 content machine in a person-centric world where “people’s online behaviors are more fluid than the funnel was built to cater for,”3 speed to market matters. 

Web 2 vs. Web 3 Community Web 2 can be limiting for creators and brands compared to Web 3. Although not exhaustive, here are a few key differences:

  1. Ownership: Web 3 offers true ownership through NFTs and blockchain technology.

  2. Monetization: Web 3 provides more direct and varied monetization avenues.

  3. Community Engagement: Web 3 fosters deeper, more meaningful community engagement.

By embracing these elements, brands can better navigate the evolving digital landscape.

Web 2 & Web 3 Community

Web 2 creator communities and brands rely heavily on ad-supported platform algorithms, which often disproportionately favor the platform in revenue sharing.

In Web 3, creators own their platforms and monetize their work directly with their community through NFTs, eliminating middlemen. Brands should consider their metaverse strategy carefully, defining their community and offering unique experiences not available in Web 2.

A strong Web 2 community might track around 100,000 activities per month across social channels, forums, and chat apps. In contrast, some Web 3 communities can see over 100,000 activities in a single day.

To manage the high volume of activity in Web 3 communities, community managers need advanced marketing technology to track engagement across all channels and derive insights. Platforms like Orbit or Common Room can be instrumental.

In Web 2 communities, members can be identified, and their data can be sold by ad-supported platforms to companies for targeted advertising.

In Web 3, the lack of real-life identification requires creators and brands to truly listen to their members and interpret their engagement signals—such as sharing wallet addresses, attending events, or members helping each other.

Summary: A community is not a funnel, and building a community is about making real connections, not just conversions.

chris garbutt paris hilton gary vaynerchuk kim wu cannes lions festival far from timid honey pot


A community is not a funnel and building a community is not about conversions but making real connections.4

Now  that you know the importance of community, what would have been your marketing strategy for the launch of Think Different under the same circumstances as 1997, but with today’s marketing ecosystem? I’ll tell you my plan if you tell me yours.

Are you a brand that wants to be at the center of culture? Let's talk. 

bout Far From Timid's Cannes Coverage: 
Far From Timid's coverage of Cannes Lions 2022 for our magazine identified the top themes brands need to prioritize, supported by impactful quotes from inspiring sessions featuring leading brands and agencies. We created cross conversations, blending insights from different panels, because ideas don’t develop in echo chambers. Each portion of our series includes “truth-bomb” takeaways and showcases award-winning work, demonstrating that progress requires actionable ideology.

Cannes Lions 2022 Award-Winning Metaverse Work
Royalty Free Bot: From DAVID Bogotá for Budweiser 

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