By Alona Elkayam
Cannes Lions 2022: The Value of Community + Connection For Web 2/3
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
The most iconic event at The Cannes Lions Festival was a live interview between creative maverick David Droga, CEO of Accenture Song and the legendary Lee Clow, Chairman Emeritus, TBWA\Worldwide (over Zoom) at Bloomberg Media’s Villa. I hadn’t been this star struck since I got to hang out with Mark Ronson at the 2019 Cannes Festival.
Lee Clow, while at TBWA\Chiat Day, and Steve Jobs made brand history in 1997 with one Super Bowl commercial. A single airing of the “Think Different” launched a new era of trust and loyalty within Apple’s very small community of fervent fans who were abandoning them–designers and desktop publishers, educators and students, and home users.”1,
Now, close your eyes.
Imagine Steve Jobs’ return to revive the ailing Apple brand in 1997 took place today in the creator economy, with thousands of fragmented distribution platforms whether that means ad-supported like The New York Times, Google, or Netflix, community-funded like Bored Ape Yacht Club, or subscription-based communities mixed with authentic brand partnerships like Twitch (9,796 U.S. creators earned $87,147,723)? What would be the most effective way to distribute that message that would equal the impact this campaign had of 2 consecutive profitable quarters in a row one year later–after nearly $2 billion in losses the previous two years?
I use this question as a mechanism to sculpt the importance of community and what it looks like today. Knowledge of the creator economy, how Web 2 & 3 communities connect, and how communities impact the marketing funnel are critical in this understanding.
The Creator Economy
Creators are self-employed individuals who earn a living by creating, distributing, and/or selling their knowledge, skills, or products (their own or brand-supported) to a loyal community.
Today, there are 50 million creators in the United States (15% of our population) with huge audiences that are willing to spend money to feel part of their communities. On Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch combined creators earned over $2b in 2019.
Social media, especially Tik Tok, has been a key driver in building these engaged fan communities. Kim Wu, Global lead of partner marketing at Tik Tok, at a panel on the Influential yacht, shared how an uplifting comment she made about Christina Aguilera garnered 100,000 likes on TikTok. Stats like that take engagement to a whole new level where as Kim Wu put it, “community is in the comments”
The explosion of the creator economy has been made possible with the decline of the cookie, increasing use of ad-blocking technology, GenZ’s demand for authenticity, and the ownership model of blockchain (NFT’s) where creators have built media empires of their own. Brands are expected to spend up to a whopping $15B on influencer marketing by 2022, per Mediakix.1
As Chris Garbutt Chief creative officer Vice Media Group and co-resident Virtue, shared in a session at The Contagious Villa, “ad- supported media is becoming irrelevant.”
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
The marketing funnel forces brands to look at the value of a person by their likelihood of their purchase intent in a very binary way–are they a lead or not. How inhuman. See, the marketing funnel was created in 1898 at a time when putting a direct mail piece in someone’s mailbox guaranteed attention, but this isn’t the case today.
What if you put community at the center of your organization and sales, marketing, product development and customer service were spokes? What if it wasn’t a marketing funnel, but we called it a brand trust ecosystem? Some people requiring more effort than others.
The traditional model of large slick marketing campaigns that take months to produce is only half the story. For Ryan Reynolds, part-time actor and up and coming mogul comprised of business from telecom to spirits, speed to market matters in marketing. “Most campaigns can take up 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.”
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. Perhaps part of creating a system that allows Mr. Reynolds’ teams to work at speed include pairing or dare I say replacing, those campaigns with thousands of pieces of atomized content to satisfy all the nuances of their communities' preferences.
Web 2 & Web 3 Community
Community in web 2 can be limiting for creators and brands compared to web 3. This is not an exhaustive comparison, but I’ve made a few of the most evident.
Web 2 creator communities and brands are at the mercy of ad-supported platform algorithms. To make matters worse, the rev share between creators and the platforms favor the platform disproportionately.
In Web 3, creators own their platform and earn a living monetizing their work, directly with their community absent of middlemen platforms, in the form of NFT’s. (Brands should take note and think about their metaverse strategy, defining in great detail what their community is about. What will they get here that’s not on Web 2?)
A strong web 2 community probably tracks about 100,000 community activities per month across social channels, forums, and chat apps. For some communities in web 3, they see more than 100,000 in a single day.
For community managers to manage the volume of activity in tightknit web 3 communities, this requires a new set of marketing technology that can see community engagement across all channels and drive insights. Platforms like Orbit or Common Room.
Finally, in web 2 communities, members can be identified. Their data can be sold by the ad-supported platforms to companies and brands use who use the chopped up data to target their audience.
In web 3 the lack of IRL identification means that creators and brands must really listen to their members and the signals that define their level of participation–did they give you their wallet address? Did they go to an event? Did one member help another member with something?
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.
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Far From Timid covered Cannes Lions 2022 for our magazine and pulled together the top themes we think brands need to prioritize, supported by quotes we heard (and read) at selected sessions from the brands and agencies that inspired us. Then we mashed them up to create cross conversations because ideas cannot happen in a vacuum. For example, we can’t just talk about diversity on its own. We need to talk about diversity as it relates to media buying. Finally, we feature the “truth-bomb” takeaway insights and the award-winning work connected to each part of the series because we can’t make progress if ideology isn’t practiced.