Same Same, But Different: Reddit’s Step Forward Towards a Mass Adoption of Web 3

Reddit’s NFT surge has brought many new audiences into the decentralised world. It will be interesting to see how other social media platforms mainstream the next big thing in tech.
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In July this year, Reddit created its own NFT marketplace for users to buy and sell blockchain-based digital avatars through their platform. It partnered with Polygon, an Ethereum-compatible platform, to mint the avatars and store and manage them in the Vault. 

The Reddit–Polygon initiative received an overwhelming response. In fact, Reddit’s Chief Product Officer Pali Bhat recently revealed that over 3 million crypto wallets have been created through Reddit’s Vault platform to date. Of these, 2.5 million wallets were used to purchase digital avatars at the NFT marketplace. 

Crypto Twitter has been brooding over these numbers, which are believed to be higher than OpenSpace—the largest marketplace for NFTs.

Selected Reddit NFT Avatars also made it into the top 10 list of collectibles on the Open Sea platform. The co-founder of Polygon, Sandeep Nailwal, took to Twitter to share the analytics of the Reddit Collectible Avatars user traction. The data has shown the cumulative sales volume of the collectible NFT avatars crossing $2.3 Million. 

So, how was Reddit able to get users on board in its foray into Web 3?

Reddit’s ‘Collectible Avatars

In 2020, Reddit launched the ‘Avatar Builder’ feature, where users could personalise their appearance on the platform. In this new and improved version from 2015, Redditors could create an avatar from a set of countless accessories, outfits, and hairstyles. The launch added to the Reddit Premium programme by making special accessories exclusively available to those users who were a part of it. The avatar appeared on the users’ profile page and profile card. The project was considered a “unique way to create your identity on Reddit”. 

Simultaneously, Reddit collaborated with Netflix, Riot Games, and the Australian Football League (AFL) to provide custom avatars to its users. 

The Collectible Avatars Series that Reddit launched this year had them licensing nearly 30 independent artists to create limited edition avatars and sell them on the Reddit platform. 

Reddit defined the Collectible Avatars to be different from their other avatars in three ways: 

  • The Collectible Avatars are available for direct purchase, with artists being paid for each collectible sold. 
  • These avatars are blockchain-backed, providing buyers full ownership of the collectible. 
  • And finally, the users don’t need cryptocurrency to purchase the collectibles. They can be bought with government currency, with all items being sold for a fixed amount. 

The ease of understanding, along with the accessibility that Reddit has offered with the collectible series, has led its users to embrace the move.

Mass adoption of Web 3 

The credit for the acceptance of new technology goes to the carefully curated way in which Reddit managed to avoid the use of any futuristic buzzwords like ‘NFTs’ or ‘Crypto’. 

It managed to sell what technically are NFTs under the guise of ‘Collectible Avatars’, an extension of their already existing feature of ‘Avatar Builder’. 

Further, Reddit also avoided the mention of several off-putting terms and used favourable terms in their statements, such as this: 

“To store and manage Collectible Avatars, redditors will use their Vault—a blockchain-powered wallet on Reddit. A Vault gives users a specific digital wallet address that works across Ethereum-compatible blockchains; it’s the same Vault where redditors currently store Community Points.”

Reddit used the classic selling technique of ‘same same, but different’. They made the process of creating a Vault essentially Web 2. But, as with creating a crypto wallet, in the Vault too—users will be issued with a random 12-word seed phrase. Though, to the unacquainted, this could easily be interpreted as an additional security step that users must complete. 

Social media platforms are galore with users expressing how Reddit’s NFT marketing is monumental in bringing new people into the Web 3 wonderland.

Several of these platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, also jumped onto the NFT train in 2022. It’d indeed be interesting to see how they follow suit seeing Reddit’s slow and steady reinvention of their platform. However, as far as Reddit goes, this seems only like the beginning. One would have to wait and see what tools they explore to expand their market in the Web 3 space. Reddit’s commitment to Web 3 can also be seen in its statement: “Reddit has always been a model for what decentralization could look like online; our communities are self-built and run, and as part of our mission to better empower our communities.”

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Ayush Jain
Ayush is interested in knowing how technology shapes and defines our culture, and our understanding of the world. He believes in exploring reality at the intersections of technology and art, science, and politics.

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