SXSW POV: Web3: Shift to Member Experience

Alec Pollak, Group Omnichannel Strategy, AREA 23 

Nearly every SXSW 2022 Interactive session had some connection to the world of Web3, including blockchain, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), the Metaverse, cryptocurrencies, DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), etc. A thread that ran through all those discussions was the shift from users or customers to members.  

Most Web3 definitions involve community and owning your own identity within that community. In her session, “Web3 is Coming! Navigating the Past, Present, and Future of Marketing,” Swan Sit, creator and ‘the queen of Clubhouse,’ said, “Web3 is a daisy chain of people collaborating in communities.” Kimbal Musk, founder of the Big Green DAO, said, “The secret superpower that people don't appreciate about Web3 is the community bonding that it creates. If you have one donor giving $100,000 or 10,000 donors giving $10, the 10,000 donors are so much more valuable...because you have a community.”  

COO Sebastien Borget spoke about his company’s virtual world, The Sandbox, a world valued at over $2 billion. His top two pillars for all creators in that world are “Give value to fans and loyal users” and “Reward users for their contributions.” These values and rewards are what differentiates Web3 from Web 2.0. Web 2.0 saw the rise of the user-generated web, but in Web3, we’re members with a stake in the game. 

The Values of Membership 

This theme of connecting with people and the power of the community ran through talks of all kinds. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spoke about the dire need for community and relationships. He told how a professor at med school explained that patients at the end of their lives talked about their relationships. All of them. None of them talked about things they achieved or obtained. 

The “Cultivating Trust & Value in the Metaverse” panel discussed important aspects of membership in a community including: every member having a voice, making decisions and voting, a “world-branding process” undertaken by the community, transparency around who is contributing, growth of communities without shilling and influencers, gauging genuine interest, and ultimately the ability to give back to the community. 

Ekta Chopra, Chief Digital Officer of e.l.f. Cosmetics, stressed how important it is to know your community because it might turn into a new revenue stream you never thought of before. She explained, “Customers or fans can become vested in what you are doing in a whole new way.” 

What can clients do? 

Web3 Membership/Loyalty Programs 

Amy Webb’s Future Today Institute (FTI) 2022 Trends Report outlines how companies are, “experimenting with the economics of loyalty.” American Express, Singapore Airlines and FlyCoin, all have blockchain-based loyalty projects. Fan ownership models are erupting in the worlds of sports, movies and music which all “derive value based in part on the size and strength of their fanbase. Crypto tokens and blockchain networks allow fans to own their favorite brands.” The report asks, “How could blockchain-based assets such as cryptocurrency and NFTs be used to create new or added value from our existing business offerings?” 

This makes NFTs interesting, beyond just a new digital scarcity model. Every owner of an NFT doesn’t just get a piece of art to collect and resell for a profit—there can be a set of automated rules connected with ownership of an NFT, and that can mean a whole world of benefits, exclusive offers, communication channels and, yes, you guessed it, community—they become members of an exclusive community of owners.  

NFTs can also be attached to real world items, like, in our case, rep-delivered brochures or more substantial leave-behinds or built right into the packaging of medicines. Nike recently bought an NFT company called RTFKT. Now, Nike could mint NFTs connected with every shoe and follow the lifecycle of that product from manufacturing to retail, to resale. The buyer of the shoe becomes a member of this elite group of shoe owners and could have that shoe automatically added to their online collection or connected to their running app. 

Web3 Member Education 

Learn-to-earn models have cropped up including newsletters that pay you to learn, like; gamification of learning with crypto rewards as seen on; and the ability to earn crypto for watching videos, like on We could incentivize with charitable donations or memberships in communities to help guide the path of treatment. Filmmaker Celine Tricart posits blockchain-based storytelling narratives could be collectively written to upgrade education and empathic understanding. Imagine patients and HCPs collaboratively telling stories and discussing the end results in sessions built to reveal unrealized challenges, fears, and pain. 


We have spoken of partnerships with HCPs and with patients and caregivers in our shared efforts to improve health outcomes. Now, with the advent of these new Web3 technologies, we can step up our commitment and create more binding relationships in these memberships, sharing true responsibility for bringing forth a brighter future together.