Inner Rings and NFTs
Activation Codes for Community
The strongest communities offer a journey through exclusive inner rings. “Some members may choose to stay at a particular level,” says Charles Vogl in The Art of Community, but “in the best examples, the progression reflects a journey of growth or maturation.” While this idea is thousands of years old, we now have a new tool to turbocharge the ring journey: NFTs.
The rings provide a path from a first-time visitor to a wise elder; the more personal growth, the more inner rings open up. And those rings can offer benefits such as insider knowledge, leadership opportunities, access, or status.
NFTs turbocharge this journey when they’re able to combine asset ownership and inner-ring membership. In other words, when they’re valuable to hold and also used to measure the stages of development within a community. This creates a multiplier effect on value: it's the key to community belonging and also a financial asset.
Let's look at an example.
NBA TopShot is a platform for basketball fans. The platform includes two things: 1) basketball highlight NFTs (called "Moments") and 2) a community for fans. The NFTs are collectible and tradable just like any other sports cards. But they're also the measure of fandom to access community inner rings. I'll show you how. (First let me mention that Discord is the community hub for TopShot and most NFT projects. The inner rings are demarcated by access to private Discord channels where member benefits are communicated.)
As a newcomer, I was able to join the Welcome channels.
The first inner ring opened after I proved myself a “verified” fan by acquiring any 3 Moments. This unlocked the TopShot channels, where I could interact with other members, get support, hear about events, and see what else is happening.
But I just moved to Austin, Texas and wanted to connect with my new local team the Spurs. I noticed there were exclusive channels for each team. To join, I had to complete a team set, which required collecting a Moment from each player on the Spurs’ roster of a certain year. After completing this, I reflected on my new threshold of TopShot growth: I had proven that I’m familiar with the Spurs roster, can navigate the TopShot marketplace and platform, and have committed time and money to put my set together. In short, I’m a real fan. Which then opened the Spurs channel where I found my crew celebrating a little winning streak: Ring two unlocked.
And if I decide I no longer want to be in the community, I can sell my moments on the marketplace for a financial return.
This is just a skeleton example. But it offers the recipe for new types of community interactions. Ones that combine asset ownership and inner-ring membership through NFTs, marketplaces, and community hubs.
The most exciting thing is that this works many other fandoms too: art, music, movies, games, fashion.