Blockchain seems to be crystal clear for the industry insiders. However, when there comes a need to explain – let’s say for grandmother – what is it for or how does it work, or evermore, what is your role in that industry, the answers do not provide many clarity.
Even though there are plenty of articles, studies or video explanations created about the blockchain, the general public still seems not to fully grasp its concept.
Is it really so complicated? What should the blockchain industry do to become more public-friendly?
Emily Parker, the co-founder of the LongHash blockchain accelerating platform, summarises the communication problems industry is facing and shares her insight on how to solve them.
Problem 1: Blockchain doesn’t have a storyteller
The blockchain industry has a storytelling problem because there is no one designated to tell its story. Meanwhile, the milk industry spends $46 million a year to tell the story of milk.
Tech products need even more of a marketing effort as they are often new and complex. They require some explanation. Marketing teaches people what the products do, and tells stories about how these products can fit into people’s lives.
There’s no coordinated marketing campaign to let people know what Bitcoin is. Given that Bitcoin’s value as a currency will be largely defined by the number of people who actually use it, this is a pretty big problem. The decentralization that makes blockchain so revolutionary can be a liability when it comes to messaging.
Problem 2: Industry doesn’t know what story to tell
Even if the industry miraculously united around one story, which story would it even be? When we say Bitcoin, what exactly are we referring to? Bitcoin the currency, or Bitcoin the network? If it’s the currency, what exactly is its purpose? Is it a long-term investment or a get-rich-quick scheme? Is it a safe haven from traditional financial markets — and if so, then why did it recently crash with the stock market?
Some people know Bitcoin as a private form of money that is good for making secret transactions. The first problem with this narrative is that it’s not even really true. The other problem is that privacy doesn’t necessarily sell. Finally, privacy might be not a top of mind issue for most people.
However, Bitcoin probably has the clearest story of any other blockchain-based token. Ethereum, the second most well-known blockchain, is even harder to explain to the general public.
Problem 3: The industry isn’t helping itself
Some of these problems are legitimately hard to solve. But at the same time, the cryptocurrency industry is not helping itself. Instead of trying to communicate a larger vision, many are consumed by petty infighting about which tokens are best.
And even as much of the world has no idea what Bitcoin is, start-ups are investing their time writing nonsensical white papers and promoting products that even industry insiders can’t understand.
Solution 1: Make products that people actually want
Some of the most important work may lie with entrepreneurs and developers. For blockchain technology to truly touch the ground, it needs to be applied to products that people actually use.
If a start-up can’t concisely describe its product and the problem that it is attempting to solve, then does the world really need that product? And does that product even require blockchain at all? Startups and investors should be constantly asking these questions.
Solution 2: Lose the jargon
If you have a product that does add value, put some effort into telling its story. Some startups confuse storytelling with “marketing” — or paying huge sums of money for self-promotion. Storytelling, by contrast, is explaining clearly what your product is, and why the world needs it.
Some good ideas may never get funding because investors have no clue what the founders are trying to say. It’s also startling how the creators of some consumer-facing products don’t see the need to explain their product to actual consumers.
Solution 3: Coordinate the message, within reason
The blockchain industry is decentralized. There are many blockchain-based tokens, and we can’t expect them to unite around a common story. But the different players can work on better coordinating the messaging of their specific community.
It’s good to name and shame scams and nefarious actors, but it’s not helpful to publicly trash tokens or key crypto figures just because you don’t like them. These divisions add confusion or cause people to tune out completely.
Reasonably coordinated storytelling could have benefits for everyone, regardless of what project you are working on. It will be difficult to get people to use blockchain technology if they don’t understand what it is, or why it should exist.