Marketing Initiative, 16dg, and Community

Seems like alot of drama around the autonomous marketing initiative. Here is my take down the middle. Probably could be some improvements all around.

  1. Alot of folks claim that OpenGov does not work. I would argue that it probably does (not to say improvements will not happen overtime). Just because it is messy does not mean it does not work. Life is messy. People disagree. If you are looking for an easy life with no challenges then you have already failed. Opengov just puts everything out in the open for all to see. But these same power struggles exist behind the scenes in the “real world”. It’s just they are not visible to most.

  2. I do agree that we need to focus alot of attention on marketing initiatives (not to say that other initiatives cannot be funded). I see folks stating that other projects do not do this. This is outright wrong. Some of these projects spend tens of millions of dollars marketing. I don’t think people realize how big the marketing machines are behind some of these organizations. It is just not visible because most of these projects are highly centralized and therefore the deals are behind the scenes.

  3. I reviewed some of 16dg’s strategy. I have to say that I DO agree with most of his strategy. I am not in the Autonomous Marketing initiative and therefore have no bias. Polkadot has world class front end and back developers and excellent legal teams that look to have Polkadot on sound regulatory footing. With that said, we need marketing. If we can achieve all three, we can be one of the projects that run the tables in 2024/2025.

  4. You have to spend value to get adoption. Right now, there is no demand pull (organic from end users) at scale for Polkadot content because the products on top of Polkadot are either new or not yet launched. Every project outside of Bitcoin and maybe Ethereum are in this same situation. As a result, we have to “push” the content for now, which means paying influencers to advertise our product (NOT token). Once Polkadot has significant adoption, then there will be organic demand pull, which means we can start to change how we market.

  5. Contrary to popular belief, we likely will NOT run out of funds. We have $220M in value in the Polkadot Treasury. If Polkadot reaches it’s all time high in the next bull, that amount will be north of $2B.

  6. Maybe a few other suggestions to the Autonomous Marketing Initiative.

a. I would consider the use of standard pricing. Maybe the use of a table to show what we are willing to pay influencers. This could be based on number of followers (vetted by a firm to confirm no bots), number of videos to be produced, and number of minutes in the videos. Then we give a price of what we are willing to pay. This price can be above market initially (I agree with Giotto on this) to create a flywheel effect and to avoid negotiations while we are getting up and running. The current problems I see are the following: 1) what we are paying is literally all over the place and people will eventually start setting their price to the highest amount possible to see what they can get away with (especially when we say publicly we are willing to pay above market), 2) it’s hard to review, 3) we could argue about prices once and then move on, and 4) the treasury could be manipulated by finder fees. Let me explain more on that last point. If we are paying a finder fee to someone, that is fine; however, if we are paying the finder fee in percentage terms then the “finder” is incentivized to tell the influencer to charge the highest price possible because he/she knows we are willing to pay more and because the finder gets paid more since it is a percent. We should be willing to pay a finder fee and this can be a percent, as long as the percent is based on a fixed amount that makes sense. Again, if we pay above market, I don’t think we need to worry about negotiating with influencers because we are above market.

b. We need to recruit people that are sufficient knowledge, can speak in non-technical terms, have charisma, and have standing in Polkadot to go onto podcast type shows to discuss the Polkadot ecosystem. For example, shows like Impact Theory and Raoul Pal. We want to go onto podcasts that have users that are inherently neutral (meaning they can be persuaded to try something new). Someone who watches bankless probably could not be persuaded since those are largely ETH maxis.

c. I personally have no issues with influencers talking about some of the topics over and over again. We need to start thinking about the onboarding of people in a linear process. Once we convince them they should try out our community, the next question they are going to ask is where do I go to get into the ecosystem. We should be holding their hand (figuratively speaking) and walk them through in a linear process. Here is our tech (we are awesome), here is the wallet (how you get in), here is how you bridge to another parachain (maybe through the wallet), and here are some cool things you can do. I would highlight projects that are both unique and familiar. In other words, we can service everything you already do and provide more. For example, unique could be HydraDX (AMM with one sided liquidity that takes any token for payment and minimizes impermanent loss), Interlay (decentralized defi bitcoin), and Polkadex (decentralized order book). Familiar could be moonbeam (an Ethereum type replica tech stack) which is faster and cheaper and has known protocols like Uniswap. These are just examples. But we need to start thinking about these not only in terms of strategy but process-based onboarding.

d. If we are paying influencers to cover us (especially if we are paying above market), then we could request that they include links in the show notes to valuable Polkadot resources: 1) wallet links, 2) how to guides for staking, and 3) maybe links to popular apps. This could be a standard request we have of influencers.

  1. Now for 16dg specifically. I hear alot of folks say we should trust him because he has $55 million in value to lose and therefore he has significant stake. This is a flawed argument. Let me be clear here. I am NOT saying we shouldn’t trust him. I am just saying we can’t assume we can trust someone based on having a large wallet. A few points that maybe he can provide clarification on (apologies if this info is already in the open public and I missed):
  • Just because someone has significant stake does not mean they have significant stake relative to their net worth. For all we know, this individual’s net worth could be north of $5 billion and his Polkadot stake is one percent. I am NOT saying this is the case, but again, we don’t know. I have met individuals in my life with ungodly amounts of money and tens of millions of dollars is a drop in the bucket to them. They lose it and nothing in their life changes. I think it is a fair question to ask if a significant (doesn’t have to be all) portion of his wealth is tied to DOT. I want to know he has alot to lose relative to his net worth and he is being attentive.

-If this individual is self-made, how did he make his money? Was it in marketing? Too many people apply the halo effect. Just because someone is phenomenal in one area does not mean they are universally great at all subject matters. Would I trust Tom Brady to teach me how to throw a football and read a NFL defense. ABSOLUTELY. Would I trust him to give me fintech advice? ABSOLUTELY NOT. And thank goodness I didn’t. #FTX

  • Let me be clear. I am not saying we shouldn’t trust him or that any of the items noted above apply to him. I am just saying a little more info would be ideal. Again, sorry if this is already public and I missed.
  1. For the Autonomous Marketing initiative, might I suggest the use of more “soft power” rather than “hard power.” Let me define. “Hard power” is saying this is the way it is going to be because I have the money. “Soft power” is the art of persuading to your side. The latter is significantly more powerful, especially long term. “Hard power” usually gets overthrown with enough time.
  • One of the proposals said “under the recent guidelines established by a [person]”. This type of statement uses “hard power”. It comes across as I said so and now obey (not saying this was the intent but that is how it comes across). A way to re-word the statement could be the following. “The autonomous marketing initiative is a group of community marketeers helping drive the adoption of Polkadot, the unstoppable supercomputer! In order to ease the onboarding of new Polkadot marketing initiatives, we have developed what we hope are useful suggestions that our community feels are important for the success of Polkadot. Anyone interested in joining our community and providing feedback on our suggestions are welcome to do so via our telegram group.” This moves the messaging from me to we, provides suggestions rather than mandates, and is more inviting. Word of mouth marketing is just as important (if not more important) as direct marketing. We don’t want our own community members bashing ourselves (threatening sanctions, force transfers, lawsuits; this is NOT productive). Or even worse, we pay influencers to onboard people for us, they try out Polkadot, see this show, say I am out, and then take their bad experience back to other individuals via word of mouth.

In conclusion, I think 16dg’s strategy is likely the correct one; however, additional info would be nice, we need to standardize pricing, and we all need to switch to more productive debate. Let’s all remember we want the same thing: success of Polkadot.

I hope you can take your infectious positivity (reality distortion field level) and try to take the lead on a building the Polkadot Media Collective. Decentralized marketing should support multiple competing approaches. From your philosophy of “we > me” and being inviting in a different way, may I suggest you take the lead on a collectives approach?

I’d really like to see a DOT airdrop out of the treasury. It should go to every person who wants to grab it, maybe included with an app where you get taught the basics. The amount or a part of it could also be in active pool-staking when distributed.
It had to be sticked to real life persons, don’t know how would be the best way to prevent scam and double spending the best.
I have the idea from the early days of Lumen/Stella in my mind. The distribution hasn’t gone very good from a technical perspective but the people were into the system and a huge part of them stayed. In my opinion airdrops to the masses are the best way to get mass adoption or at least can help a lot. Even the simple experience to see getting nice staking rewards can excite people, the smooth working interoperable ecosystem will excite advanced users that already know things better. Polkadot has done a lot to attract developers but way less to attract users. We need both.