Posted on: September 22, 2022
The online world is changing. Web3 is here, powered by millennials and Gen Zers who are morphing the internet into a more interactive playing field for all of us. As publicists and marketers, our new challenge is to change with the times and advance our usage of online technologies. We need to keep up with the rest of the world since there is a new age of consumers with new demands. There is a new age of clients, meaning that our client service will have to look different.
Web 1.0 was not much more advanced than television. It was not a very interactive medium. Websites dating back to the 1990s came across as extremely flat, with minimal opportunities for user interactivity. Trust me: They seemed like pieces of paper turned digital—very, very basic stuff.
In the early 2000s, Web 2.0 shifted to user interactivity. Whereas Web 1.0 was more static, Web 2.0 enhanced connectivity through social media platforms, public forums, wikis and much more. Websites and applications leveraged user-generated content for everyday consumers—from Myspace and Twitter to Wikipedia, which now attracts billions of global visitors each month (including editors who curate content).
Now comes Web3, the next phase of the internet. Emerging relatively recently and still evolving, Web3 includes new forms of commerce. Take, for example, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) like digital artwork or virtual tickets to events. Think blockchain. To quote entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk: “In Web3, the blockchain allows you to own it. That’s why BitcoinBTC0.0% was a big thing. You actually own those bitcoins. NFTs, you own these digital pictures and art.”
Or consider Roblox, the gaming platform that already draws tens of millions of young users. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of daily active Roblox users exploded by 170%. Through Roblox, children these days are empowered to exchange items and earn money in the so-called metaverse. My friend Julene’s son Patrick, who is 10 years old, tried to teach me how to play Roblox when we were at their ski condo last winter. I was somewhat flummoxed by it, figuring out how to win or even just score points. It’s definitely not like playing Candy Land, which was popular when I was a kid!
But playing with Patrick taught me a valuable lesson: The target audience is changing. The end user is evolving. Millennials and Gen Zers are forcing PR professionals and marketing gurus to target people in different ways. Those who don’t adjust will get lost in the shuffle. Their methods will become antiquated if they’re not already.
As we develop PR and marketing strategies for clients, we need to brainstorm new ways to engage target audiences through Web3. Perhaps it means educating consumers about NFTs through updated talking points. Maybe it means connecting clients with news outlets that cover Web3 on a daily basis. Such publications may be more interesting to young consumers than traditional newspapers like the Wall Street Journal or cable news networks like CNN.
Here’s another example: My agency is currently working on a strategic communications plan for a local chamber of commerce, and we are developing strategies and tactics to engage younger business owners. The younger crowd may not prefer traditional “meet-and-greet” events, so we’re helping the chamber of commerce promote new-age meetings that make small-business owners in their 20s and 30s feel more comfortable. Case in point: the increasing popularity of blockchain conferences, many of them hosted virtually.
Even just bringing up terms like “NFT” or “crypto”—and having a foundational understanding of them—can show clients that you’re on the cutting edge of business. The first step is for publicists and marketers to educate themselves about Web3 and understand the basics to fit them into client service. We don’t need to be experts on blockchain or cryptocurrency (it’s very confusing), but we can learn the general gist. There are countless teaching and training seminars available online.
Don’t be intimidated. In the 1990s, the very concept of a website was intimidating, but people learned to adapt. In the early 2000s, the phrase “social media” was daunting, but people again figured out how to adjust. It takes time to stay up to speed, but human beings are adaptable creatures.
Learn. Be curious. By staying up to date on Web3, you’ll be a much better publicist or marketer because of it.
This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in July 2022.