Telling my wife that I just spent $1,000 on a little digital cartoon character called a Toy Booger was officially the most awkward conversation of Thanksgiving this year.
It’s a weird time we’re living in. I can’t say it made sense to me when I first learned about NFTs either. But Toy Boogers was the first time I really leaned into an NFT community, and finally “got it”.
I wasn’t early to the project… at least not at “mint” (when the collection is first released). I bought it on OpenSea a couple days later. I only discovered it through OpenSea’s trending section and something about the artwork just caught my eye. I haven’t liked a lot of the NFT art I’ve seen so far but these little guys seemed quirky, fun, and relatable.
I joined the Discord and found a fun community filled with booger puns and generally positive, friendly vibes. After half a day of browsing boogers and building up the confidence to spend that much money, I picked up my first booger.
24 hours later I picked up another one… this time for $2k.
Here are some of my observations from my first ride on an NFT roller coaster about what worked well and some of the unique community dynamics:
1. It’s addicting.
Over the Thanksgiving break I’d find myself drawn back to the Discord to see what’s been happening. There was a steady stream of activity, the artist Doug was actively engaging with everyone, announcements kept flowing in, popular NFT collectors and influencers started buying boogers and some would join in the community… it felt like I just found a great party and the FOMO was real.
Being a part of an NFT community with momentum is intoxicating. This community in particular was playful, silly, and creative. There were giveaways every day. Members made memes, edited their boogers, created group artwork… it felt very different from the more professional and interest-based communities I’ve long built and participated in.
2. The financial upside is everpresent
Of course there’s also the rush of feeling like you might just be in on a project early that’s primed to take off, and become quite valuable.
Now, you don’t want to be TOO financially driven in these communities. Anyone who joined in who immediately asked about “rarity rankings” or expected price increases were quickly told off by mods and other community members.
What was celebrated in the community was a genuine love for the art and wanting to be a part of something.
It was common for people to say that they were buying multiple Boogers so that they could always sell some, but hold onto at least one.
Members were encouraged to buy boogers that they liked, not ones they thought would be valuable.
The truth is, the financial upside is impossible to ignore, and I think it’s at least SOME part of the motivation to buy an NFT for every owner. That said, I strongly believe that for most people, it’s not all about the money. They genuinely love the art and community.
The vibe I get is that people feel like they’re buying into a community and an art project early, and if their commitment to it results in a big financial win, then they feels really good.
I also get the vibe that if the floor (the lowest price that an NFT in the collection is selling for) goes to zero, the community would quickly dissipate. Money isn’t the only reason to be there, but without it, there is no community.
Whales make waves
The community really kicked into high gear when a whale (what you call a wealthy individual who makes big investments) comes in. In the Booger community, that quickly became a member known as BoogerSaurusRex who bought over 100 boogers.
They didn’t just “sweep the floor” which is what it’s called when you buy up a bunch of the lowest priced NFTs in the collection. They also bought expensive and seemingly "rare” artworks.
That excited the community especially because they were really active and thoughtful in the community, not just an anonymous bulk-buyer. The whale was so confident that Boogers would be a big thing that it made everyone else feel confident.
Boogers stick together
People who own Toy Boogers don’t have much in common outside of liking the art and feeling like they’re a part of something fun together. The rallying cry and hashtag became #boogerssticktogether. It feels a lot more like a gaming community.
This makes me question the longevity of these communities. Once the immediate buzz fades around an art project, what is the utility of the community? What will keep people coming back?
This is where having a clear “roadmap” comes in. Most successful NFTs and DAOs have a clear roadmap that lays out some of the exciting things they plan to do with the NFTs and community.
The community has lots of ideas for what can be created around the art too. Swag, TV shows, liquor brands… anything!
Like a lot of other NFT projects, Toy Boogers gives owners full rights to adapt, edit, and use their Boogers however they want. Want to use your Booger as a logo for a clothing line? Go for it!
What gets people most excited about owning an NFT is the access and opportunities that ownership might bring. If you own a Bored Ape, you now have access to a physical club in NYC, exclusive parties, a valuable network, etc. And owning a valuable NFT usually gets you rights to be the first to buy into other NFT projects.
Artists Know Artists
One of the coolest parts of the community was seeing other NFT artists like the creators of Cool Cats and Robotos buy Boogers and get involved in the community.
Doug quickly announced a partnership with Cool Cats that will give Toy Boogers owners a chance to be on the early sale list for Cool Pets, a companion project that’s launching.
Doug would do interviews with other artists on Spaces and interact with them on Twitter. He bought a VeeFriend (Gary Vee’s NFT project) and Gary bought a booger.
It’s definitely a connected network of artists and creators in the NFT world, and a lot of projects come from people who are plugged into that network.
To PFP or Not to PFP
A big component of NFT projects is the use of the artwork as your PFP (profile picture). In Discord, if you pay for their premium subscription Nitro, you can use a different PFP in each community you’re in. So almost everyone in the Booger community had a Booger as their PFP.
But the question then becomes, do you use your PFP elsewhere? Twitter is the biggest win for a lot of these projects. If a project is successful enough that it carries social status with it, people will use it on Twitter, which becomes massive, free marketing for the project.
I made twitter PFP my Booger, in part because I love the art and I feel like my little Booger is a good representation of my energy. I also wanted to support the project and Doug.
I haven’t seen many others make Boogers into their Twitter PFP, which makes me think that it just hasn’t become a status symbol yet.
If I could sum up what I think worked really well in this project so that you can apply the lessons to your own NFT projects:
The artist/creator has to be actively involved in the community
Have a steady cadence of giveaways and announcements in the first week
Keep your discord channels to a minimum to center conversation and activity in one place
Make great art (duh)
The artist/creator should be active in doing interviews and showing up in other communities
Don’t let people talk about rarity too much in the early days, focus on the art. The Booger mods would tell people not to use any rarity tools since they’re not official (yet) and could mislead people
Filter out buy/sell posts into its own channel
Encourage and reward members for creating artwork and memes with their NFTs
Reward members for being active in the community. Boogers used a tool where members level up by being active, and they have to reach level 5 to be able to do things like vote in contests, use gifs, post links, etc. They also didn’t let anyone post links or gifs for the first few days to keep the feed clean
Other notes and musings:
I spent the last three months working with Lenny Rachitsky on “A Founders Guide to Community”, a 6,400-word post in Lenny’s Newsletter walking startups through whether or not they should invest in community, and how to get started. Here are the highlights and a link to the guide.
We’re throwing our epic annual CMX Winter Soiree next week. The theme is “community-led events”, we’ll have speakers and a bunch of fun virtual experiences and suprises. Bring a scarf!
If a web3 project is successful, it becomes more inaccessible. Is this a bug or a feature of web3? If it’s a bug, what are the solutions? If it’s a feature, will web3 ever be mainstream?
I interviewed a Party Scientist this week. Jaques approach will make your events (virtual or in person) a lot better… I promise.
I also interviewed Cooper Turley and Tiffany Zhong about the role of community in web3. Perfect for any community builder looking to better understand how to get involved in web3.
I was interviewed on the Seed Club podcast about community building in web3. Jesse is one of the leaders in the world of DAOs and asked some great questions about the application of community in web3.
That’s all for now. Comment or hit reply with your own notes and musings, or your own ride on the NFT roller coaster. I love hearing from you all!