How Web3 Enables a New Era of User-Generated Content ft. Christina Beltramini

Christina Beltramini, Head of Growth at Lens Protocol, shares insights on empowering creators in Web3 and monetizing user-generated content. We discuss user control over online identity, Lens' developer ecosystem, lessons from TikTok, and more.

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Mint Season 7 Episode 15 welcomes Christina Beltramini, Head of Growth and Chief Scheming Officer at Lens Protocol, to discuss the ever-growing world of web3 social. Throughout our discussion, we cover topics such as online identity, her article highlighting the next era of user-generated content, and Lens Protocol’s plan to empower a wider class of creators and curators. Christina also shares her aspirations for building a better internet, an overview of Lens’ developer ecosystem, and the lessons learned while working at TikTok that she’s applying while building the Lens ecosystem. Furthermore, we dive into the importance of content remixing, the latest developments in the Lens ecosystem, and how creators can monetize their work using Lens.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 06:13 – Opportunities for Creators in Web3 to Address Web2’s Failures
  • 09:28 – User Control Over Online Identity
  • 15:13 – Empowering Fans for Monetization Through UGC 2.0
  • 18:14 – Lens’ Plan to Empower a Wider Class of Curators
  • 19:37 – Getting Started as a Curator on Lens
  • 20:45 – Barriers to Entry for Web2 vs Web3 Native Creators
  • 26:14 – Christina’s Aspirations for Lens and Web3
  • 29:36 – Overview of Lens’ Developer Ecosystem
  • 34:08 – Bringing Web3 Native Creators’ Audience to Lens
  • 35:54 – Lessons from TikTok for Building a New Era of Social Media on Lens
  • 37:18 – Content Remixes in Web3
  • 40:25 – New Experiences and Interactions in the Lens Ecosystem
  • 42:38 – Understanding Currencies’ Role in Growing a Creator’s Community and Monetizing Their Work
  • 45:06 – Creating Content Worth Collecting
  • 46:53 – Outro

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Lens Protocol is an open-source tech stack for building decentralized social networking services. The protocol was developed by the Aave Companies and launched on Polygon in May of 2022. Through Lens, web3 developers can build decentralized social media applications and marketplaces that leverage NFT technology to form a fully composable, user-owned social graph where the connections and interactions between people are owned by individual users and creators rather than established networks. 

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Christina, aka lens protocol, head of growth, aka chief scheming officer, welcome to the podcast, a part of season seven. Super stoked to have you on. How are you feeling?

Christina Beltramini: I’m feeling good. I’m a fan of you from season two. And I’ve got my poll up to prove, it’s an honor to be here today.

I’m honored. I’m genuinely honored. And it’s always like a full circle moment for me, to host people who listen to the podcast on the podcast. So, I’m excited Christina, lens protocol. I’m a big power user. I feel like I’m one of the most follow people on there, somehow by default. And today, I’m really excited to pick your brain on all things lens, all things the creator economy, Tik Tok, and everything in between. How does that sound?

Christina Beltramini: Let’s do it. Let’s do it. And you’re one of the most followed people on lens because you were early right and adopting, testing the technology. So, for all creators, listening to this as well, it always pays to be early.

I completely agree. And we can talk about that too when we talk about Tik Tok. But before we get into that, Christina, give us a quick blurb who are you? What does the world need to know about you? We’ll start there and work our way forward.

Christina Beltramini: Awesome. So besides being chief scheming officer for lens protocol, and the other companies, I’ve got a colored background. So, I started in investment banking, when I graduated and have slowly moved towards the creative economy at the juncture of entertainment, and social media. So worked at Tik Tok for a few years, and title and then at various Hyper grid startups.

So, I know you have your background in investment banking, and music streaming and Tik Tok, working with creators and now crypto native creators, like I’m trying to piece in my mind, how the heck do all those puzzle pieces come together?

Christina Beltramini: I’m not sure what they did at the time, when I was going through the evolution. But I think that’s starting to make a lot more sense now. In general, I’ve always been, you know, very curious. And I’ve wanted to kind of follow my passion. My passion was in finance when I entered the space. And so, I ended up kind of leaving and going to work in consumer tech. But what is ironic right now is that when we’re talking about the creative economy, it’s actually an asset class in itself. So, music IP, you know, creator IP now in the UGC era. So, in a way, it’s all starting to make sense. And everything happens for a reason, I guess.

I completely agree, everything does happen for a reason. And the connection between your financial interests working and Trad fi to now the financial interests and working to crypto enabled creator economy, very much overlap, and you came up with this article called user generated content. 2.0. That was the keyword, right And I feel like a lot of your background is encompassed in that entire blog post, if I’m not mistaken.

Christina Beltramini: Yeah, I think, you know, what we are seeing is that everything we put online has value, right. And when you come from a finance background, you learn about value. But value isn’t just you know, what we’ve traditionally been thinking about value, we all work in a really innovative space being web three, we’re finding new ways to capture value in the digital era. And so when we think about user generated content, and which is really what we’re putting online, and our social capital, that actually has value that we have been earning for someone else being these big tech platforms, and it all kind of comes full circle now, you know, digital culture is valuable, and like, how do we think of that as an asset class? And that really spurred my thinking when it came to, you know, the UGC 2.0 article, because when I was actually at Tik Tok, we started to really test this notion. You know, I worked on a project towards the end of my time there with actually, Bradley Freeman, who works with me now at lens, and we were really trying to figure out, hey, what do people value, you know, the most viral Tik Tok video? So, what is this value worth when you put it out in the open market? And so, the idea that, you know, Tik Tok and Facebook, they all have an understanding of how much that is worth because they placed ads against it. But what if the creator were actually able to monetize that directly? And what is the social capital and value of these assets and this content that we put online?

Are these ideas you developed during your time at Tik Tok towards the end of it working on that campaign with Bradley? Or did these like the realizations happened once you started putting your foot full time into web three?

Christina Beltramini: So, that whole project was premised on the notion of, you know, the value of user generated capital, but I think, you know, thinking through, you know, UGC, 2.0, and what I wrote about, I’ve had a lot of ideas that have developed and really evolved the thinking of what you know, else it, what else it enables, besides just, you know, monetization. So I think UGC 2.0 is actually the social layer of the new internet and it will enable not only better experiences for the creator, but also for us as consumers and how we navigate and discover, you know, our experiences online. So, I would say it was really good 50/50. But when Steny pitched me, you know, the whole idea of lands and he said, do you want to come and build decentralized social, it all made a lot of sense to me based on, you know, understanding the value of you know, the creator economy, but also the risks of that the creator economy has with these big platforms too. So, when I was at Tik Tok, one of the biggest questions that I got asked was, can you get me unbanned? And funnily enough, I am actually locked out of my Tik Tok account. And that is, because when I was multitasking, I updated my age, and it thinks I’m three years old, because I got prompted to do it. And now I’m meaningless. But I’m not a big creator, right? 

Now imagining three years old, three-year-old Christina like, that’s all it’s in my mind right now.

Christina Beltramini: I’m seeing a lot of pet videos, my locked-out account, I have a locked down experience. So, I can DM anyone and I’m very restricted in terms of what I’m able to view. But you know, it’s three months in, and I still haven’t gotten my account back up and running. And I’m reaching out to people internally that I know to try and fast track it. And it’s not easy. And you think about creators that have built their entire livelihoods on one or two platforms, like this is a significant risk.

Opportunities for Creators in Web3 to Address Web2’s Failures

Right. Whenever I get the pleasure and the luxury of being able to talk to Christina and pick your brain, I’m always fascinated between the bridges of web two, and web three, specifically, what web two messed up on that web three aims to solve. And throughout our conversation last like eight minutes or so we’ve touched upon different elements throughout the conversation. But if we could focus for a minute, you have this incredibly valuable experience working for Tik Tok, and you were there during key moments of its growth. And now you’re seeing the key moments of web three socials growth, what are the opportunities that we have as builders, entrepreneurs, creators, to fix in web three that web two fail at?

Christina Beltramini: What we’re seeing now is that the tides are turning, with the creator economy and people actually understand the value of owning their own content, it’s not necessarily about Rachel lacks, that isn’t what it’s for, what is important, it’s really about depth. And I think as builders and as creators, the fact that we no longer need to optimize for the ad industry. And the word influence was really targeted towards, you know, advertising, right, because it means reach and CPMs, but readjusting our thinking towards depth and ownership. And in my mind, the rise of Tik Tok was really a new value proposition for creators, to really start from scratch and deliver kind of a new participatory experience with their audiences. So, Tik Tok taught us that we want to participate with our favorite creators. And what we’ve learned now, is we act they actually we want to participate. But we also want to own our experiences and have more control. And I think that’s really important when we think about building this kind of like next juncture of web three social.

My thesis is that your community of collectors will outpace your community of followers, over time exponentially. And I think there’s more value to building a collector base, and kind of seeing that play into fruition day by day, as creators build collector bases on lens, right? Or as they do across other areas of the web through ecosystem. And I’m convinced, like that’s the future of value, building a collector base over building a follower base. Would you agree? Would you disagree? Any thoughts around that?

Christina Beltramini: I agree, but I think it’s growing your collective base and knowing who they are. Because there’s a lot of noise in the digital economy right now. A lot of things going on, where do you concentrate your focused, and even myself, like in my day to day and my life, it’s always, you know, a matter of prioritization and where are you going to get the hot, the highest ROI, but being able to actually understand your collectors and your top fans, I think it’s not only your collectors, but who’s going to be your future collectors and how to use signals and open data in that web three social enables, to actually be able to have, you know, a good thesis, and to be able to kind of tend to your audiences in the right way. It doesn’t mean you need to tend to, you know, all as you get twenty thousand now, Adam on lens, you don’t need to attend to all of them, but you should at least know, you know, who the top, you know, five hundred or one thousand are, to really be able to kind of tend to them, because they are your superfans. And they’re incredibly valuable to your growth as a creator.

User Control Over Online Identity

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And that brings me into a section of the blog post, where you talk about data empowerment. And one key area that you highlighted, is like trying to understand what someone’s online identity now means to them through their content. So, my next question to you is like, what does it mean for a user to control and have control over their online identity? And like, what is the value of having that? Because I feel like it’s a new concept in the grand scheme of things, like people are products of the platform, and they don’t really have access to that level of ownership the way these big mega corporations do. But in web three, you are the platform, you build your collective base, you get to own, you capture more of the value that you create. And one component of that is captured through the content that you create. So, when you think of, what does it mean for a user to have control over their online identity? What do you think about it?

Christina Beltramini: It’s definitely about knowing your value. And you’ll see even in web two creators don’t know their value. There’s platforms like fucky pay me, right, where they’re trying to understand, like, how much am I worth? How much should I be paid for, by a brand. And so, the data that creators can capture in web three, social is really a game changer, because they’re finally able to know hey, how much am I worth as a creator? To make sure they’re not under selling themselves. And I think, like I mentioned before, like it’s not only the being able to understand your fans, but it’s also being able to aggregate your data across different social platforms, which in web two isn’t possible, because when you’re posting on Tik Tok, and then you’re posting on Instagram, you have no idea about any type of user crossover between both of those platforms, and the opportunity to finally have open data. And I really admire Bella, right? Because you guys are making this new open data structure and surfacing it to creators in actionable ways. We can expect creators to, you know, be able to understand this data, but this data is a superpower. And so, being able to provide them with tools to unlock it, and to engage in and be smart about how they nurture their communities is really important.

How do you think ownership over this data? And I guess UGC, 2.0, in general, can sort of alter and provide new opportunities for fandom community building and brand partnerships. What do you think is sort of the Aha over there?

Christina Beltramini: Yeah, ultimately, the baseline primitives of lens protocol, are all on chain. So, being able to you when you follow someone, technically, there’s an NFT behind that, when you collect content, you know, that’s an NFT as well. And so, you end up you know, having all of these behaviors that live in your wallet, right, and they become your social proof. And so, when you have that anything about being able to discover others online and connect, you can connect through these different data points, that you’ve been collecting. And so, I think, from a user perspective, like the opportunity to kind of choose my own destiny, and to be able to connect with others with similar interests, besides just having an algorithm, dictate it for me, is really, really interesting. And then also for creators as well, because when someone collects your content, they’re not just liking your post, right? They’re not just commenting, they’re collecting it with meaning. And the idea is that this creates a two-way relationship between the fan and the creator, which can unlock, you know, additional value. Maybe you know, Adam, like I said, I discovered you early, right, I have my poll up to prove that, right. And I’m proud of that. And you know that I was, you know, an early backer of yours, and everyone else that has that season to poll up. It’s no different in web three social, you know, I collected demo from a musician that I like, and then they end up blowing up, they’ll know exactly who collected that demo. You know, before they were a big artist.

Another thing you highlight in your blog posts when you talk about UGC 2.0, you talk about the elements of content creation and distribution. And I think in web three, the sort of like model prior to platforms, like lens protocol coming up is you build virality, and distribution on web two, and you use web three to capture that value via NFTs, and other means of tokens, right? But now we’re sort of like seeing the shift where that those two worlds kind of collide. And web three is the destination for both, like I can achieve distribution in virality through lens protocol, and also capture that value through various collect posts. And I think as a whole, as an industry as a whole, we’re doing a great job of creating tools, that help creators capture the value by minting NFTs. But we’re slacking on the distribution side. Because if we really want to be the platform, where you not only need to capture more of the value that we create, we also need to have tools to understand into accelerate on distribution. Any thoughts around that?

Christina Beltramini: 100%. Everything starts at the social layer. The social layer is what drives collapse. And when I think about lens protocol, it is really the social distribution metal out of web three and the EBM ecosystem. And we’re really only scratching the surface of that. We’re seeing a lot of creators minting on manifolds or on catalog and they’re sharing those links on lens, but there’s way more ways that we can unlock the superpower of the protocol. So, on lens is actually a mirror fee, which I would think of an affiliate fee. Imagine being able to bake that on top of say like a Zora smart contract and collect it directly on lens as opposed. That removed is a ton of the friction but also ensures that that post can be made visible through a social layer where it’s relevant towards. And I think that that’s going to be a huge game changer that lens protocol can offer.

Empowering Fans for Monetization Through UGC 2.0

I love that because that sort of incentivizes fans to be a part of the monetization process in a way that they haven’t really been able to do so in a streamlined fashion. I mean, you can have affiliate links in your link and bio that then outbound to an Amazon page or your E commerce page, but it feels more streamlined and automated when crypto and blockchain is the underlying foundation, to surface that and to enable that. So, my next question to you is, beyond the mirror, do you see other ways as to how UGC 2.0 empowers fans to be a part of the monetization process? Any other examples come to mind?

Christina Beltramini: Yeah, so it empowers fans. But I also want to stress the point, that it empowers a new creative class as well, which is that of the curator. Completely overlooked in the web two ecosystem. And so, the idea that when I’m sharing content on web through social, I can actually earn from that. So, say, a creator, you know, post something on lens, they make it collectible, and they add a 10% affiliate fee, for anyone that shares that piece of content, and it gets collected, because it was all of that person’s amplification. So, what I’ve been, you know, on lens protocol at the moment, you know, I think over 5% of all revenues that have been earned for creators of this new class, you know, called the curator. And so, the idea, yeah, so the idea that we can share content passively, right. And actually, benefit from those like two or three hours a day, that we spend on social media, you know, is a new unlock, where we’re getting paid to engage versus being in the product.

It pays to be a curator, that’s sort of like what I kind of like, lean it down to. And I think in general, there’s power and having tastes making, we see that in the music community of people finding artists before they kind of like emerge and become who they are. And now there’s a way to capture and measure that and prove that using NFTs, using these affiliates, these new forms of affiliate links. It’s a model that I haven’t really kind of like thought about, like I’ve talked about the curator before. But now that you bring it up, I kind of I’m like, reflecting on it a bit more. And it’s like, oh, it’s opening up a brand-new rabbit hole for me.

Christina Beltramini: Yeah, and the really cool thing about lens too, is that everything is composable. So, I could create a blog that’s just based on my merits, right? And provide more context around, you know, each piece that I’m mirroring, but I can surface that. And it doesn’t need to be you know, on the main applications on lens or through my, you know, lens profile. It can be taking and pulling from my lens profile, the relevant content that I want to surface on, say like a music blog, which is what I missed the most, right? Because I feel we’ve become like algorithms zombies, and we’re in like algorithm jail in terms of like, you know, what surface to us on Spotify or Tik Tok, and really bringing back authentic curation, is now possible in a way where a curated doesn’t need to go and be a playlist for Spotify to be able to earn from that Chase making skills, you can earn from that natively online. And I think that’s going to be a really big unlock.

Lens’ Plan to Empower a Wider Class of Curators

How does lens plan to empower a wider class of curators? So, I know you have the features like for example, mirror, natively embedded, right? To support that type of behavior. But is there some type of plan in place to kind of like aggregate and find more of these curators and build like the lens cohort of curators?

Christina Beltramini: Definitely, the way we think about it is the four C’s. I’m sure you’ve heard of this Adam, on lens protocol. So, its creators, curators, collectors, and collectively, that’s what unlocks community. And that’s our thesis. And so, you know, we’ve done a lot of work with the creatives in web three, the next step is really to bring more curators and collectors into the ecosystem. You know, for those curators finding, we’ve really just scratched the surface on the types of tools that are available, I think we could have entire front ends that are built around the notion of curation. And you may or may not have seen dumpling TV, it’s toying on that idea. Because this is the second part of our strategy now, where you can have a whole TV channel, that’s based on video content that’s been mirrored from one lens account. The idea for that was really to encourage builders to really play more with the mirror functionality and not view it as simply a retreat but viewed as a real potential to build curatorial platforms in web three.

Getting Started as a Curator on Lens

So, if a curator comes to lens today, how can they actually get started with kind of like creating the right pages for their audience, based off content on lens?

Christina Beltramini: At the moment, it’s very much, you know, going in and following, you know, different types of audiences and content. So, we have a lot of music creators, as well as photographers and visual artists. And so, you know, really using the recommendations of lens on who to follow is kind of like the first and foremost tool. But then what’s really interesting about lens again, it’s composable. And so, we have a number of integrations. So, you could go to oh la la or to spin amp, which feed the latest lens music content, and view just the music content on a music NFT player that’s coming from lens and use that as a discovery vehicle. And again, I think that’s the most interesting as well, because you have that, you know, distribute wants, distribute everywhere. So, you’re not only dependent on, you know, discovering content through lens stop, and what Leinster is curating. You can actually go and discover on different platforms, on lens that have different recommendation tools for you.

Barriers to Entry for Web2 vs Web3 Native Creators

Christina, one thing that’s incredibly fascinating about your background, is that you have so much experience onboarding web two creators and now with three creators, you’ve seen both worlds. A lot of people criticize crypto because it’s very hard to get involved with. When you think about it from the context of web two, what are those barriers to entry for web two native creators? And how do they differ or compare for web three native creators?

Christina Beltramini: So web two, at the moment, it’s the world of everything tick tock, like, you know, everyone is going to Tik Tok to be discovered, to be the next viral star, but you know, you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of other people, right? You have 64% of Gen Z, that have said that they want to, you know, become content creators. And so, you know, there is social capital inflation. So that is, first and foremost, like how do you get discovered on these platforms anymore? it’s very, very difficult, because you only really have two or three platforms available to you. You have Tik Tok, YouTube, or Instagram. But, you know, these platforms have already kind of been saturated, you know, with creators. And I tell my friends all the time, like they say, I have a video that just went viral. My first question to them is, how many new followers did you get? You know, and now the virality to follower ratio is completely off. So, while you might go viral on these platforms, it really is fleeting thing, because you’re not actually able to convert that into fandom and audiences, by virtue of the nature of the platform. So, I think that is a huge barrier to entry for new creators. And when you think about web three, the barrier to entry slightly different. We’re in the dial up phase of web three. And so, you’re not going to have a huge audience. And you’re not going to be able to bring your existing audience across, because it’s really those people that are here for the check, that are experimenting, as we figure out how to get to the broadband stage. So, the barrier to entry is, you’re really starting from scratch. But on the flip side, you have the ability to really target a new audience set, right? And that is the web three consumer and at the same time, on web three socially, you’re actually able to form connections that you can take with you, you know, wherever you go in the ecosystem. So, I think you know that there’s pros and cons to both. But as I said, it pays to be early, and it paid to be early on Tik Tok, when there was low capital, social capital inflation. And I think it pays to be early in web three social as well.

What is it going to take to get to the broadband moment? What do you think is missing?

Christina Beltramini: We need to make the onramp as seamless as possible. And we need to fix the onboard into web three, you know, at the wallet level, where you don’t need to be signing for transactions every time you post on web three social. And so, there’s going to be a lot of interesting innovation over the next few years, such as account obstruction, that’s going to enable that. But right now, the difficulty is, we’re building the social metal layer, before we figured out one of its core dependencies.

That makes sense. I think one thing that lens does really well is a lot that, like the manual onboarding. You guys spent so much energy and so much time doing like these, these onboarding creator sessions, where you invite people into like a shared zoom call. And you have all these types of creators just like listening to these people speak, I’ve been lucky to sit in a room and also speak on one of those calls. And it’s packed with people just to listen, what’s going on in web three. And I think it’s those manual moments that then eventually lead to the streamline moments, because what you do in those calls, you plant the seeds in people’s head, and then they go and educate others with them. Right? And it becomes like this network effect of education. That’s how I got started in crypto, like getting taught from somebody else and then teaching others about it. And it just, it’s a ripple effect. So, I love that. Are there other examples like that that lens does on a manual basis, that we’re still depending on entrepreneurs to build the wall, to streamline people in? But I want to get more of those like those hard-earned sort of like manual processes. For example, doing those creator calls that you guys do, anything else come to mind on that nature?

Christina Beltramini: It’s definitely you know, doing the things that don’t scale at the moment. 

That’s what it is.

Christina Beltramini: And you know, it’s a little bit of, you know, sweat, and time. But the lens ecosystem is a completely new way of thinking about social media. And so, the idea that, it’s not just one application that you need to learn, it’s, you know, those integrations and that utility of where your social graph is, in other areas that you’re engaging within web three. That distribution benefit of your social content that you post on lens, and where else that might flow that’s useful to creators. And so another thing that we do a lot is, speak with creators about different integrations. And what would be useful for you in your web three journey as a creator, where would you like to see the lens social graph and your content distributed? Because it’s not just an application, it’s an entire ecosystem. And so, as I said, being the social distribution layer of the EVM is really where we see ourselves. But that means everything is a little bit more fragmented, even integrations and requires a lot of education, even when we get those live, to show people and let them know how to use those different tools.

Christina’s Aspirations for Lens and Web3

That makes sense. And you brought up another point that I think is a great segue. You speak to a lot of creators. And you mentioned how they consistent or you consistently ask them. Like, what are the things you want to see? Whether it be out of the lens ecosystem, out of web three in general? Are there any that you can share right now on this podcast? Because I think you bring in that really unique perspective, because you’re talking to a lot of like the non-technical users, who want to use their creative endeavors to find creative independence. And having these needs and desires echoed on the podcast, can kind of relay a message to other entrepreneurs and other builders listening. So, build those tools for them.

Christina Beltramini: So, one item that we get asked for a lot by creators is, how do I share my drop that might be on another platform into the lens ecosystem? How do I share that with my lens community and, you know, similar to, you know, Bello, Adam, where creators can now see who owns my NFT, is actually my lens follower, we’re actually seeing some really interesting insights, where, you know, most cases, it’s 25% to 30% of their NFT holders are actually on lens. And so, there’s a big case and something that we continuously get asked for, like how to share a lens button, because, you know, you might not want to make everything on lens, and we totally respect that. But, you know, lens is an incredible tool for engagement and amplification to a web three native audience. And what we’re seeing is that, you know, it’s far better engagement than Twitter. And you can just go on lens and see a bunch of commentary from people, even Diana Chen, who was on rehash, you know, she has like 10 times the amount of followers on lens versus YouTube. And she’s been on for, I think, six months as well. So, the kind of like more baseline, you know, integration requests that we’re getting from creators. The other ones are, you know, how do I create an application for my community, and having someone create potentially a white label that can then be easily repurposed and forked by different creators? Everyone’s tired of discord. Discord isn’t decentralized at all. So, you know, you might have the token gating, but if you still lose access to discord, you lose like all that community engagement that’s happened on that platform.

So, you’re telling me that I can have an app for the mint podcast, that’s native to lens and build on top of lens, that’s what you’re basically telling me.

Christina Beltramini: totally. And you can offer different rewards to people that have a season to. And you know, surface different content. So, like different tiers of your followers.

Talk about like, there’s this app, snow code app called bubble, I think, where you can do like really no code apps really seamlessly, through drag and drop capabilities. Imagine doing an integration like that, you know, and being able to build your no code app on top of lens, tying your lens social graph, bringing your community of collectors and that’s like a whole new experiment that’s worth exploring. I feel like friends with benefits just introduced their own unique app for their token holders. And I could see lens doing that at scale.

Christina Beltramini: Exactly, exactly. All we need and call out if there’s any developers out there that would like to build this, please reach out because we have a lot of ideas on this specifically.

Overview of Lens’ Developer Ecosystem

One thing that I love about lens is, you guys are at every single conference, you guys are sponsoring, like hackathons, giving out grants, making sure that the community knows what’s going on with lens and incentivizing people to build on top. I love that. I love seeing companies and communities ingrain themselves into the ecosystem. And I know that’s one thing that led to striving for, to attract builders, to build applications that we just teased you know, if that’s something that people are excited about, talk to me more about lens’s developer ecosystem, like what should we know that’s happening in that pocket of lens?

Christina Beltramini: I think it’s very interesting about building on web three social is, you don’t need the full-fledged team that you do to build a web two social product, right? You don’t need those people that are going to help growth hack and bring users. You get these users by default of the open social graph. And what we’re seeing is, we’re seeing one person teams building applications with, you know, 20,000 and I think lens tube is a great example of this. It’s one developer and he’s built a product that has 20,000 DAU as a few days ago, that are going in and consuming content. And that would not be possible in web two at all. And so, I think like the idea that you can build something incredibly easily as a one-person team, is opening up a lot of innovation, like we just saw you know, Kora Dao, they built a, you know, a way for multiple people to be able to collaborate and post from one lens profile. And so, I think this actually spurs more innovation from the developer community because it’s kind of like we were talking about with creators. There’s actually lower barriers to entry to really innovate and to create differentiated features, whether it’s like tooling for the lens ecosystem, or front ends and so I’m losing track of everything that’s getting built by the lens community. There’s something new every day and I think we did a great job, you know, establishing our values and what we want web three social to be and we have, you know, developers from India, to China, to Japan, to the US, all creating new features every day.

I think that’s so cool. And I have no idea that one person is behind lens tube. That is insane.

Christina Beltramini: It’s crazy. It’s an endless stop. So, 2 million apps on lens.

That’s actually wild. So, that introduces a new opportunity, that like social platforms have not enabled last time, or it gets into the previous cycle. And that is the ability to build on top of a social graph, and more so to build, like custom user interfaces that pertain to the experience that you want to create, which poses opportunities and challenges. How do you kind of like promote a non-competitive environment? So, like, let’s to become the de facto crypto native YouTube on lens, because technically somebody can build like their own version of lens tube and try to drive traffic to that and make that the de facto platform on lens. And I feel like you open up this world of like healthy competition, behind all these user interfaces that kind of like either do the same thing. For example, like orb, I use orb all the time, like that’s like my go to mobile lens app, and then I use Leinster on the web. But if somebody were to come up with a better UI, than let’s say either Leinster or orb or whatever the scenario may be, I can easily just take my entire community over there, which is great for the creator because the creator of the platform, right. But I feel like it’s an interesting opportunity for companies or projects building on top of that. Any thoughts around that?

Christina Beltramini: Yeah, you’re right. The ability to digitally exit a platform has never been easier, right? There’s no moats and I think healthy competition is a good thing. Because people and especially in building social products, it’s always about building scale. And then like it doesn’t really matter what the competition does, because you’ll just make it a feature within your application and continue winning and I do think you know, pushing every front end to continue to innovate and create a better user experience or even better, you know, curation tools and things within the stack that that front end can own and is tied to that front end, are also different ways that they can continue to differentiate.

I wonder if we’ll ever see like vampire attacks, where if there’s a new lens tube that wants to come into the ecosystem, they’ll launch a token, and they’ll incentivize people to drop on their platform, to incentivize publishers to release content on their platform, right? And do it in a way where let’s see how this works. So, it may make more sense for those people to go over there. You know what I mean? Like I wonder what the digital war may look like, as this ecosystem evolves?

Christina Beltramini: Well, maybe these new models are a way to allow creators to monetize better. So, someone could come in, create a new lens tube that creators are actually getting paid for ad service against their videos, right? And they’re getting paid, you know, maybe it’s, you know, 98% versus whatever YouTube’s offering. And if lens tube isn’t offering that, then they become less competitive. But at the end of the day, like you said, creators are the platform, right? You guys bring the audience’s, they’ll go wherever you go. And now you have those relationships in your wallet. Right? So, you’ll go whatever is most beneficial to you, from a tooling perspective and create a monetization like your business, is extremely important.

Bringing Web3 Native Creators’ Audience to Lens

How does web three native creator bring their audience and their collective base that’s outside of lens into lens? Assuming they already have a lens profile. They got them unlock, they’re in there. But now, if I want to port my existing collector base, from the web through Metaverse into the lens ecosystem, what’s the best way to do that?

Christina Beltramini: The best way would be to get in touch with our creative team. Right now, we’re still in beta. Intentionally and you know, it does require a whitelist. But for engaged communities that want to bring across the networks, we’re always more than happy to have the conversation of whitelisting them.

And I can speak to that as well. Like you guys are meant to bring in communities over there. 

Christina Beltramini: Exactly.

Lessons from TikTok for Building a New Era of Social Media on Lens

So, I love that. Christina, I want to go back to your time at Tik Tok because it’s very relevant to where we are in the conversation right now. You have a lot of experience working with web to native creators, you’re building this new paradigm shift in web three where the creator is the platform. Are there any lessons that you can share with us, that you took from your time at Tik Tok, that you’re now applying to your time at lens and building this new era of social?

Christina Beltramini: One of the things that I learned at Tik Tok is, Tik Tok was a blessing and a curse because it assumed that every creator is a short form creator, right? And all types of creative talent had to end up adapting to that, and I was in the music team. And so, what you would see is that the music labels would then require, you know, their artists to all make short videos and to kind of modify their creative challenge to that platform. Because that was the only way that creators would be able to break, or music would be able to be discovered. And so, I think that web three social and having different types of front ends that service different mediums, without having to compromise on your social graph or your creative talent is really, really important. And even like Instagram has now become like Tik Tok, where it’s all short form to. So, where would the visual artists go, like where would the photographer’s go, there’s no platform for them anymore. So, that was one of the key learnings.

Content Remixes in Web3

What about on the video side? I feel like you’re very adept to all these creators re mixing content on Tik Tok and creating their own variation of that. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on what does content remixes look like in web three. And I’ll give you the example okay, here is an example that I’ve shared with other people on previous episodes. Oftentimes you come across on Tik Tok of a dog howling and like a certain key, musical key. And then that kind of influences the guitarist to remix that content and to add some chords to it. And then that that inspires the trumpet to remix the guitarists content, who remix the dog’s content to add some horns to it. And then you have the drummer come in and then the vocals come in. And it’s like this entire piece that was kind of like a baby a second ago. That’s now this entire orchestra all remixed on Tik Tok. And when I think about the power of web three, I think about how crypto is like the optimal platform, to enable monetization and micro payments around that. Either for curators who remix the content because the creator can be the curator, right? And also, for everybody that sort of like contributed to that piece as well. Coming down to the original dog that inspired this entire creative movement. Do you have any thoughts around that? Like I envision a world where like splits comes into the picture. And every time somebody remixes a piece of content, things in micropayments get distributed, I imagine lens as the platform to enable that level of discovery and to incentivize people to publish their original piece of content on it, that that enables the re mixing. Like this is the world that I’m starting to imagine right now. Christina, are you with me right now or am I losing my mind?

Christina Beltramini: I’ve started toying with this as UGC 3.0, about community generated content. And so, the idea like, you know, with Aleks flips, where everyone can play a role in a new creative work, but it’ll also bring more value to the original work and we both have little nouns, right? And we’re kind of playing with that in the CCO environment where, you know, it’s really toying with this idea, like you can make the underlying IP valuable, but then everyone who’s contributing to derivative works and even what Jack Bucha did, I thought that was like such a great showcase of, you know, community coming around and building different derivative works around his initial niche. But unfortunately, the limitations are that no one’s earning in that chain, right. You’re always minting a new NFT, with new terms and the ability to kind of pre code that and have that remix ability all on chain. I’m particularly excited about and it’s a big reason why we’ve actually partnered with Stem staff, which is a, it’s a music platform in web three, where you can create with your favorite artists based on their Stems. And we’re really using that as a first test space. So, I think there’s going to be a lot more that comes with it as well, especially when you think about multimedia, you know, we’ve even seen create his own lens partner together, you know, someone does the album, and then someone creates the music work and they’re figuring out the splits themselves. But you know, we’re really at the  final frontier and I think there’s a lot to be done here and in the design space.

New Experiences and Interactions in the Lens Ecosystem

From an educational perspective, I like to categorize this concept of web three social as programmable, social. It’s the first time ever we’re able to program incentives and experiences on chain to engage with our community, right, whether it be collectors, curators, whatever it may be. And when I say programmable social, it fits really well because I can program certain experiences. For example, mid-season six pin collection, I introduced the concept of the vault, that’s something that lens and I collaborated with, and the only way to get access to the vault and collect my pin, which is like the end of season pin, is that you had to follow me on lens first, and that follower NFT was written into the smart contract as a requirement, right? To be able to meet the pin. And you’ve never really been able to do an experience like that prior to what lens has enabled and I love that. Are there any other cool experiences that you can think of, that sort of, I guess, yeah, motivate a new sort of interaction, or new experiences on the lens ecosystem?

Yeah, I think that’s going to be really interesting ways through token gating and token gating different experiences, in effect that’s what you did there. You token gated based on you know, who follows you on lens, but you can also token gate you know, whether someone can view a post or not, unless they collect it. And so, I think programmable social opens up a lot of opportunities to growth hack for creators, and also to earn and monetize. So, if I had a hot take, and I wanted to post it on Leinster, I would say, you know, you must pay five medics to be able to even unlock what I’ve written. And so, we’re just scratching the surface but the composable nature of the follower graph and any content. And Nick Hollins did a great job of this as well, similar to you where you know, he mentored his the visual art from his podcast UFO, and then whoever collected that on lens was token gated to then collect his mirror article. And so, being able to have like social as you said, a Lego and a composable Lego, is just going to allow for I think, things are going to get weird, and it’s going to be fun. And we’re going to see used cases that we haven’t even, we haven’t even envisioned today.

Understanding Currencies’ Role in Growing a Creator’s Community and Monetizing Their Work

My mind is spiraling, another rabbit hole has opened to kind of think about what else can I use programable social to do, in the context of creating unique experiences for my community? I have to think about this one, because every single season I try to introduce something new. And I feel like this avenue is like the ideal environment to keep doubling down on because it’s just, it’s fresh, like it’s exciting. And people haven’t experienced that side of web three quite yet. Another thing I want to talk to you about Christina is, this concept of like creator currency. Right now, creators are used to kind of like earning the revenue either through soul or either through Ethereum. Lens has predicated itself around wrapped Matic, wrapped Eth. I’m curious if you have any mental model of how we can understand, like these types of currencies as to how they play into growing a creator’s community, monetizing their creative work. Any thoughts around that?

Christina Beltramini: I think social tokens, are you talking more about social tokens?

I’m talking more about like, is it worth more to collect a piece of content using Matic or is it better to collect a piece of content using Eth or wrapped case or soul? Like what, like why would you consider one currency over the next, if you’re selling a piece of music NFT for 30 bucks in Eth? Does that mean you should sell it for 30 Matic, you know if Matic is still like $1 or so. You know what I mean? Like that’s how I’m thinking about it. Any thoughts around that?

Christina Beltramini: On lens, we’re built on the polygon chain. And so, the native currency and the easiest one to expect people to be holding is wrapped Matic. And so, one of the biggest sticking points we’re actually seeing is, if you mint with unwrapped Ethereum, you’re gonna get less collectors because there’s more friction to be able to collect that because you need to convert your wrapped Matic to wrapped the Ethereum. And most people by and large have wrapped Matic. So, you need to meet, you need to choose a currency that meets where the demand is up.

Creating Content Worth Collecting

This has been an incredible conversation so far. Seriously, I’ve been learning so much. And one of the final things I want to leave you off with is, understanding how you think about season sevens tagline of creating content that’s worth collecting. What goes into creating content that’s worth collecting, because we’re no longer liking content. We’re actually collecting content, right? We’re identifying with the creators that we love, by collecting their stuff and supporting them, whether it be a free collect, a paid collect. It’s a whole new shift in thinking and patronage. How do you think about content that’s worth collecting? Do you have a mental model, that sort of predicates one piece of content, that’s more valuable than another piece of content? Any thoughts around that general tagline?

Christina Beltramini: For me, there’s two drivers. It’s either the creator or the content. So, if there’s a creator, you know, and I, you know, appreciate their content, their experimentation, you know, I view them as an innovator in the creator economy in web three, I’ll collect that content because of the virtue of the fact that it’s experimentation type content. Then the second one is, you know, I might not know the creator, but I might listen to that track and really liked it, and I’ll collect it for the quality. So, there’s kind of two aspects of in terms of like my mental model, when thinking about what I collect, it either falls in one of those two buckets.


I love that. Christina before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about lens? Show it away.

Christina Beltramini: Yeah, so you guys can find me on Twitter. I’m 0x Christina, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be there for. You can also find me on lens, Christina.lens.

Amazing. Thank you so much. Seriously, we’re gonna have to do this again soon. But until then, appreciate you for being on.

Christina Beltramini: Thank you, Adam. Always a pleasure.

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