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Hackernoon logoYam, the Little Emoji That Could by@henrychild

Yam, the Little Emoji That Could

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@henrychildHenry Child

Head of Tokens at Bitfinex

Crypto has gone food crazy. This summer, YAM, Sushi and UNI dominated headlines, and if you haven't been following crypto twitter, you'd probably still think we're talking about a low-carb diet. We’re not. 

For the past 10 years, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have suffered from being overly complex and difficult to interact with. Cryptocurrency technology has always had great promise, but the recent success of emoji-inspired tokens has demonstrated the importance of community engagement and user friendly “packaging”.

While this may sound like a joke, billions of dollars locked into DEX staking and liquidity pools certainly is not. With most Fortune 500 brands spending upwards of tens of millions of dollars on branding and marketing, the success that these “vegetable coins”  have seen in the past three months is far beyond what any traditional marketer would have dared to dream. 

This blog post dives into the three key ingredients of how crypto has driven marketing KPI’s wild.

Disarming with emojis (creativity/strategy)

Education + information by memes (community)

Gamified with rewards (creates virtuous cycle of euphoria from getting free stuff; helps with driving adoption and word of mouth marketing)

Creativity in Naming

So how does an exact replica of the decentralized exchange blow up to the proportions SushiSwap did? The crypto community was caught off guard by the farcical name of the exchange as well as its creator, appropriately named Chef Nomi (sporting a Panda in a Chef hat avatar). The outlandishness of this all was enough to catch people off-guard, but perhaps it is what made SushiSwap more relatable and human, granting SushiSwap the (misplaced) trust of its community. There is no doubt that since the launch of SushiSwap, other DeFi projects popped up and followed suit, sporting food names such as Pickle.Finance or even Hotdog. These creative and relatable names get people talking, which provides the organic marketing many companies so deeply crave and works for years to accomplish. 

Community Building Through Trends

Crypto has also always relied heavily on relevancy and community, the former being a hot topic in DeFi. Beyond food labeled companies, the crypto community seems to take great pleasure in educating and passing on information through the most relevant avenue: memes. Memes are everywhere in crypto, from the infamous $MEME coin, which sported an emoji-like pineapple as the logo (hello, YAM) whose utility essentially came from thin air, to looking  at crypto twitter and finding thousands of memes spanning from token adoption to whether the market is bullish or bearish. These memes and projects are working to crypto’s advantage because they are a simple scheme to get attention and entice interest in a project. Crypto has built itself based on a direct line of communication with its community, allowing participants to flock to Reddit, Twitter, Discord, YouTube, and Telegram to speak with administrators and founders. While this has resulted in a developing industry built on trust between companies and their immediate constituents, the usage of trendy internet culture takes this to the next level by bridging the gap between complex technical companies and jargon and the average internet user.        

Innovating Incentives

Now, let’s talk about UNI. Just last week, Uniswap’s inaugural token swept the market with over 50K addresses holding UNI a day after launch. This was most likely due to the reward of 400 free UNI tokens Uniswap bestowed upon its users. Uniswap gifting free tokens was the exact incentive needed to create the media frenzy revolving around the token on social media, news outlet stories and even word of mouth. Even with market changes, the question still remains through all of these channels: Did you get your UNI, and what is the future of this token?

Another exciting incentive in crypto are non fungible tokens (NFTs), as these digital assets have the potential to revolutionize the gaming and art industry by offering one of a kind tokens with full ownership. Think about your favorite brands that do limited edition “drops” to exclusive customers, who then go on to resell these items at top dollar-- this could be the future of NFTs, only even more exclusive as each is unique and tradeable. 

Gamifying crypto with these rewards for user acquisition are certainly powerful tactics, creating the euphoric feeling of ‘winning’ for the participants, which is bound to take crypto further into the mainstream and drive adoption forward.  

How These Incentives Paid Off

Yam, SushiSwap and UNI have stolen the media’s attention because they have utilized creativity and incentives which have, in turn, boosted community interaction. As of today, Yam’s Discord has over 7,000 members, Uniswap boasts over 25,500 members and 84,327 token holders, while SushiSwap’s discord has over 22,000 members and 18,494 token holders. These numbers help to prove how crypto is mastering marketing techniques to gain user adoption. Building a strong community may be the biggest factor that determines a project's success.  

The Takeaway 

We can largely attribute the explosive growth of crypto to its highly engaged community, which has taken cryptocurrency  and turned it into a budding industry, primed for mass adoption  and explosive growth. Blockchain communities are allowing users, projects, and founders alike to gather around the water cooler and share ideas, however crazy they may seem, proving that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

Disclaimer: This article reflects my personal opinions and does not represent the views of Bitfinex or any of its affiliates.

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