The topic of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) is becoming more mainstream than it was previously. NFT art is attracting a new audience of enthusiasts because of its variety – from cuddly to edgy to menacing. Through NFTs, we can experience a new layer of social interaction beyond the arts.

As micro-social networks, NFTs could open the door to a new form of social media based on creativity, ownership, and contribution.

NFTs projects are centered in groups

New NFT projects are supported by dozens of Discord and Telegram groups each week. People are able to connect and learn about the NFT space through these groups, which serve as the epicenter of a project. Twitter Spaces conversations with one of these groups reveal a wide variety of people interested in NFTs. NFTs are a brand-new concept for some members, while others have never used crypto before. During the onboarding process, these groups create a friendlier onboarding experience that reduces anxiety among first-time crypto users.

There is a mutual interest in digital self-expression and a desire to connect with like-minded people in these groups. A community’s values are often formed around the quality and rarity of art and the emerging energies in the community. There are identifiable leaders within these communities, as is the case with other forms of social collaboration. In addition to setting the tone, they organize the community and ensure that its rules are enforced.

 

Each group is establishing its roles, values and codes of conduct — often in a way that echoes the animal traits or ideas in the NFT artwork. Ape Island Apes share monkey memes, Degen Yetis egg each other on with phrases like “Haha, Yeti,” and CryptoDads share their best dad jokes. Across groups, there is a shared vocabulary for those in the know. Nearly all groups greet each other with “gm,” an abbreviation for “good morning” popularized by CryptoTwitter.

And it’s common to see comments like “looks rare” — a hat tip or playful insult to the rarity of an NFT. This type of banter is the lifeblood of an NFT community and, for many enthusiasts, is replacing the endless scroll of Facebook and Instagram.

The Metaverse opens to the world

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have reached a tipping point. The future of these ubiquitous platforms is being questioned amid concerns about digital privacy and declining user trust. In a new phase of digital interaction – a place some call the Metaverse – users are considering ways to express themselves and interact without sacrificing their privacy.

NFTs could be a step toward new social interactions, a notion that might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. TikTok recently announced a creator-led NFT collection, Twitter is embracing NFT verification for profiles, and Coinbase is launching an NFT marketplace. These signals point to a mainstream audience which could broaden the opportunity to make NFTs an important part of our social connections. Big social media will continue playing a part but the ideas forming in NFT communities highlight a new type of social interaction built on NFTs instead of follows and likes.

Utility beyond monetary value

Communities are all vying for project awareness since it can lead to a rise in the “floor price” — the average value of an NFT on secondary marketplaces. Beyond the average price, the most progressive communities are thinking about how to add value for members through perks and exclusive access. This kind of member reward is a wide-open opportunity to add new utility that goes beyond the monetary value of the NFT.

Related: Beyond the hype: NFTs’ actual value is still to be determined

The use of treasuries, funded by the project’s revenue, is growing in popularity as communities seek to act on their ideas. At the time of this writing, Nouns holds 13,722 Ether (ETH) in their treasury — an incredible sum for a decentralized community built around NFTs. CryptoDads is making beer and CyberKongz is building a banana vending machine that makes, you guessed it, more NFTs. Adding utility to NFT projects dominated by profile pictures and memes might seem counterintuitive. However, as these communities mature, they are finding creative ways to align action around shared values.

DAOs and the reimagining of governance

As groups find their way around community decision-making, a need for governance has spurred the idea of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The Nouns community is reimagining governance via NFT ownership by empowering members with a “one token, one vote” approach. Members with at least 1% of the token supply can submit proposals on which the community can vote. As the decentralized web takes center stage, DAOs are becoming an important part of the conversation. Combining NFTs with governance structures seems like a natural alignment of values that rewards ownership and community participation.

A new social code — powered by ownership and collaboration — is embedded in the ethos of NFT culture. While the NFT narrative is still young, it is clear that a social layer is driving adoption. NFTs might prove to be the catalyst needed to usher in a new wave of crypto users.

There is no investment advice or recommendation in this article. Investors and traders must conduct their own research before making any investment or trading decisions.