Why Social Token Projects Should Prioritize Community Over Liquidity

Andrew Berkowitz of Socialstack shares why he's building towards a world of gratitude and abundance for social token communities.

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Listen on: Spotify | Apple Podcast | Google Podcast

Background

Mint Season 2 episode 4 welcomes CEO and Co-founder of Socialstack Andrew Berkowitz. He’s building a protocol to power mission-driven social token economies on the blockchain that are backed by gratitude and abundance.

In this episode, we talk about

  • What determines the success of social token communities
  • Debunking social token myths
  • How to derive initial liquidity
  • Andrew shares predictions for where the space will be in 5 to 10 years
  • Socialstack’s vision

…and so much more

I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Thank you to Season 2’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise – https://coinvise.co/

2. POAP – https://poap.xyz/

3. Socialstack – https://socialstack.co/

4. Celo – https://celo.org/

5. PrimeDAO – https://www.prime.xyz/

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


You’re building something really cool at Socialstack. So why don’t we just get right into it? Give me a quick brief about yourself and specifically tell me. What were you doing before crypto and kind of what you’re doing now?

Yeah. So my previous company was actually a podcast media company. So I graduated from Virginia tech in 2015 and kind of in the years after school, I spent that going down the entrepreneur startup routes and kind of my main thing was I started a podcast called the global startup movement and it was really something that evolved from me, just interviewing a different entrepreneur in a different city every week. To me, acting more as an independent media company and really focusing on finding the biggest issues in emerging market tech and innovation industries, finding the people closest to those issues and just bringing them on the podcast. 

And so that kind of grew into a whole portfolio of brands. Our two flagship podcasts for that company were African tech Roundup, which focused on Africa’s digital transformation journey and the global startup movement. Which was kind of broader emerging market tech and innovation focused. And really the core of that journey for me, it was just living the early stage of the creator economy because we had these two pretty traction podcasts. We had a really high quality niche audience for both of them. I found it very difficult to extract meaningful commercial value from the podcast. And so I lived kind of all the challenges of being a creator in the early days of the creator economy starting to take shape. And so a lot of that experience kind of plays into now my ideas and vision for what Socialstack is starting to become. 

And, you know, I think that as a creator, COVID accelerated a lot and kind of, you know, made it so that we now have viable business models that, you know, creators can even expand what they’re doing beyond just a lifestyle business, into something more scalable. And now that we have these new tools, these new web three tools NFTs and social token there’s kind of additional layer now that or additional toolkit that co creators have to work with to really get their audience in more skin in the game with what they’re building make their audience feel like owners as well and get them more engaged. So the, you know, vision for Socialstack was really on the back end of me spending five years building that podcast company. 

I know you guys are really big on the mission-driven side of social tokens, and we’ll get into that in just a sec because you touched upon that for a minute. But, I want to learn more about how you got into crypto. Like, what’s that story? Everybody has a unique kind of way in. What’s yours? 

Yeah. I mean, mine was pretty simple just back in college, you know, 2014, my junior year at Virginia tech just came across Bitcoin. That was when it was around like $600 just from some friends actually talking about it. So steam it by Dan Larimer, he built steam it, I believe in the Blacksburg corporate innovation center. And so there was kind of like, there’s this interesting blockchain community that’s in Blacksburg, Virginia that most people wouldn’t really be aware of. They don’t know it. That was my initial foray into Bitcoin. And so it was just very much so, just like the kind of college kids in a dorm room talking about it. And so I didn’t have that much money when I tell people, oh, I, you know, I got into Bitcoin back in like 2013, 2014, like, you know, I was a college kid. I didn’t have that much money to come in with, to the space with, but it really caught my fascination. Yeah. Been thinking deeply about the space for many years now. And even with the podcast company, a lot of the content that we covered was, you know, crypto blockchain focused, especially within an Africa context.

A lot of people tend to confuse the difference between NFTs and social tokens. Some even call social tokens, NFTs, right? Some people categorize social tokens as fungible and non fungible. How do you kind of think about the two and their differences and their similarities?

Well, I mean, I think they’re both in the same category in my mind, but they’re both different tools for how our creator or a community leader can actually you know, leverage the blockchain technology to start to provide some tangible ways to start to facilitate this process of earning and redeeming back and forth between themselves and their community. So I think finally blockchain has the tangible interfaces and tools where it’s now useful for the creator economy. And we’re seeing the initial use case of art kind of playing out over the past year with that. But you know, it’s, it’s at its core. It’s as simple as you just said, NFTs are non fungible tokens and social tokens are fungible tokens. And each in my mind will enable different components of the creator stack that’s forming in web. You know, I think NFTs are able to facilitate things that are unique items from content that the creator is producing to one-off event tickets or private like, you know, one off concerts conferences that you know, platforms like popup are currently able to facilitate. And then the social tokens really, the way we view it at Socialstack is it’s a way for an issuer, a creator, a community leader, a brand. To connect deeper with their community. And that really is a way it’s a whole new dynamic of community where the most active community members are going to achieve ownership in the community over time, simply by engaging and earning.

What are some of the more interesting, I guess, utility incentives you’ve seen kind of be driven through social tokens to date, anything specific come to mind?

I mean, there are a few early use cases on the Socialstack platform that have emerged that are really compelling and kind of speak to our kind of vision of where social token should go, which is you know, this is not a technology where we’re building something for humans to be traded like a stock market. That’s like that shouldn’t be, that’s not the vision. That’s not the future that I want to create for my kids. 

That’s very much like a BitClout vision, Right?

Yeah. And you know, not to knock on what someone else is doing in this space. It’s like, I think we need multiple visions playing out in the space and then people can choose, you know, whichever culture community vision of the future that they want align themselves with. But really the tangible use cases that have emerged on the platform. I think there are three key ones. The first is an ecolodge, actually an indigenous owned ecolodge that’s based in equity. That’s basically using the social token as a way to reward people for coming to the Amazon and like doing experiences at the retreat center. They’re currently building out the next phase, which is building learning modules where people can learn more about the tribe, about the indigenous tribe, their culture, their practices, their traditions, and you can start to earn some of the social token in that way. Now on the flip side, you can redeem it for heavily discounted experiences at the ecolodge. And so it’s a really compelling use case for how a region can unlock ecotourism assets to create a socially driven means of exchange that might be even more stable than some of the Fiat currencies that are in some of these emerging economies. And, you know, a lot of them are pretty heavily reliant on the US dollar to kind of operate. And so it’s a really competitive use case and like there’s really exciting ways that, or really exciting directions that can go in. 

That’s probably one of the most exciting use cases that I’ve heard personally. That’s the first time I’m hearing about it because there’s actual practicality behind it, right. It’s not mere speculation and it’s not just being rewarded for committing an action. Like you’re actually building an entire economy from this token, which is super interesting. But my question to you is. Where does this liquidity come from? How do they kind of think about that? Do they pump and create their own like uniswap pools for this liquidity, for their new social token ? Like how do they think about that? 

Well, so that token is actually on Celo . Ubeswap is a fork of Uniswap that’s cellos, EVM compatible. You know, altered it. And so all Celo based tokens are traded actually on Uniswap or excuse me, Ubeswap. So liquidity is an interesting conversation in the space right now. I mean, both for social tokens and for NFTs, but specifically social tokens. It’s such an early stage of the asset class that most social tokens don’t have liquidity. And really the only liquidity comes from, us you know, the issuer setting up their own liquidity pool on Uniswap then adding liquidity to it and so that’s like, you know, V1 just reflective of how early of a nature of you know, of a rat in the space. You know, other players are looking at bonding curves and like, that’s something we’re actually exploring internally at Socialstack, as well. As, you know, when you put a token on a bonding curve, it’s a price discovery mechanism where the price and supply goes up, as people buy the coin and the price and supply go down along the curve as people sell the coin and so bonding curves are a really interesting way for a social token to kind of launch itself into the world with tangible liquidity. But I think right now people should be thinking about this space as, you know, ownership in the community network. And so the successful social tokens will eventually become DAOs. I think Alex Masmej said on Twitter, like social tokens and DAOs are one in the same and that’s true. Like any social token that gains traction will eventually come and become a full fully fledged DAO. And so liquidity will happen naturally in the long run. In the short term, people should be thinking about these things as either a reward point system on steroids or as kind of the ability to earn ownership in a DAO and you should be thinking long-term of holding these social tokens. And I think, you know, even the ones that do have traction right now, like friends with benefits. They’re not people who aren’t thinking about speculation right now. They’re thinking about long-term holding the social tokens, something, you know, being a part of something bigger.

Right? How do you advise creators that want to go more towards the bonding curve route versus the linear route? How do you think about that at Socialstacks? 

Hmm. I mean, that’s a great question. I think that right now I would really focus more on like the fixed supply. Like, you don’t need liquidity right now. Like what you need is the initial, like people buying into the community because you, at the end of the day, like what is going to need to happen in order for your social token to be successful is you need brand ambassadors. You need to activate community identify and then activate community leaders that like really step up and take on an ownership role and start to become active in the DAO that is early in starting form. And so if you’re thinking of social tokens as like a new way that you’re gonna make money, like you’re not, you’re not thinking about it correctly right now because of the reality of where social tokens are. I think what bonding curves introduce it’s a shortcut to liquidity and it’s a shortcut to, to like that mindset, but I’m not the biggest fan right now of immediately putting a social token on a bonding curve. I think that it’s something that will come over time with the maturity of the space and the maturity and the tooling in the space, but right now you should be thinking about your social token as a way to incentivize the behavior that you want to see in your community and the most engaged members of your most engaged fans, the most engaged participants of the community that you already have, and that you’re continuing to grow. You know, they’re really, they’re going to rise to the top by earning the most token and then over time. You’re gonna, that’s going become apparent and the ones that really believe in your core mission as a community, like those are the ones, if you’re doing the fixed token supply routes, like those are the ones that are really going to be sticking around in the long run versus, you know, the kind of the emotion of speculation, which isn’t really, it’s not what we’re going for here.

Would you agree or disagree that every token that’s publicly listed on these markets is in one way or another, a social token to an extent? 

I saw Jess Sloss tweeted that. I think that’s a little much, cause like, to me, the core, like innovation here with the social token component is like we finally have a cryptocurrency, a token mechanism where the value is derived solely by the underlying community, by the underlying social capital that the community brings to the table versus the traditional, like, you know crypto model, which is the values derived from the, from the technical component, from the network and the network activity, the transaction the technical component of the token. Obviously speculation will always be there. But I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think a social based currency is the trajectory of the social token space. And so I think that there has to be some sort of distinction away from like the technology component. The technology component is like the toolkit that you use to facilitate things like transfer, poking around, but like the value of Bitcoin or ether, like it’s derived from the technology and the network. Not necessarily like the social, you know, completely driven by the social value. 

But then on the other side, you could argue that Ethereum’s community is like what drives a lot of the value and a lot of the participation and innovation. From the diehard Maxis that kind of rally and push the price and et cetera, et cetera. Right. So it does have that social element to it. Right. And I think maybe that’s where he was coming from, that every single token has this social aspect, right. That has this, I guess, this, this point of engagement where you need the community to drive that engagement and with Ethereum you do have your incentives while you probably don’t get I guess, rewarded for necessarily joining a discord. Right. And you get an X amount of tokens for doing so, like you do in all these other social token communities, right? But it has that social token component, but just a interesting statement.

I partly agree with that. Like, like the value and the reason when people tell me, like, this is an Ethereum killer, that’s an Ethereum killer because of like technology. It’s like that’s nonsense. Like the moat, a big part of the moat of Ethereum is the culture. It’s the community that forms around it. And so of course, like that is present in things, but like it’s only one core component. Whereas when I say social tokens, like they’re like the technology, isn’t what drives the value of any given social token. It’s the underlying social capital and you know, the value of the community there. And, you know, the market opportunities that the issuer is opening up for the token. And so I get what you and Jess are saying there, but it’s more like a social token maxi versus like, yeah like every cryptocurrency has some sort of social component. 

I want to talk more about Socialstack for a minute. We kind of touched upon the whole mission driven piece that’s core to Socialstack and the direction you and your team want to go toward. 

Yeah. So you, you cut out there a little bit, but I think I got the gist of that. So you know, really there’s in my mind there’s a couple of different versions of how social tokens are emerging and how people think about it. One is kind of what we talked about that BitClout model of you know, this is about trading people like a stock market and speculating on people in that way. I don’t feel aligned with that feature at all. That’s not the future I want to help. And the other, you know, the other end of that spectrum and the direction that Socialstack is heading in is social tokens are, you know, this is a way for a community to connect deeper within itself. You know, this is a way to really create something that’s founded upon gratitude and abundance, not on scarcity and fear, which is, I think a lot of what drives the blockchain space and like that scarcity component, like right. There is value in scarcity and I get that and we also need other systems and other tools where we can build economies where gratitude, abundance love is like the core of how these economies function. And that’s where I think social social tokens need to sit in the kind of stack of like different types of cryptocurrencies. And so Socialstack right now is focused on two components. There’s the roadmap of our product. And then there’s the roadmap of what we say, consciousness or culture. And so as we build the toolkit, the wallet, the community engagement app that we have as we build out the tools to actually run these social token economies and give that to people, we also need the kind of consciousness shift as a culture, as a society towards this concept of, you know, these mediums of exchange are about connecting deeper with each other about like a creator, rewarding their fans with that emotion of gratitude. And the fans reward, like giving back to the creator with, with that same emotion. And so we’re, we’re, we’re constantly asking ourselves, like how can we build tools? Whether it’s tools for gifting tools, for rewarding, specific kind of engagement, that’s a positive impact on the planet and the community like that’s how we’re thinking about things. So the current iteration of Socialstack we have kind of three core technology components that are the first part of our product roadmap and that’s the social token launch pad where we can issue tokens on either the open Ethereum or on other blockchains. We have our Socialstack wallet, which is a non-custodial wallet with email accounts and password recovery. And so there’s a little we don’t have to go in to this on the podcast obviously, but there’s a technical innovation we’ve put forward of how we create a noncustodial wallet with email accounts and essentially that wallet now is multi chain. So we’ve listed Ethereum based social tokens and Celo based social tokens. And we’ve built a Ethereum to Celo bridge workflow, which allows us to conduct all internal transactions from one Socialstack wallet to another, on the Celo blockchain. And so that makes the wallet very carbon friendly allows us to provide instant transactions and the most important is, there’s no gas fees because all of it runs on the Celo blockchain and there’s very minimal gas fees that we’re able as Socialstack to abstract from the user and so we’ve solved a couple of key challenges around social tokens ones right now with the wallet, which is a simple email based accounts to send and receive and then no gas fees. And then the final component in the toolkit is our Socialstack community app which basically facilitates that earning and redemption where an issuer can basically create community tasks for their community to reward them with tokens when they do complete it and then there’s a storefront where they can put NFTs or products for sale that can only be bought with the issuer’s social token. And so we’ve basically built out this toolkit right now that is reflective of where social tokens are right now and we’re slowly going to put out our roadmap and our vision for where this goes as social tokens, as an asset class, gain more liquidity and get more mature. 

It’s super cool and one thing that I love that you even sell or you’re doing you’re so creator centric, right? You’re so creator focused. Like you said, you’re innovating on the wallet side from an email based web client type of wallet. Right. You’re innovating also on a few other features, but one thing that came to mind that I’ve learned from your team, that you guys basically collabed on this way to prove a listenership for audio and reward creators based on that. Can you talk a little bit more about that? 

ATR U is actually the first Celo-based social token that we launched on Socialstack . And so it’s the social token of the African tech Roundup podcast, which is currently the leading tech podcast in Africa covering the tech industry and so that was the podcast that I built with my partner at my previous company. But now he runs that full time. He’s based in Johannesburg, South Africa as a Zimbabwean broadcaster broadcasting about business and tech in Africa for many years now. And so they’ve implemented something that they’re calling proof of play on the Celo blockchain. And so what they’re doing is they’re allowing listeners to earn their social token every time that they listened to an episode. And right now it’s, it’s a very, it’s it’s, you know, it’s MVP form. So I bet. So right now it’s, it’s being run through essentially a Google form. And they are doing payouts at the end of every month to listeners that prove through the Google form there’s a password in the middle of every episode. And so you have to listen to the episode, they put it at a different point every single time. And then you register that password in the Google form to show that you actually listened to that episode, and then you can earn some tokens. And so it’s a really valuable way for the podcast to do a couple of things. One is Any listener that signs up, you know, they have to register their Celo address. They have to register their email, their name, and a lot of questions that kind of help them identify more about this listener. And now they can see which episodes the listeners tuning into which episodes are actually mining, you know, the token through this Google form method and it’s a really powerful way to get the to have the most engaged listeners kind of rise to the top. Then the people that have the most tokens are going to be the ones that listened to the most episodes. And then on the flip side, they’re setting up all sorts of unique ways for the listeners to actually redeem the social token. So they’re reserving ad space that can only be bought with their social token. They’re reserving podcasts, consulting time from the host that, you know, can only be redeemed with a social token and they’re creating and establishing a network of African tech conferences where you’re going to need to hold a minimum balance of ATR U in any Celo based wallet and show that that you hold it there and you can receive discounts to a whole network of different African tech conferences. And so it’s a really compelling use case. You know how a podcast or cause it can again like use this technology to really deepen their relationship with their fans and allow the most engaged fans to kind of rise to the top. Because as a fan of your favorite podcaster like you want to be seen, like you, you want them to know that you’re really deeply connected with them and a part of their community. And they listened to every, every week or month or however long you, you put the, you put the episode out. And so it’s a really compelling use case.

You know what that reminds me of there’s this producer and a songwriter. His name is Harrison first. He has a social token, first. He was also on season one of mint and he did something similar with his songs where he basically rewards people who engage with his music and play with his music library, blah, blah, blah, long story short. Right. He basically tweeted. He’s like for those who can tell me how many times I mentioned this word in this song which proves that basically they listened to the song, right get an X amount of first tokens or get rewarded with a certain amount of things. Right. Which is, it’s a very similar use case, but how do you streamline that? How do you make that process less manual, I guess. And more, I guess, automatic, have you guys thought about that? Cause it’s such a powerful solution.

Yeah. I mean that, and that’s like one of the, I guess, core questions right now in the entire space, because there’s a lot of like, there’s a lot of developers. There are some people that have launched a social token and are kind of like, you know, operating and testing it out and feeling out. There’s definitely a connection, like a disconnect between the two of those, which is like developer, like actual, useful tools getting built and like what social token issuers need and like you know, we were a part of the last seed club cohort, and like, you know, even within seed club, there’s like still this dynamic of the tool kit that exists right now is so early that a lot of what we want to like enable, like it has to be like the manual process. And so for us, like, you know, with the podcast, we are thinking of like, what’s the most simple tool that we can build that would enable the broadest range of like, like use cases and uses. We’re actually thinking a little bit more on the reverse of the earning side, which is creating a way for a token permission to RSS feed, basically where, you know, this, this concept of like holding minimum balances of token in your wallet in order to unlock, you know, access tiers. That’s a really compelling use case for a podcast, or if they’re able to create different RSS feeds that you need different levels of token unlock access to which means you publishing Mint. Like you need to, you know, maybe hold a hundred Mint tokens to unlock the ad free RSS feed. And maybe there’s another RSS fee that you need a thousand Mint tokens and that will unlock, you know, an additional episode per week or month or whatever you want to enable there. So right now, I think again, there’s social tokens, 2021, and there are social tokens, 2025. Right. What do we need to build now where we can actually meet the market where it’s at versus like building for the future. And so, like, that’s solely what we’re thinking about right now. Like that’s simple use case of token permission in that RSS. 

We’ll get to the question where, what is a 2025 and 2030 kind of look like for you and Socialstack. Do you think mission-driven communities can reach let’s say like a, a billion dollar valuation? Do you think that’s a real world scenario for a social token community? That’s mission driven, right? That’s very social driven in a sense. Can they reach a billion dollar valuation?

Yes. Not for a little while I think. I don’t think any, I don’t think any social token community, even like the, the number one should reach a billion dollars right now. There’s not enough value in the space right now. It’s like to, to justify something like that, maybe in the next bull run in 2024 2025 , we’ll get there. But when, when we say mission-driven, you know, what, what we think about in this space is like, Social token communities it’s a way to align co-creative efforts and align people around a specific mission that the community wants to achieve together. And I think that that’s where we need to go with this space. And so an example of that is a surfboard company. I can’t name the company name yet because they haven’t announced it, but they’re basically going to be using their social token solely as a way to incentivize people to participate in ocean beach, cleanup days, plant mangroves. And do a lot of behavior around recycling and environmental cleanup. And then on the flip side, you know, the community can redeem those tokens for heavily discounted surfboards. Right. And so when we say mission-driven, it’s a question of what are you, what behavior are you incentivizing with your token? And like that will over time, start to align the community’s behavior towards accomplishing meaningful missions. And so I wouldn’t like, and so mission driven isn’t necessarily like a you’re not putting barriers around what the community can become. It’s just. Kind of psychologically framing, social tokens in a way where it’s like this is a really meaningful technology where people can come around and connect with each other and have economic incentives towards accomplishing meaningful things that we all know need to get done but currently aren’t getting done. So it’s like a little bit, if you, if you’re familiar with Charles Eisenstein, synchronet economics concept, like we’re as a team, we’re definitely inspired by that. And like, we want money to be just like a new framing of money where it’s something more meaningful than just, you know, a piece of paper that someone that somebody else says has value.

I have a hard time, you know, part of me sees like all these like micro-economies there’s this article that Cooper Turley and Kinjal from blockchain capital wrote on how crypto is birthing all these micro-economies, right. And how it’s going to be partly driven through these social token networks and whatnot and I have a hard time imagining what a billion dollar network may look like, what, what that’s going to be driven by, right. Who are going to be the key participants, how decentralized it’s going to be, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So by asking that question, I’m really just looking to see, like, how do you envision that? How does Socialstack envision that right. Is this a situation? Where is this going to be like a product-driven type of social token, right? Where it reaches a billion dollar valuation, because it has a lot of revenue and it has a team and it’s set up in a way where it’s able to drive profits, et cetera. You know what I mean? Like, yeah. How do you kind of see that? Do you see these social tokens being more social communities? Do you see them being more product driven communities do you see them more service driven communities driven by social tokens powered and framed through social tokens? Like how do you kind of think about that?

So, I mean, that’s a great question. So first answer is, it seems that NFTs are going to be the drivers of social token economies and the like, however that’s facilitated. I think, you know, I think it’s going to be facilitated in a way where. You have some sort of connective tissue, some sort of theme or some sort of mission that aligns all the participants co-creative efforts around. And so like an example that I’ve been thinking about for a while no, one’s really doing like, imagine if there was a solar punk social token and it was a central aggregator for artists to contribute solar punk-themed music art movies, media and there was a whole structure of auctioning, like a whole system for auctioning a system for corporates to interface with the DAO and get services from it. So I think, you know, where we’re going into a world and I’m more bullish on community-based and community-driven, social tokens than other forms of social tokens. But I think we’re going into a world where DAOs will be aggregators of talent. And people will contract with the DAO. The Dow will provide people on the contracting side with work. So they’ll, you know, be companies startups, other DAOs, that contract with a specific DAO that has like proved their core competency of a specific task theme. Ability to complete a search, a certain mission. So I think the compelling billion-dollar DAOs come in the form of broad community-based DAOs that have proven their ability to create differentiated products and services in some sort of area where there’s a lot of demand. And then there’s a bunch of revenue coming in by other outside parties contracting with that DAO =. That sort of, you know, social-driven DAO is where I see things going on the community token side. And then there’s gonna be all sorts of like smaller instances, smaller versions of that that are maybe like brand tokens, where it starts off just as like a reward point system on steroids but then eventually it turns into something where the brands that are honest about their value will attract people that want to participate in that. And so I, I mean, to be honest, you know, I don’t think anyone who tells you that they have any idea where the space is going is being honest, just because we’re still at such an early stage that like, you know, the direction that this space goes in is whatever we as like the active builders in it, Where it goes in, you know? And so I would love to hear your ideas on it. Cause I don’t know. 

You know, like some of the top social token projects that come to mind are, like you said, friends with benefits. Another good one that comes to mind is $ALLIE. Even though it’s not in the billion-dollar range, nowhere near, I’m just thinking about an individual creator going public and launching a token on behalf of their brand for their audience and building interesting utility frameworks that incentivize buying and selling of that token. Allie comes to mind because she realizes that, okay I do something really well and that’s game. I play games, I livestream it and my fans love it. Let’s try to take it one step further and let’s try to do gaming tournaments. And the only way to access those gaming tournaments is with $ALLIE coin. You win, you spend and you earn an $ALLIE coin, right. And you start off small, but then you scale. And then you’re seeing her kind of develop her social token now into more of a modern day fan club through her DAO. So I don’t know if they’re going to be necessarily like individually driven right through these individual creatives. Like imagine if Justin Bieber had his own social token and he was doing really cool, unique concert utility or fan club merch utility or whatever it may be that he’s doing to incentivize. The buying and selling, like I see a huge network effect between that or if Kylie Jenner were to launch her own social token and assuming we’re five, 10 years from now and her fans understand crypto and they’ve onboarded and they have wallets, whatever. I could see her breaching hundreds of millions of dollars in valuation for her token, if she constructed her network and her flow and her funnel correctly, you know, I could definitely see that.

That’s like the core piece of it because there are celebrities that have gone into, you know, quote-unquote, have gotten into the social token space, you know, like Lil Yachty comes to mind. And like, that is a, it’s a textbook example of like, What not to do. That’s very inappropriate, the way he’s gone about it. And it’s like the antithesis of what we’re looking to do in the space. Like this isn’t about this, isn’t a new way for you to make more money off your fans. This is a way for you to connect deeper with your fans in a meaningful way and when I see celebrities just straight up selling their social token and then not really following up, like it’s very inappropriate and it I think points to a larger trend that’s happening, that I actually realized with the podcast company, which is the death of the celebrity and the death of like the ability for celebrity to just like, have that like aura about them, where they can just do things and get away with it. Whereas in this new world, like where now in a world where the community convener has completely replaced the celebrity and anyone that doesn’t properly fulfill that role they’re not gonna, nothing that to do is going to be sustainable. Yeah. 

When you think about funnel or funnels, the way I explain this to creators, they have to completely reimagine what marketing communication kind of looks like on their end through Instagram, take talk Twitter. Everything that they do now needs to be centered around their token to an extent. They have to for the events that they have to the music they release, they have to completely reimagine this funnel. Would you agree or disagree? Like how, how do they kind of go by marketing and incentivizing people to buy into this without doing literally Lil Yachty’s case case? How do you think creators should be thinking about their funnel?

Well, I think it’s a question of what behavior is the highest value behavior that they want their community members to take. Like, do they want them to subscribe to their email newsletter? Like, do they want them to retweet something? Do they want them to join their private membership community where they meet every month on zoom? Like, like what are the highest value actions that your community members can take? And then you want to incentivize that behavior with token reward. So at this like most core and basic, like that’s really the answer. Like that’s how you incorporate tokens in your funnel. And then beyond that, how can you get creative? So one of we’re talking to a creator right now, a big YouTuber that does a lot of challenges. Like they, their audience, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like comment below on what you want us to do in the next video and their, their fans basically comment. Like I want you to eat 20 hotdogs in two minutes, like some, some crazy challenge. And then each video they do challenges. And so for them, we’re talking about, okay, let’s flip that on its head. You give challenges to your fans, whether it’s, you know, clean up your neighborhood, your neighbor heard park cook a bunch of meals for the homeless, you know, do, do something good. And then you can earn token rewards by recording it, putting it on Twitter with a hashtag. And then submit that, you know you can submit on the the Socialstack community app. We have a feature where you can set tasks and then upload proof that you completed the task. It’s like, that’s a really compelling way for a market, like a viral marketing campaign, leveraging your fans to have them complete meaningful tasks, give them token rewards for completing it. And then they’re all tweeting it out and going viral themselves. Right. And so like, that’s a really compelling way to leverage tokens in your marketing strategy. On Socialstack community, we also have the ability to create influencer links where you can tie token rewards to that link. And so now, instead of like creating a doing an influencer campaign where you get 10 influencers and pay them thousand dollars or like, you know, paying them whatever. Now you can give them a link or they can earn your social token for each time that they drive. And so it’s, it’s really like the possibilities are endless. You’re only really limited by the tools that you have at your disposal right now. And your imagination.

Do you think that’s going to actually be done? Are they open to that or are they scared to mess with crypto? 

No, not at all. I mean we have had conversations where creators are scared to mess with crypto. I think this past year of NFTs has removed that barrier for most creators.

I wanna ask you what was the most important thing you’ve kind of been taught throughout this process of starting Socialstack?

Well, I would say the most important thing is just like getting a full scope and awareness of how early we are. It’s pretty crazy. Just like the conversations I have with like some creators, the deep dive I’ve done into the space when it comes to like what open source tools even exist right now to like, enable this stuff. Like it continues to like, bewilder me of just how early we are . Which is both good and bad, right? Like the nature of crypto is like the earlier you get into the space, the more you’ll reap the rewards. And so it’s a, you know, it’s a double-edged sword, but like that’s a continued just like, whoa, like we’re so early, I would say that’s the core thing. And then the other thing is just like you know, with my podcast company, I was kind of a sole creator. I had a team, but a team of freelancers that I would, you know, just kind of on demand use. And so me and my capacity as a leader, like I’m learning a lot, just how to kind of lead a team, set examples for my behavior. Always be very impeccable with my word and, you know, just really think deeply about some of the ideals in the crypto space of decentralization, personal sovereignty. And how do you strike a balance between. You know, a leadership team of a project really you know, guiding it in the way that, you know is going to be beneficial for the culture, the brand, the community, versus just, you know, it’s a DAO . Go ahead, community, whatever you want, you know, so there’s a balance to be struck there. And it’s definitely an ongoing learning process for the team. 

Who would you say are like the three most influential people that have kind of inspired you throughout this process? Do any come to mind? 

Hmm. I would say Jess Sloss from seed club, for sure. Like he is somebody who is like, absolutely impeccable with his word. I’ve never really seen anything from him where there’s like been a disparity between his word and his action, like. And that’s very important too. Like there’s very important in the crypto space, and you don’t see that that much, to be honest, like there’s a lot of people in the crypto space that they didn’t earn their money through truth and wisdom over time, they just participated in the Ethereum crowd sale and that shows in the way that they manage the money, the way that they act. And so whenever I see someone that is very impeccable with their word and the space and always follows up on what they say they’re gonna do. Like, I respect that so much and I only see that from Jess. So that’s definitely the first one. Let’s see. I mean, I’ve really like what the entire friends with benefits team has done. Like, I think they’ve set in, in my opinion, they’re the only successful social token that is, in existence. And we can go into that if you want, but I think what Cooper, like, it’s so funny that there’s, there’s that meme of like those, like the Scooby-Doo mean meme of like, like pulling off the mask of like and when you research any successful doubts, For some reason and Cooper’s behind it. Like you always get to the point where it’s like, oh, Cooper of course, Cooper launched this. So I think he’s someone who’s had a really deep vision for where the space is going to go. And I really appreciate everything that he’s done for the space, just by setting an example. And then let’s see, I would say probably Alex Masmej is another one who’s like clearly a super young entrepreneur, but what he’s done was Showtime is really, really impressive. And obviously he is one of the pioneers in the concept of launching a personal token. But I’ve been impressed just watching him from afar of like how he’s really navigated and stepped up into a leadership capacity with Showtime.

Can you talk more about the friends with benefits point that you brought up?

Yeah, I mean look, I don’t feel, I don’t know. I don’t know any whale. Like I felt, I feel like it started off where the draw was that you’re earning dividends or like you’re there like earning and sharing in like the vault of whale. But they’ve kind of shied away from that because that’s a huge, like, secure, like, obviously it’s a security risk if you do that. So I feel like there’s kind of like the stale phase of that community where it’s not really clear. And so I don’t really consider that a successful social token. I don’t feel like there’s a genuine community that’s formed around it other than token go up. So that’s my opinion there. And I think friends with benefits have just like really set the standard in every single way. Like the party that they did in Miami at Miami Bitcoin week, I was there and I was like, whoa, like, this is, this is real. This is going to take social token and obviously friends with benefits to the next level, like, and it did, and they did a similar one in Paris, which I would love to hear your opinion of, because I wasn’t able to make it.

What do you feel like is a common myth about social tokens that you’re trying to debunk? If any? 

I mean, I think the main one is just that it’s not like a real, there’s nothing real there. And like, like the people that say that, like, like. They don’t have vision. They don’t, they don’t see where it’s going. Like if you’re looking at the social token space right now and like judging it for like the snapshot in its current existence, like sure, that’s fair, but you have to have a vision for where this can go and, and is going and I was a part of that, you know, it’s very important that people with integrity really step up and take leadership positions within the sphere. Because there’s you know, there’s no saying where it’s going to go. Like, maybe it’s quite possible that by 2030, we’re all just traded like a stock market, you know, like that’s quite, it’s quite possible. That’s the vision of social tokens that actually wins out. I’m building and I know many other people in the space are building so that that’s not the reality that we’re building. So…

How do you prevent that?

By building other things by building others. Like this is the one thing I realized in my twenties, like there’s enough there. There’s absolutely nothing for you to fight against out there. Everything is in the air . Every enemy that you perceive out in, like, it’s, it’s something that you have often here. And so there’s nothing to fight against out there. If you feel like there’s something wrong or perverted out there in the world, then you need to take on the responsibility as much as you have the capacity to do, to build better solutions, new solutions that make that obsolete. And if you build something that’s true, honest and a better solution, then people will adopt it. 

What do you think the future of social tokens kind of look like five to 10 years from now? I know you touched upon it briefly, but talk to me more, build that, build that painting for me for a minute.

Well, I think we hit a similar hype cycle to what we’re seeing right now in NFTs. Where you have this kind of mass adoption within a specific subset of the creator economy. So like NFTs right now it’s like artists are like really like getting the full value and brunt of like what NFTs are and can be. And I think over time, we’re going to start to see that bleed over into other areas of the creator economy. But there’s definitely going to be like a, you know, early majority, late majority. Yeah. That, that type of adoption cycle and social tokens are gonna be the same. I think we’re, we’re, you know, we’re NFTs we’re in 2018. We’re close to that point of the adoption cycle of social tokens, if not like, you know, there or a little bit beyond it. But I really think that five to 10 years, social tokens kind of become this, this world of new experimental models of social backed currencies, that in my opinion, should be mediums of exchange and really creates a world where communities, brands, creators with influence are able to incentivize positive behavior and positive action that helped to create a regenerative world that we all want to see. But now we have the economic incentives and. Community-like, community-driven structures to create that. And I think it was Charlie Munger that said, you know, show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome. And so we finally have the tools to come from scratch, create the incentives, create the systems and structures that will result in the outcomes that we want to see, which is regenerative planet uplifting communities and emerging economies and advancing and co-creating together meaningful causes. And I think that that’s where the space is going to go because there are people building towards that and we’re going to win. 

Shout yourself out, where can we find you? Where can we find Socialstack? Give us the whole shebang!

Yeah. So you can find Socialstack at socialstack.co that’s our website. We’re all on every social media, Twitter @TrySocialStack. And then my handle is below @thewitzcarlton it’s like the Ritz call it Carlton, but with a w instead of an R. And that’s definitely the best way to connect with me. And yeah, like super open. We love to hear feedback, like social stack to the extent that we, like, we want this to be a co-creative vehicle. We have kind of a vision for where the product needs to go. And we also have a desire and a vision for where the culture and the community needs to go. And we want to kind of co-create that with the initial creators on the platform and with the initial community that actually engages. So join our discord, the links on our Twitter handle. And we’d love to see you guys there. 

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