- Two types of applicants: ‘Influencers’ (individuals w body of work and audience) & Professional Entities
- Influencers output is unique and authentic;
- Professional Entities output should match industry standards
- Apply appropriate standards when assessing Metrics whether the applicant is an ‘Influencer’ or a Professional Entity
The objective when I joined Marketing DAO almost a year ago was very simple: to use Community Funds to issue grants to individuals or projects that could drive growth to the ecosystem as a whole.
One of the few frameworks passed down to us, and kept deliberately broad, was that of funding Passion Projects. Since we’ve expanded the broad principles such as ‘how does this get us closer to 1 Billion users on NEAR’?
It has taken many months to continue to distill what our funding principles are. With each new applicant, Marketing Council is presented with a new set of complex circumstances: some relating to the proposal itself and the rest having to do with the broader ecosystem (current priorities, market sentiment, community feedback, among others).
If you read through many of my comments the proposals that I’ve assessed over the last few months, you’ll see that I often go into a fair bit of detail to note my reasoning and things that influenced my decision.
Today, I’m taking to the forum to share on some reflections that I’ve had, prompted from a series of recent applications and drawing from the experience of all the preceded them.
The Passion Project framing has some shortcomings, namely, it doesn’t cater for professional service providers such as marketing agencies.
When measured against what a traditional marketing agency would be expected to deliver for the sums we are awarding, on average, we are overpaying and (some) teams are underdelivering.
Since March, at about the time our two expert marketers (@so608 and @Klint) we started to be more critical of applications: first getting rid of all the projects that were underperforming (we also started communicating with Creatives DAO as most of these teams were double dipping). Then we increasingly started to apply some ‘professional’ standard to the metrics that were expected of these teams.
It has recently become clear to me that perhaps, in some cases, we’ve been over indexing the metrics and professional standards. How can this be? And how can we course correct without departing from our strict approach to quality?
I’d like to present a framework that may help us more easily categorise each applicant and their content going forward. This is all based on my observations and is open for (constructive) discussion;
We’ll cover each in detail.
Influencers is a broad term that captures mostly individuals, although it could well capture projects in some circumstances. The characteristics of an ‘Influencer’ would be that:
- Content is unique and authentic;
– Content is considered unique and authentic when it is inextricably infused with the person (or the brand they embody) personality, knowledge, or other attributes that is unique to that person and can not be easily replicated.
- The value of their work accrues to them as individuals. This usually manifests itself in the form of an ‘audience’
– The presence of an Audience is also an indicator that the person has been producing content on a consistent basis, usually without expectation of remuneration. This is the normal test for ‘Passion Project’
- The presence of the person on the NEAR ecosystem is a net positive: the work that they do adds value to others in meaningful ways. While this is a subjective test, if you have to try hard to ascertain whether the work meets the standard, the answer is probably no.
– Examples of ‘Influencers’ on NEAR would be Matt Lockyer, David Morrison, NEAR Big Brain, Rim (I’ve deliberately named members who are not applicants to M DAO. There are many more that would this standard with a lot more in the making).
Final note is that while authenticity can’t be copied, it can be bought. The value lost to the NEAR ecosystem if the Influencer were to leave would be much greater than the cost of rewarding them fairly for their output (when reasonable). Other ecosystems are constantly trying to poach our talent.
By contrast we have Professional Entities. The use of the word ‘Entities’ is deliberate as to encompass Projects, Agencies, or individuals who act in a personal capacity.
- Projects refers to a Startup or a dApp. If you want your project to be successful, you must operate at a certain standard. If you don’t have a Marketing Team, outsource to professionals. Projects should be grateful of and resourceful with the free money (no equity taken) available to them and be resourceful. Not fair on the community to piss away community funds on poor marketing campaign that don’t move the needle.
- It goes without saying that if you portray yourself to be a Professional Agency, you are going to be held by those standards. It is not fair on the community to pay market rates for services that do not meet expectations. To put it differently, Marketing DAO would be best served inviting any other professional marketing agency, paying similar rates, but receiving much better results.
- Same as above but for individuals.
There are several things that would characterise a professional service provider:
- They are able to render services to any third party (even if it is in an area outside of their expertise), specially if someone is willing to pay premium rates. This creates a clear conflict of interest as the service provider is incentivised to take the job, regardless of ability to perform, and the project requesting their services doesn’t care how much they charge because Community Fund pays the bill. This is a tragic recipe for more and more applicants charging more money and delivering poorer results over time.
- Content tends to play to their strengths: quality of audiovisuals, planning of schedule, monitoring analytics, targeting and retargeting, etc. (cf. original and authentic message).
- Value should accrue to the projects they are providing services AND to the NEAR ecosystem as a whole.
- While their services may be differentiated in some ways, they can be replaced by other professional entities that can provide similar services. I actually encourage and welcome more professional marketers to help us grow the ecosystem.
The uniform application of Metrics expectations to all applicants, without distinguishing who they are using the framework provided above, leads to an unfortunate place: high quality applicants that are active within the community, delivering content and experiences that create real value are not able to access funding as they don’t speak marketing lingo while other professional service providers may be able to get funding by ticking all the boxes (whether the resulting content is good or not is beyond this post)
Worse, it is possible that in an attempt to fit into arbitrary list of requirements and stringent metrics we may actually end up stifling the Influencer and driving them to create substandard content. This highlights the nature of authentic and creative work; you can’t really plan what you are going t tweet when, but your presence in twitter is consistently good, etc.
We’ve highlighted value and audience accruing to the Influencer, namely, they must be undeniable.
If we were to accept a framework that enables a lot of flexibility around Metrics for ‘Influencers’ then we must also be clear and who it does not cover or when does it apply to people:
- This framework does not cover anyone that assigns themselves the label of a creative. If your creative output is reaching a small audience or this audience is unrelated to the NEAR ecosystem, then it is too early for you to seek funding.
- This framework does not apply to people with poor performance seeking to bypass traditional Metrics as an assessment of the quality of your work. Sometimes you are early and growing, sometimes the content is just not good enough.
- Following on the above, it is not possible to tell what the required size for an audience is. This metric is seen in context with content, etc. We love being able to support small quality players become huge, yet must be mindful of when it is appropriate to disburse community funding.
Common sense and critical thinking. I invite everyone to drop your thoughts here. (On keeping things civilised: dissent is welcomed. We can agree to disagree, posting increasingly aggressive messages will not dissuade anyone to change their mind).
I’d encourage other Marketing DAO Councils to consider this framework when assessing applications and to remain flexible as to allow for active and committed community members to continue to rise while deterring bad actors.