Web3 Community The Fusion of Personal Sentiment and Collective Belonging

Author: DocTom; Translation: Sissi

Translator’s Note:

In the Web3 era, blockchain technology and token mechanisms have broken the boundaries of value circulation, enabling more freedom and extensive collaboration among participants. This era not only reshapes the form of communities but also redefines the essence of communities in a profound way. Here, individuals have greater autonomy and can better control their digital identities, while communities are no longer simple aggregations of individuals, but concentrated representations of values and identities.

In this process, the role of communities has surpassed the attributes of products and services and expanded to the level of cultural shaping and identity recognition. What truly connects individuals and communities is not just ownership but the establishment of a sense of shared identity. Based on this, Web3 has given birth to a brand new community ecosystem – where individuals have autonomy and also achieve consensus with a larger collective. By balancing individual and collective, personal and common needs, this ecosystem will foster extraordinary community cohesion and vitality.

The Ownership Primitive of Web3

In Li Jin’s latest article, she explores the concept of psychological ownership and its importance in the Web3 era, tokenized products, and the network background where users have ownership.

Psychological ownership refers to the subjective feeling of owning or possessing something, which is different from legal ownership. However, similar to legal and actual ownership, psychological ownership creates a sense of “mine” by giving individuals personal attachment and investment in products, services, or initiatives. This attachment can come from various factors such as the time invested in using a product or investing in a service, the level of personal control and customization, and emotional connection. When individuals have a sense of psychological ownership, they feel that the product, service, or project is a part of themselves (i.e., “self-object consistency”), and therefore, they are more likely to take care of it and feel responsible for it.

The element of “psychological ownership” is a key factor in the retention and success of many Web2 products.

Every December, social media is filled with messages about Spotify Wrapped. This is one of the most ingenious viral marketing methods. Spotify does not need to pay for advertising. Instead, users spontaneously share their listening habits, which are compiled by Spotify. They share out of curiosity, pride, or other emotions. Spotify Wrapped achieves its viral marketing by leveraging the behavior concept of “psychological ownership”.

Creating psychological attachment in Web3, not just ownership – Li Jin

Reciprocity and Subjectivity

Although Li’s viewpoint generally resonates, especially considering token and crypto projects that overly rely on speculative ownership while neglecting emotional attachment, I believe this is only half of the Web3 ownership opportunity. I believe that creating a “sense of collective” in Web3 projects is equally, if not more important and unique, than focusing on individual connections and attachments. Clearly, these two are not mutually exclusive; it is easier to create a sense of shared belonging and collective ownership when individuals and collectives have a mutual understanding of each other’s values and beliefs, and individuals can benefit from them.

In other words, returning to the basic principles of reciprocity and subjectivity, as repeatedly emphasized, they are the core elements that create a vibrant (Web3) community. Reciprocity (in values and interests) creates a symbiotic relationship between individuals and collectives, while subjectivity drives individuals to actively participate and contribute, not only for personal interests but also for the interests of the community.

Therefore, ownership becomes a social basic element that integrates individual ownership (“personal sense”) and collective ownership (“collective sense”), stemming from our desire to control, possess, and express our identity through owning objects. Collective ownership makes us feel listened to and in control, while also making us feel part of a greater whole (sense of belonging), which helps us define our identity in ourselves and in the world.

When we were still children, the desire to control drove our desire to possess things. However, as our social abilities develop, the desire for belonging and self-expression also gradually emerge. We begin to realize that ownership is not just a matter of control; it has deeper connectivity. Owning something becomes a way of belonging, self-awareness, and conveying to others our affiliation and identity. Therefore, our sense of ownership becomes more social.

From “Common Ownership as a Web3 Social Basic Element”

Personal Sense vs. Collective Sense

Combining the concepts of psychological ownership and sense of belonging is crucial for building a thriving community. By creating a sense of “personal sense” and personal investment in the community, members are more likely to develop attachment and feel a strong sense of responsibility for the community’s success. At the same time, creating a sense of belonging and shared identity will promote cooperation, collaboration, and mutual support among community members.

To achieve this goal, community builders can adopt various strategies. Firstly, they can design community experiences that allow individuals to personalize and customize their participation and overall community experience. For example, allowing members to create their own profiles, browse and curate content, or contribute to specific channels and projects can create a sense of personal investment and psychological ownership.

Secondly, community builders need to create shared experiences and values to foster a sense of belonging. This can be achieved by creating opportunities for members to connect and interact with each other, such as facilitating interactions between members, organizing discussions, hosting events, or providing opportunities for collaboration and co-creation.

Lastly, community builders can strengthen psychological ownership and a sense of belonging by recognizing and rewarding the contributions of individual members. Recognizing the personal efforts and contributions of members can create a sense of personal investment and ownership, while also reinforcing the individual’s identity and status within the community’s shared mission and value system.

Create “Personal Sensation” Strategy

  1. Personalization: Allow members to shape their experience in the community by customizing their profiles, setting preferences, or providing personalized suggestions or content.

  2. Exclusive Access: Provide members with exclusive benefits and features, such as early or VIP access, member-exclusive content, as well as privileges and discounts.

  3. Recognition: Make members feel valued and appreciated through public recognition, badges, or awards, which helps them feel a sense of belonging in the community.

  4. Gamification: Create a sense of progress or achievement for members through levels, badges, or leaderboards, which can motivate active participation and increase their self-investment in the community.

Create “Collective Sensation” Strategy

  1. Common Goals: Create a shared sense of purpose and encourage individuals to collaborate towards common goals, allowing individuals to feel ownership even when pursuing something greater than themselves.

  2. Shared Decision-making: Involve individuals in the decision-making process through surveys, voting, or focus groups, giving them a voice in shaping the direction of the community or organization.

  3. Shared Resources: Create shared resources such as shared workspaces, shared assets, or shared funds, which can encourage individuals to feel invested in the community and see themselves as part of collective efforts rather than working in isolation.

  4. Shared Responsibility: Encourage individuals to take mutual responsibility through peer review, team feedback meetings, or team evaluations, where individuals are accountable for each other’s success.

  5. Celebrating Success: Celebrate success collectively through public recognition, team celebrations, or sharing success stories.

Social Aspects of “Self-Investment” and “Self-Object Consistency”

In a community, individual self-investment is a key factor in creating a “personal sensation”. When individuals dedicate their time, energy, and emotions to the community, they develop a stronger sense of attachment and ownership towards the community.

“Self-investment” can also lead to a sense of reciprocity and social interaction, where individuals feel that their contributions are valued and appreciated by the community. This forms a positive feedback loop that motivates individuals to invest more in the community, enhancing both the “personal sensation” and a sense of belonging or “collective sensation”.

“Self-object consistency” is a psychological concept referring to the degree of similarity or alignment between an individual’s self-concept and the attributes or characteristics of a product, brand, or community. In the context of a brand or fan community, self-object consistency refers to the alignment between an individual’s self-concept and the values, beliefs, interests, or identity of the brand or community.

Self-congruence can be an important driving factor for brand or community engagement and attachment. When an individual’s self-concept aligns closely with the values or identity of a brand or community, it creates a sense of resonance and authenticity, thereby enhancing the individual’s connection with the brand or community. On the other hand, when there is a poor fit or mismatch between an individual’s self-concept and a brand or community, it may lead to a sense of incongruence and decreased involvement.

Moving towards a mixed definition of ownership and emotional attachment

In order to cultivate genuine emotional attachment, the “personal sense” and “collective sense” need to be merged together. Ownership of (Web3) brands, communities, projects, and even individual artists can be associated with four dimensions: ownership, belonging, dependence, and responsibility.

“Ownership” refers to the individual seeing the brand or community as a part of themselves, considering it as “mine”.

“Belonging” is the collective or group identity experienced when people identify with a brand or community. This can come from shared values, interests, or consumption behavior, creating a sense of belonging and connection to the brand or community.

“Dependence” refers to the individual relying on the brand or community to fulfill personal needs and uphold its commitments. This is accompanied by expectations and trust in value delivery and support when needed.

“Responsibility” refers to consumers and community members feeling a sense of responsibility to nurture, care for, and protect the brand or community. They take pride in the brand or community, while also desiring to maintain its reputation and ensure its continued success.

In summary, these four dimensions, ownership, belonging, dependence, and responsibility, help explain how consumers and community members cultivate a sense of personal and collective ownership, thereby increasing their involvement, loyalty, and support.

“Personal sense” and “collective sense” as extensions of personal identity

By combining the “personal sense” and “collective sense” at the intersection of individual control and collective belonging, a strong sense of ownership and connection can be created within a community.

When individuals feel a “personal sense,” they establish a personal connection with the brand or community as if it is a part of themselves. This personal connection creates a sense of control, with individuals feeling invested in the success of the community and capable of influencing its direction.

At the same time, the “collective sense” creates a sense of collective belonging, where individuals feel connected to something greater than themselves. This collective belonging fosters a sense of shared purpose and an emotional attachment to being part of a larger community.

When these two concepts are merged with identity, a strong sense of personal investment is created within the community. Individuals feel a personal connection with the brand or community, but this connection is also part of their broader identity. Ultimately, this creates a deep sense of belonging and connection, where individual members feel that their personal success is intertwined with the success of the community.

In summary, integrating “personal feelings” and “collective feelings” with identity can create a strong sense of ownership and connection in the community, in a way that combines personal investment and collective belonging, creating a strong sense of purpose and identity.

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