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NFTs: Your Ultimate Tool for Community Building and Engagement

NFTs: Your Ultimate Tool for Community Building and Engagement

The Non-Fungible Token (NFT) industry can be traced back to the early days of the internet. The first NFTs were digital collectibles created on forums and message boards. These tokens were simply images or text used to represent a unique asset.

However, it wasn't until the development of blockchain technology that NFTs really began to take off. Blockchain provided a way to securely and permanently store data on a decentralized ledger. This made NFTs much more secure and trustworthy than traditional digital collectibles.

Since then, the NFT industry has exploded in popularity. Millions of dollars worth of NFTs have been sold, and the market is only getting bigger. With the help of blockchain, the NFT industry is revolutionizing the way we think about digital ownership.

This article discusses NFTs, including where they came from, important milestones, and what to expect in the future.

The Origin of NFTs

The first-ever known non-fungible token (NFT) was created in 2014 by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash. It was called Quantum and consisted of a video clip of digital art created by McCoy’s wife, Jennifer. Originally, the technology was called “monetized graphics,” and Quantum was registered on the Namecoin blockchain and sold to Dash for $4. Today, it’s on sale for $7M.

In October of 2015, three months after the launch of the Ethereum blockchain, the first NFT project, Ehteria, was launched and demonstrated at DEVCON 1 in London. Most of the 457 NFTs went unsold for more than five years until March 13, 2021, as interest in NFTs was renewed. These remaining pieces sold out in 24 hours for a total of $1.4M. At the time of their launch in 2015, their cost was only $0.43 each.

Increased public awareness began in 2017 when an online game CryptoKitties monetized cat NFTs. During 2020, the value of the NFT market exploded, tripling to $250M. During the first quarter of 2021, more than $200M was spent on NFTs.

Or Was the Origin in 2012?

There is another origin story out there on NFTs worth discussing, known as Colored Coins. Colored Coins, created in 2012-2013, are made of small bitcoin denominations–known as a single satoshi–which can be used to represent a multitude of assets and have multiple uses, including:

  • Coupons
  • Property
  • Issue shares of a company
  • Ability to issue your own cryptocurrency
  • Digital collectibles
  • Access tokens

Unfortunately, the whole Colored Coin system carries several flaws. But, they played a significant role in laying the groundwork for NFTs. You can learn more about them here in the “Overview of Colored Coins.” 

Counterpoint: “Counterparty”

Another early consideration for the creation of NFTs is Counterparty. Counterparty is a peer-to-peer financial platform and distributed, open-source Internet protocol built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. It allowed asset creation and even included a trading card game and meme trading, where Rare Pepes originated.

Rare Pepes

In October 2016, “rare pepes” were issued along the Counterparty platform. A rare pepe is a meme featuring a frog character that has developed an intense fanbase. Besides being incredibly quirky, the uniqueness of these images makes them such desirable NFTs. 

How the NFT space has evolved

In simple terms, an NFT is a unit of data stored on a variety of digital ledgers called a blockchain, which can be sold and traded. But, what started as a simple video clip has evolved into many use cases across various industries. But, perhaps none is more compelling than the art industry.

The History of NFT Art

Art is perhaps the most common way to use NFTs, as auctions from high-profile NFTs have made the biggest splash in public attention. Currently, the most expensive NFT ever sold was at an auction price of $91.8M–work by artist Pak, entitled The Merge.

The merge

The Merge is both a single piece of artwork and a series of artworks. When it launched, buyers could purchase an NFT, called a mass, for a set amount of money ($575). However, for buyers who purchased more than one mass, instead of receiving another NFT, their current mass actually increased in size. The price of a mass NFT grew throughout the sale, and buyers who bought a lot of mass were rewarded with free mass. 

It sounds a little confusing, but if you can picture a tiny ball of mercury as one mass, then add other tiny balls of mercury to it, you can see how each comes together to get bigger and bigger. That’s what The Merge is and was before the sale was brought to a close. Now, even though the launch is over, buyers and traders can still sell or trade their NFTs to grow their mass bigger, making their NFT more valuable. 

In the end, more than 28,000 buyers spent over $91M on what has been one of the most compelling NFT art concepts to date.

Everydays: The first 5000 days

The second most expensive (at $69M) was a piece of artwork by Michael Winkelmann–known as Beeple–called Everydays: the First 5000 Days.

Beeple is a graphic designer and motion artist from South Carolina who is well-renowned in the digital art world. However, his rise to fame reached a new height with his NFT collage created from 5,000 images created daily for 13 years. The images were put together and formed one NFT unit that sold for almost $70M making it the third-most-expensive piece of art ever sold.

CryptoPunks

Perhaps, the most well-known NFT digital art pieces are the collection of CryptoPunks, which is credited with starting the NFT craze of 2021.  

CryptoPunks is a series of 10,000 unique collectible characters stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Each character is created using an algorithm and no two are identical. The images are 24x24 pixels and feature some combination of guys, girls, apes, zombies, and aliens. While some of the images share attributes, the rarest ones feature the fewest attributes. For example, on the current marketplace, CryptoPunk 5822 is on sale by the owner for $34.89M. It features one attribute–a bandana–which is only shared by 481 punks. 

Perhaps the wildest part of CryptoPunks is that initially, they were all free. One simply had to claim them. Now they sell for hundreds of thousands to multi-millions of dollars.

CryptoKitties

In the 90s, we had Tomagotchi–a handheld digital pet that you could feed, love, and–if neglected–kill. In the 2020s, we have CryptoKitties! CryptoKitties are digitally created breedable and collectible cats. Each is one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed.

It turns out that breeding digital pets is big business for at least a short period of time. While CryptoKitties was the first widely recognized blockchain game and featured astronomical growth, the popularity was short-lived. In fact, it reached its peak on December 10th, 2017. But, by the beginning of 2018, the game’s popularity fell by 90% of users. However, for those that were fortunate during that short time. One CryptoKitty fetched $1.3M, another $566,000, and the third most expensive CryptoKitty was sold for $107,000.

Bored Ape Yatch Club

Similar to CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a collection of 10,000 unique, algorithm-created images. Except instead of aliens, zombies, and humans, BAYC features images of–you guessed it–apes. In March of 2022, sales of BAYC made up more than a third of total NFT sales. In January of 2022, BAYC surpassed $1B in total sales.

Who Can Create & Purchase NFTs?

The easy answer is that anyone can create or purchase NFTs. Some companies help guide you through the process of creation, connecting your content through blockchain, and getting the proper paperwork done to develop your own NFTs. Purchasing is also as easy as connecting with an online marketplace and working with vendors to purchase or acquire the NFTs you want.

You can launch your NFT collection in seconds with Mantial. We assist everyone, from entrepreneurs to celebrities and large companies throughout the whole process of conception, sales, and management of NFT collections.

In Conclusion

The future is wide-open for the NFT industry. As it becomes more and more popular, creators and even NFT experts are still exploring the possibilities of this technology and how it collides with our everyday lives. While the exact future of NFTs is uncertain, the market is expected to continue growing, and NFTs worth millions of dollars today could be worth billions in the future. 

And, when money like that is involved, everyone will want a piece of the action.

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The Walking Dead

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Rick’s NFT

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The Walking Dead

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Michonne’s NFT

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This is an especially exciting time for anyone who is a public personality, brand owner, influencer, celebrity, or simply an industry enthusiast—as we are at the beginning of a paradigm shift in how we approach branding, intellectual property, and monetization.

But why does this matter? What does it mean for public figures? Let's find out!

Why Every Major Influencer Should Launch Their NFT Collection, Sooner Than Later

Are you a public figure? Influencer? Celebrity? If so, you should seriously consider launching your very own NFT collection right away.

Why? Because it's a no-brainer for someone in your position. If you're waiting to launch your NFT collection, you might be missing out on a huge opportunity.

NFTs are the new way for fans to engage with their favorite brand, celebrity, or public figure. You're probably acquainted with the traditional model of engaging through social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter, where you can follow or like someone and get a glimpse into their lives, but that's just a surface-level connection.

What if you could build a deeper relationship? What if you could interact directly with someone who inspires you? Wouldn't it be amazing to get personalized messages from your favorite celebrity? Or have access to exclusive content?

The Next Frontier of Fandom

A little-known fact about NFTs is that they open up engagement possibilities that have never existed before. They offer a way for creators and consumers to form real relationships. 

With NFTs, every piece of content has its own home, where it can be stored and archived forever. That means that every creator has their own platform—their own kingdom—where they can build a community of supporters who want to be engaged in a meaningful way. 

And the best part is that this community is entirely self-selecting: only people who want deep engagement with their favorite brands, celebrities, etc., will participate in this way. 

Selling NFTs is the New, Savvy Way to Engage Your Fans

Too often, influencers and public figures have to rely on third-party platforms and tools to connect with their fans. This means that your engagement data gets locked into a platform you don't own. 

It also means that you need to go out of your way to try to persuade people to follow you on Instagram or Twitter—even though most of them already use those platforms anyway. And it means that you're constantly competing for space with other influencers on the same platforms.

With NFTs, you can:

  • Connect directly with your fans by giving them tokens they can use to access exclusive content
  • Regularly solicit feedback from your token holders
  • Develop a sense of exclusivity and community around your body of work or assets 

Building a community through NFTs helps superstar leaders, taste-makers, VIPs, and celebs create a direct connection between themselves and their top supporters—one that is not mediated by platforms like Facebook or Twitter, which are notorious for deleting accounts without explanation or engaging in censorship.

buy and sell nfts and engage new fans

An Alternative to Social Media 

NFTs can be employed as an alternative to social media profiles to send messages and updates to followers. Communities of followers can be built around NFTs, which are permanent and can't be deleted by platform owners (at least at this time). This is especially useful for public figures who may have their social media accounts deleted for off-color comments or political reasons.

NFTs can also be used as an alternative to email newsletters. People can engage in a much more unique way than they would with an email newsletter. And the NFT will never need to be unsubscribed from if the recipient no longer wants updates from the person who sent it!

The NFT space is a whole new world, with still numerous unexplored applications. It's also still a relatively small community, which represents a massive opportunity for influencers and public figures who catch the wave as early adopters.

Influencers who want to engage with their fans in a more personal way can have a lot of success doing so right now, while the space is yet to become oversaturated—but we expect that won't last for long.

How Closer Interactions Are Improving Engagement

Wondering about the recent push to make NFTs mainstream? We've got good news for you: there's only one vital reason to get in on this trend, and it's because it's going to make your relationship with your fans better than ever.

If you're a flourishing artist, famous musician, or a renowned creator of any kind, you know that connecting with your audience is crucial to success. You also know that it can be tricky to figure out how to do it! 

Do you release your work for free and rely on patron donations? Do you sell physical copies at shows/in-person events? Do you sell downloads? Should you sign with a label or producer? All of these options have their quirks and drawbacks, and they don't always provide the type of engagement and connection with fans that you're looking for.

Here's how it works: when a fan buys an NFT that represents something you created, like an album cover or animated GIF, they're not just buying that thing—they're also buying into your work and becoming a part of your world. 

The more they buy, the more they have access to your exclusive content. The more they share that content on their own channels, the more eyes you get on your creations, and the more people will want to be a part of what you're doing.

It's all about using your NFTs as a way to connect directly with fans and give them what they want: access to your world. So why not get started today?

Unlock the True Value of Your NFT Database: Running Powerful Engagement Campaigns That Foster Community 

One of the most significant effects of NFT technology is its ability to serve as community access points. Brands that get it go way beyond simply releasing NFTs to generate buzz through exclusive drops and large sums of money—they use NFTs to convert customers into insiders.

As each NFT is a one-of-a-kind token, it can be used to represent a unique "record" in a database or a row in an Excel file. Simply put, you can think of each NFT holder as a VIP on your contact list. This automatically increases the value of the actual NFT beyond its status as a collectible and encourages your audience to become a member of the exclusive holder community.

So, what unique treasures can new members of your community discover? Whatever you come up with will ultimately become the thing that boosts your reach exponentially and entices your audience to join you on web3. 

Unlock the Value of your NFT Database

Here are a couple of popular and proven methods to get you started in the right direction:

Token-gating

Token-gating refers to the practice of making certain aspects of your NFT collection available only if a collector owns a certain number of your tokens. It's a great way for collectors who join you on this journey to get exclusive access early on. 

And token-gating isn't just for artists! If you're a performer, athlete, or other creative who releases content regularly, consider token-gating your exclusive releases for NFT holders only. 

This will help your fans feel special and increase the value of the tokens they already own. For example, you could token-gate behind-the-scenes content from a photoshoot, a live performance video from your last tour, or even podcast episodes that only NFT holders can access.

Access NFTs

Sometimes called "platinum tickets," access NFTs enable you to unlock real-world experiences for your superfans to enjoy when they purchase your tokens. For example, a collector might pay $100 for an access NFT that gives them the opportunity to attend a one-on-one meet-and-greet. 

In another scenario, maybe you have a few VIP tickets to your shows that are reserved exclusively for people who have bought certain tiers of NFTs. Can you imagine? Your fans will be elated!

Three Helpful Facts to Keep in Mind Before Diving In

Although the NFT space is still relatively new, more and more public figures are seeing how NFTs can help them broaden their personal brands. Here are three helpful facts to consider while preparing your collection for market:

1. There Are No Best-practices or Industry-standards Just Yet

Today, NFTs are doing everything from developing new ways to provide Coachella memorabilia... to resurrecting the dead—such as rap photographer "Loupy D," who just released a rare collection of Tupac images via NFT auction platform OpenSea.

Keep in mind that due to the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the NFT digital landscape, there is yet no one-size-fits-all strategy or industry-standard deals. The advantage is that, with the correct creativity and public support, NFT transactions can be negotiated and tailored to increase brand visibility.

2. Start by Aligning Your Strategy with Your Brand Goals

Pop stars and professional athletes are interacting with NFTs in a number of ways, which we are seeing more of. We have the "operators" who are establishing NFT networks and online communities for creators to connect and sell their NFTs, like Tom Brady's forum Autograph, or John Legend's partnership with OurSong.

Then there are the "creators," such as Snoop Dogg, Ellen DeGeneres, Eminem, and Grimes, who launched their own NFT collections in conjunction with NFT companies. There are also "owners," such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, who sold their NFTs to celebs like Neymar, Justin Bieber, and Kevin Hart.

All this to say, it is vital to comprehend the diverse approaches in which NFTs can be engaged. Develop your strategy with the use case that makes the most sense for you.

3. For Your Debut Drop, Go with Smart Digital Collectibles

It's a solid assumption that the immediate NFT ethos will stay oriented and focused on digital collectibles. During this growth period, it's essential to orchestrate the best possible tradeoffs between supply and scarcity—availability and exclusivity—when introducing an NFT collection. 

The rarity of Campbell's and Coca-Cola NFTs, for example, may make it difficult to maintain consumer interest in the long run. On the contrary, having too many NFTs in your collection can make people think they don't have enough value.

Keep in mind: the perceived worth of collectibles comes from the fact that many people want what other people want. Striking the right balance is mission-critical.

Putting it All Together

As one of the most rapidly-growing segments at the hub of culture, tech, and business, it's no wonder why so many public figures are implementing their own NFT strategies.

NFTs continue to be a remarkable method for developing a fan base, engaging with fans in new ways, and diversifying your brand. Aside from the digital scarcity that drives the high value of some NFTs, this technology stands at the explosive nexus of the creative and digital economies, ripe with yet-to-be-discovered possibilities.

However, before you get involved with NFTs, make sure you and your team have a well-defined strategy that will lead to the most successful strategy launch.

As with any new worthwhile investment, proceed with caution! The financial, legal, and other consequences of entering the realm of NFTs unprepared could be severe. If you're a newbie, it is critical to enter the digital asset space with cautiousness and attention. Consider forming a partnership with experts in upcoming technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Welcome to Mantial: Made Just for You

Dreaming of launching your very own NFT collection, but don't have loads of free time to learn about Web3, crypto wallets, blockchains, and all the technology that goes with? 

No worries—Mantial has you covered! We offer an end-to-end solution that's built with quality, speed, reliability, and YOU in mind. 

From concept to creation, we will guide and consult you through the entire planning and launching of your NFT collections.

Our pros are committed to ensuring your experience is as smooth and seamless as possible, so we've done all the major heavy lifting of creating a cloud-based infrastructure that's optimized for both speed and security. 

With Mantial, you get it all.

  • Scalable to Infinity: We can handle any number of NFTs in your collection, whether it is 100 or 100,000.
  • Worldwide Access: Launch your collection on OpenSea, the world's largest marketplace.
  • Exceptional Client Support: Talk to the very people who are building the product directly. Create long-term alliances.

Getting started is simple! If you want to kickstart your NFT project, just visit us online to fill out our request form or, book a conference time on our calendar. 

Ready to launch your NFT collection today? We'll make it happen.