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Content is King
Answering the 5W1H questions on content marketing for web3 growth leaders
“Content is king!” – an adage thrown around so much that it causes mass eyerolls in the Internet era. Yet content marketing remains a critical lever for web3 startups and projects; especially for audiences bombarded with endless information, and with low trust in paid marketing.
HubSpot found only 3% of consumers trust paid promotions, which Nielsen confirmed, with research showing that trust in traditional paid ad channels is declining precipitously year-on-year. Content has the power to engage, educate and inspire audiences – yet how do web3 growth leaders create content that breaks through a sea of noise?
In this piece, we dive into the 5W1H of content marketing in web3 – the six questions we most commonly hear as a VC and growth marketer:
Why do we need long-form content marketing?
“Writing Twitter threads is easier :/” That may be true, but at the core of most well-crafted Twitter threads, Tiktok videos, and email campaigns, lies high-quality, long-form content.
Long-form content builds the foundation upon which other channels can flourish, and provides an opportunity to engage audiences deeper. In an environment where most messaging is fast, brief and unimpressionable, thoughtful content can deeply resonate with audiences. The case for content marketing can perhaps be best summarized with this –
“Marketing is telling the world you're a rockstar. Content is showing the world that you are one.”
It can take years to reap the reward of consistently producing content. Here’s the traffic of a blog that co-author, Jared, started in 2019:
The first year was all about writing and not worrying about results. He averaged around 1K+ monthly unique views through the first three months. Fast forward a year, and the number had increased to 8K+ (and growing fast).
If Jared had obsessed over results in the beginning, it would have been hard to stay focused and produce content consistently.
What should we talk about with our content?
“I have writer’s block!” is a common excuse to not get started on the content marketing journey. Yet every company can kickstart with 5 pieces of content:
A “GM” article that introduces the project. This can be a concise piece that introduces the product or service, outlines key problems it solves, and the unique value proposition. Take a look at this Zelus blog article as good inspiration for a GM post.
A “Vision” article that depicts the ideal end-state, when the product or service is fully implemented at scale. Vivid imagery to excite users on what “could be” is vital to drive interest among would-be users. An example would be Yield Guild Game’s article that paints their vision for web3 e-sports.
A “How It Works” article would instill confidence following the “Vision” article. A simple, layperson-friendly piece that shows how users can achieve their objectives with the product or service, rich with illustrations, screenshots and schematics, typically works best. For example, Thala Labs presents a lightweight introduction to their AMM swap.
A “Roadmap” article shows users how the initial version of the product will develop from its current iteration to the end-state vision. Users of any early-stage product are looking for a journey to grow together, and a roadmap highlights what users can expect. Check out Pontem’s 2023 roadmap as a sample.
A “Meet The Team” article is interesting to users, as it evidences the team’s credentials and story. Even for anonymous teams, the origin story of the project can spark further conversations and curiosity, and contextualize the product or service. Some teams like Civitas even go one step further to feature individual team member’s profiles.
Building from this base of 5 pieces, the content creation possibilities are infinite. From a discussion of tokenomics, to partnership posts that introduce new collaborators, all projects need to generate topic ideas is simply to look at users and ask “What would they be interested in finding out?”
When should we publish our content?
“You should publish content on the fourth Thursday of each month at precisely 4.09pm because that is when people are most bored at work…” Nope, not really.
While one can obsess over when to post, the overwhelming consensus among growth leaders is that it does not matter when a piece is published. The differences across day and times are relatively insignificant, especially when most people access content through referral, such as social media, newsletters or shared in community groups.
What is more important is frequency and consistency of publication. To see results, as a bare minimum you should create content at least once a week, with two to three pieces as the goal. Do this for at least 3 months and you will have at least 12 content pieces published. Content is a long game with results that compound over time, hence initial momentum is necessary.
Where should we publish our content?
“Owned or borrowed?” – there are two schools of thought on where content should be published. The former emphasizes owned audiences: content platforms you have control over. Publishing content on your website is an example of an owned content platform.
Tweet from one of the co-authors on borrowed vs. owned
Borrowed content platforms are places where you don’t have full control over your audience but there is already traffic and readership, so you have more opportunity to acquire new users
We believe that nascent, early-stage projects should focus on acquiring users from borrowed audiences. By publishing on popular third-party platforms and partnering with other communities, you can tap into a larger audience that’s already consuming similar content. The recommendation algorithms of these platforms can drive traffic to your content and you can leverage these multi-billion dollar tools as growth engines for your project.
Projects can tap into Substack’s rapidly growing subscriber base, with a high propensity to pay for quality content
For early-stage projects, website traffic can be a hurdle to reaching their audience, as they start with limited visibility. Plus, building an optimized blog or content section on the website is no easy feat, whereas existing tools like Substack or Medium offer a suite of easy-to-use tools such as email capture for readers to subscribe.
Web3-friendly publishing tools like Mirror can help attract readers who are driven by their decentralized values. To identify which platform will work for you, work out what type of readers you want to attract first:
Acquiring everyday users = Substack + Medium
Niche users = web3 native solutions like Mirror
Large existing user base = self-hosted blog
As projects mature and the audience grows, it is worth considering moving from a borrowed channel to your own self-hosted blog.
Who should create the content for my web3 project?
“I don’t want to write. Can I hire someone to do it?”
Engaging a partner (such as Layer15) to turbocharge your content efforts may be a good idea, but not all projects are ready to pour gasoline on the content fire. Often, it is unproductive to engage agency partners to create content when there are limited talking points. This holds especially true for pre-launched products with no brand identity, community updates, product roadmaps, or partnerships.
In these early days, the team can create content themselves (drawing on the 5 article ideas outlined above). There is indeed a “right time” to engage partners: when there are upcoming highlights such as partnerships, product milestones, live event activations, promotional giveaways or launch campaigns.
These provide the “ingredients” for strategic partners to come in fast and brew a growth campaign backed by a compelling story for your brand or project.
How do we get more impact out of less content?
“Isn’t that a lot of effort?” Yes it is!
Content creation is a lot of work, but we think it is table stakes for a growing swathe of web3 projects. To get more return on investment for content, projects should remember the following:
Repurpose content – With a full-length article (like this one), you can create listicles, infographics, Twitter threads, Instagram carousel images and quotes to repurpose a single piece of content into a rich social media calendar. Often, projects are reluctant to share their content more than once, afraid that it will be repetitive and irritate audiences. What we have learnt is the opposite, as social media, especially in web3, moves so fast. Often, audiences have poor recall, so with the right interval planning, multiple repurposed pieces from a single piece of work can reinforce retention. Projects should not be afraid of sharing frequently - rarely do audiences find there is “too much” content.
Do not post and ghost – After you have put in the effort to create content, failing to listen to your audience’s response is a massive wasted opportunity. The purpose of content is to engage your audience; those who respond are “superfans” who have taken the time to create micro-content in response. For every interaction - a like, a comment, a DM – responding to content, projects should actively engage. Show appreciation and take the effort to get to know these most-engaged fans, who can become a focus group for feedback
Focus on doing one type of content well – While it is tempting to trial a variety of content formats, from written blogs, to podcasts (audio) and videos, we recommend projects start by focusing on one type of content. Generally, this should be written, as it has the lowest production requirements. Podcasts and videos are resource-heavy, demanding not just content creation but production excellence (think audio engineering and video editing).
Projects should develop a long-term relationship with content, not a one-and-done approach. Give your content strategy and development plan time to grow and prosper. Your best results may come months or years down the line, but thoughtful content can build real trust and rapport with your target users and community members.
While it requires sustained and ongoing efforts, content offers projects the ability to demonstrate expertise and authority in their domain, and can help projects rise above the noise.