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The problem with community

Ewww-boy! Community vs. Sales

The problem with digital communities today (in web2 and web3) is that the organizers think its members are “superfans”, so they see no reason why members shouldn’t be used to pump products for the brand.

Everyone wins if the product catches fire in the marketplace is the logic.

But what happens if the product doesn’t catch fire?

What happens if things don’t go swimmingly?

What happens if the founders are accused of stealing money from the till at some point?

In all of these scenarios, the community loses.

How so?

Because if you’re a member of said community and have been part of the product cheerleading squad, guess who is to blame if the product tanks?

If all of that sounds disastrous, you’re right.

Because it’s not what community is about.

Yet, most marketers, especially in web3, are promoting this model as the future of brands, products, and communities.


The first big problem with such a framing is that it confuses sales with community.

Communities are not unpaid salespeople.

They do not exist to sell products for the brand.

They are communities.

And communities are about empowering other members to elevate in both life and career.

Communities build together.

They are also in service to the greater good of society, beyond the community itself.

That’s sort of the point of communities.

And we’ve been doing them this way since the dawn of time. (Or at least, the best among us have tried.)

In any case, communities should always evolve beyond the sum of their parts or they’re not fit to be called communities.

But it’s hard to do that when you’re using your community to pump products and view members as “superfans”.

So how do communities become self-sufficient?

By enriching the members individually through education, inspiration, and shared humanity. Wealth generation is a byproduct of that.

I’ll talk more about that next time.


P.S. Here are some ways I can help in your journey.

Pick my brain about…

Storytelling; Founder Narrative (let’s create one for you); Marketing; Community; Ecosystem building; Finding meaning in brand and communities; Web3 & NFTs; Human Marketing; Finding your why; Mission, Vision, and Values; Creating purposeful products; Social media; and more in the “Seeing around corners” 90-minute consulting session. I will help you decide on the right path and give you the clarity to move forward with a newfound sense of conviction in your business.