From the hallowed halls of the tech world emerges our special guest, Katie Butler, co-founder of Distractive and marketing contributor to Moonbeam, a name that's been resonating in the crypto space with its innovative approach. Katie, a marketing chameleon, has been navigating the tech marketing terrain for over a decade. She shares her insights on the unique challenges posed by the crypto space, the role of data, and the complexity of catering to multiple audiences. Undoubtedly, her journey in crypto marketing promises to intrigue any tech-enthusiast.
Imagine a platform that aggressively pursues the best developer tools and resources to facilitate top-notch application development - that's Moonbeam. We talk about the strategies that have attracted developers to this platform and how it is leveraging hype marketing to its advantage. Katie also explains how Moonbeam took some cues from Ethereum and transformed it into a far more modern and appealing platform, resulting in a tremendous growth spurt.
Now, let's talk about influencers. Are they necessary in the world of Web3? Katie believes so, and she shares her thoughts on how to effectively utilize them. We also touch on the origins of Distractive, the challenges of working with influencers, and the decentralization of Moonbeam. Looking ahead, Katie teases some exciting projects and campaigns that are on the horizon. If you're an entrepreneur, a marketer, or a developer, you'll definitely want to hear her insights on Moonbeam's benefits. So tune in, because this is one conversation you won't want to miss!
This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on August 3, 2023. Read the blog article here: https://webdrie.net/exploring-crypto-marketing-with-katie-butler-moonbeams-success-influencer-utilization-and-the-decentralization-journey-distractive-co-founder-perspectives/
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I have been doing tech marketing, mostly for pretty early- stage startups, for a little over a decade now, and my focus has really ranged depending on where I've been. So I used to jokingly refer to myself as a marketing chameleon because I was constantly changing industries and moving to new disciplines, and new places and having to relearn skills that I had thought I had learned. But for me, I think that's been an advantage, and so it kind of gave me this approach to things that let me pull from pieces of my past and dive into things, even when much of it's unknown.Joeri:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast, season 3, episode 16. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm happy to be joined by Katie. Hi, Katie, how are you?Katie:
Hi Joeri, I'm doing great. Thank you for having me.Joeri:
So, guys, again an amazing guest you will see, but perhaps you don't know Katie Katie Butler. That's right, Katie, because on LinkedIn I see Katie Lyon Butler. So, guys, who is she? She's the co-founder of Distractive and also a marketing contributor to Moonbeam. But, Katie, I think it's interesting for our listeners that you talk a bit more about your background and exactly what you are doing at Distractive and at Moonbeam these days.Katie:
Yeah, bold of you to assume that I know what I'm doing here. It seems like every day is another surprise in this space. But just to give you a sense of sort of my background and how I landed here, I have been doing tech marketing, mostly for pretty early- stage startups, for a little over a decade now, and my focus has really ranged depending on where I've been. So I used to jokingly refer to myself as a marketing chameleon because I was constantly changing industries and moving to new disciplines, and new places and having to relearn skills that I had thought I had learned. But for me, I think that's been an advantage, and so it kind of gave me this approach to things that let me, you know, pull from pieces of my past and dive into things, even when much of it's unknown. And so I ended up actually in the crypto space about four years ago when I found this tiny little company called PeerStake and they were looking for an early marketing hire. They were really focused on developer infrastructure at the time for the Web 3 space, and what I loved about it is I just like marketing to software engineers. I'd done that in the past and I saw another opportunity to do that. So I sort of hopped on board and figured it out as I went, and I think you know my willingness to deal with the unknown was certainly a great skill to bring into the space. So I've been working on the project that was created by PeerStake, which is Moonbeam, for almost four years now, and has recently formed an agency that you referenced earlier called Distractive, so that's a marketing agency focused on all sorts of emerging Web 3 startups. Of course, our bread and butter are Moonbeam and the Moonbeam ecosystem, so that's where I spend my time today.Joeri:
Well, it sounds like it is amazing. These may be amazing times. There are also different challenges and different opportunities in Web 3 compared to what we had before in Web 2. Can you talk a bit about that, the differences that you see of maybe the specific challenges, and opportunities that we have now?Katie:
Yeah, I think the two that I see as most challenging sort of throughout my experience here has been, you know, the first is data, right, so in Web 2, we're all very spoiled as marketers by the amount of data we get from many different sources because we're tracking so many things and we have that end-to-end visibility. You know who your customers are, you know who's using your platform most actively and what they're using, and so to transition from that sort of world to a place where you don't know how a Twitter user relates to your on-chain user and whether those users are happy, that is extremely challenging. So I think there's that component of it which is you know what's the right balance of you know respecting privacy but also getting data to make sure we're making things that are useful to people. And then the second big problem from my perspective has been just the number of audiences you have to deal with. Right, like typically in you know, a B2B type company you're dealing with, you know, an audience that you sell to, you're buying audience. And then you have your end users, who you need to keep happy, but they're sort of an indirect audience. Here. We have, of course, builders, who we want to build on top of Moonbeam. We have users of those applications built on top of Moonbeam, and then there's this whole retail audience, which is sort of what people are most familiar with from a crypto perspective. So balancing all three needs makes sure we're creating messaging that resonates with all of those audiences. It's extremely challenging and it's something that will continue to work on and improve as we deepen.Joeri:
You know some of the activities that we've been focusing on for Moonbeam Right, actually, I have a few questions about Moonbeam, but first, for our listeners, can you explain a bit more? Yeah, what is Moonbeam and what are you guys doing at Moonbeam?Katie:
Yeah, for Moonbeam we're focused on what we call cross-chain connected applications, so that's sort of a mouthful, but really what we're focusing on is building a platform where applications can produce net positive experiences for users. Like I think we can probably all agree, that if you've used a crypto application today, you've had a lot of friction, and if you're in any way trying to use many different platforms, that friction only grows exponentially. And so what we're trying to do is say let's just give developers all the tools they need to abstract that away and deliver an experience that's closer to what people expect. So just to give you a sense of what that means why are we moving tokens between networks and forcing users to do those movements, find those bridges, research those swaps, and wrap those tokens that's a lot of friction for a person to absorb. Why don't we leave them where they are and why don't we communicate between these chains? And so a lot of advancements have happened recently that allow us to bring those tool sets to Moonbeam. There's a thing called general message passing. I'll spare you the details, but essentially these are the communication mechanisms between chains. But what that means for Moonbeam is we've been very aggressive in getting all of the best developer tools and resources to allow better applications to be built on top of Moonbeam. So that's what we've been focusing on. Our brand and butter have historically been, you know, we're the leading smart contract platform on top of Polkadot. We were sort of an early winner there and the first chain to fully launch the biggest crowd loan in history on top of Polkadot, and so there's a lot to be proud of, I think, in terms of our role there. We look at, when we look ahead to the future you know, how are all of these chains going to work together and ultimately, like, is a user going to know or care if something is built on Polkadot or even partially built on Polkadot in another chain? So we're trying to work in that spot to reduce the ambiguity, provide those developer resources that people need to help building, to help build better applications.Joeri:
Okay, and so you are in the marketing role, Katie. So interesting for me because our audience is also a lot of marketers are in there. So how does Moonbeam attract developers to build on this platform and how do you do this with your marketing activities?Katie:
So the first and most obvious thing that we did early and often was to provide a really great developer experience, and that's not something that normally would fall within the realm of marketing right, like there's not much that would normally do that. But I was very much in the trenches with our developer relations lead to build out our documentation site to make sure we had like great videos and great tutorials, which, of course, he's like amazing at this sort of stuff. So you get a great job building all this stuff out, but those are resources that are really key to what we do. So that, plus the leadership of Derek Yu, who was the founder of Moonbeam, really created this like cocktail of resources between you know a great architecture and design, great resources from the developer relations team, and then, of course, marketing is really just accessing that stuff right, making sure people can get to it, can find it and can use it. So all of those things led to a world where we got a lot of projects very quickly. We had I don't remember the numbers now probably like 50 or 60 projects that had already said they're planning to build on Moonbeam before we even really were, within six months of launch, and so that, to us was extremely valuable because when they start to deploy on our test net and they realize, hey, this is way easier than any other EBM based environment I've seen you guys should try that Then we get that kind of word of mouth and referral based network effect right. So that was an extremely valuable early way for us to get developers building on Moonbeam and from there, it's just being visible and building excitement, particularly into the launch, which was where we spent the majority of 2021. So we had a lot of momentum and within ourselves from just market, you know market forces being in our favor, I think. But people were also generally excited and it's not often that you see so much interest in a developer- focused platform. But I like to think that the fact that we were kind of true to what we do and we delivered consistently on what we said we would deliver really blended themselves to building that early community sport that helped propel us into the crowd vote and into our launch.Joeri:
So we had the launch, for you guys was really important and people are because that's a good place to be in that you have so many people interested. But, like you know what we call hype marketing at the beginning when launching those projects. Nowadays okay, we are now a few years later people look at it differently and hype marketing is not maybe is this still the thing you would think for to grow your Web3 business, or how do you see that? Can it be beneficial still or more detrimental if you use it?Katie:
I like to think of it as like sugar consumption a little bit. So you sometimes need a burst of energy, right, but if that's all you've had for the day, then when you come crashing down it's going to be a pretty hard crash. And so what I look at when I see these sorts of tactics is I think there's some principles. So, to give you an example, when we were working on the crowdloan for Moon River, we looked at the tokenomics and we're kind of we're expecting that this was just a favorable tokenomics situation for many community users, right? So there was like 20% of the total token supply was going to be allocated to our crowdloan participants, and so that, to us, was great. We hoped people would get excited, but we got a lot of questions of like well, such-and-such project has like a 1% bonus, if I refer 10 friends and all of these sorts of game mechanics. And that was tough for us, right, because we want to do well and we want to be, you know, the top dog, the top project. But we decided not to engage in those sorts of tactics and, you know, at the end of the day, the crowdloan did end up being very favorable in terms of number of tokens distributed based on like the total supply. So I think in that instance, like we ended up getting hype from the favorable tokenomics and not the, the machinations leading up to it. So I tend to look at things like that you know where are your principles and do you want to stick with it, and even if it's maybe at the time not clearly the best decision, is that what you want to stick with. And then, secondarily, when it comes to like building hype, I like to try to build hype around things that are substantive and not hype around hype. Right, and it can be really tough because you want everyone to be excited about what you're working on. You want to have that frenzy of social media activity and tokenomic activity, depending on what your project is, and so all of those things are attractive and alluring, but at the end of the day, especially as someone who was formerly in the B2B space, I do tend to kind of follow my laurels. Where I look to, what do we think is going to produce substantive growth? And then how can we get people excited about that? And maybe you know, like that sugar high. Maybe the highs aren't always so high, but they're real. And like sustain users over a longer period of time.Joeri:
I like that metaphor of comparison with sugar, because you have real sugar, you have fake sugar, you have sugar from fruit, you have sugar that don't make these differences in your blood, like you know, and I understand what you mean, and sometimes it's good to have that, but you need to have a roadmap of a long-term plan where you are going, and not just by eating sugar. You should have a vision, of course, and then I think you have proven that. Okay, you need to start somewhere and, of course, you want to be motivated and you want to see that it is working. Of course, one of the things that a lot of guests on my show have talked about is community building, because that's, in Web 3, more important than ever, I think. Maybe can you talk a bit about that, how your approach on community management has helped you to get success that you have right now with Moonbeam.Katie:
Sure, we were really fortunate that we had a very engaged and active community early on, because we actually started the Moonbeam project in much the same environment that we're in now. So it was late 2019, over Christmas, you know, our founder had sort of gone away and coded kind of like a prototype based on substrate, which is this framework that Polkadot founder Gatynwood has created. So, at any rate, we had very similar circumstances then and we had kind of a quiet launch. We had a couple folks who were sort of interested in what we were doing at that time. This was early 2020. Now, it wasn't really clear what an EVM was on top of a different network At that time. Everyone's like, so you're on Ethereum? It's like no. It's like, so you're a fork of Ethereum, it's like no, we've taken the best bits and put it on a more modern platform, and now we take that for granted, everyone knows what that is.Joeri:
There's a million EVMs. We see them all the time.Katie:
And so we had sort of like a slow ramp up there where, that summer, I remember, we had, you know, a couple folks who were kind of excited about what we were doing start to pass our telegram link around and we started to get, you know, first a thousand and then a couple thousand and then 10,000 people in our telegram and then, of course, in 2021, you know, we really hit the gas in terms of our acceleration toward launch. But then, of course, everybody was on the hunt for the next big project, so our timing, I think, was really fortunate. Now we're in a place where we're trying to figure out, like, what does it mean to have a community? What's the difference between community marketing and sort of broad comms to a bigger audience in the other forms of marketing that we might? do through PR and awareness building. So with all of those sorts of things, we're starting to redefine what community means to us, and that of course feeds back into what we're doing on the community side and our engagement strategies there. So for us, what we've sort of landed on as a line in the sand to some degree is that we have activities that we engage with for people who are not yet users in some capacity at Moonbeam, and then our community is people who are users in some capacity, and that, I think, is a pretty different approach. Because you'll look at community, usually I think a lot of teams tend to rely on retail. Right, my retail is my community. I don't think that's quite right. You know it's much more about has someone taken that step to bring a token to your network and actively stake it with you? Know an infrastructure provider there? Has someone actually used some of the applications on your network? And because we're this platform with so many applications on top, that's a really important conversion point for us. So we've sort of drawn the line in the sand there and we're now sort of branching out these teams to be a little bit more defined and separate so that we can have focus on those community members who are active and engaged, and then marketing's directive becomes. How do you convert people to those community members? How do you get more people to come try our applications to stake with us, to vote on in on-chain governance and so forth? So there's I know that's not like 100% answering your question, but there's sort of like a lot of these distinctions that we've been working on pretty actively lately and that I think will start to drive what we do in the future versus, you know, what we've done in the past. I think is pretty true to what other folks have done with community. We've just been like really diligent about making sure we're executing and staying true to what we told the community we would do.Joeri:
Yeah, I like his approach because every you know business or situation is different, what you can do with the community and what it brings to you, and then why people join your community and not all the one community and your community. I think it's really specific. Where do you, where did you build it? You mentioned Telegram, or is it on others, on Discord, or where are you communicating with your community or measuring his engagement?Katie:
So it's dispersed, I would say. We have some community members on Telegram and Discord. We're working on coming up with, potentially, a Twitter handle that we can launch that's focused on our community, that they can follow for maybe more specific day-to-day type updates. So I mentioned governance earlier. There's lots of governance motions constantly going through Moonbeam and some of that stuff is. It's just a lot of information for people who are maybe casual followers of Moonbeam to engage with. So we're starting to work that out. But the goal is essentially to have like at least one strong communication channel for that community, which will be Twitter, and then, outside of that, to have sort of sub communities of different kinds of community members. So we have, of course, our ambassadors. I think lots of Web3 projects have really strong ambassador programs. We have collators, which is like kind of similar to a validator. We just it serves a slightly different purpose in Polkadot and delegators. So these are people who are essentially like I hate to use the word politicians, but they're where the vote has been delegated to, to help kind of abstract from users how much time they're spending day-to-day voting, and on-chain governance you can instead delegate your vote to another person who you think is skilled in one area or another to vote on your behalf, which is also something that's built into Polkadot, but we're very excited to roll out a front end and a UI to interact with that soon.Joeri:
Yeah, I noticed that people still talk about Twitter instead of X. It's still, like you know, I'm not used to it, but now I'm just noticing it because I'm talking to a lot of people and but indeed community building, communication, Twitter can be really good places to be. Another way, another channel, is influencers, so I'm curious to hear from you what is your vision about influencers in the Web3 world, and are you also using them for Moonbeam?Katie:
So we've always been extremely light on the influencer front. I think some of that we can improve upon. Some of that is sort of fine to not be overly dependent on influencers, but I think what we're trying to do from our perspective is understand better which influencers actually influence, which are the ones that get people excited enough that they go do something. And again, where we've sort of rearchitected everything that we're doing from a marketing perspective around the idea of converting someone to an actual user. It's not about, like, retail token purchases for us, right, like, we've never focused on that. That isn't the bread and butter of what we do. We want to know, like, what are the messages that really help people get excited enough to come use Moonbeam, come use applications on Moonbeam? So, with that in mind, we are looking to hopefully roll out more influencer programs. I'm optimistic this fall and in that I'm focusing on which ones are actually going to help drive interest in Moonbeam as a platform, as a brand, as an experience. And then, of course, I think the other challenge that many marketers deal with is this like, I think there's a lot of influencers who have extremely high expectations for, like, what they'll get for working with a brand or something like that. And for us it's challenging because we don't get to work with them on content and we don't get to work with them on storylines often that we think would be helpful for Moonbeam. And so it's a balance between, like, what can you afford for a budget perspective, what makes sense for what you expect the lift to be? And then, of course, like is this ultimately going to help me get my work, my name, out there, spread the word and get people excited about what Moonbeam has coming this fall?Joeri:
Amazing. But, Katie, you are not only representing Moonbeam but also Destractive. So, and it's, I was wondering the name Destractive. Where does that come from? What does that mean?Katie:
So the idea is essentially, you know, I think in crypto if I've learned anything, it's to not take yourself too seriously. And so the idea is to have like a tongue-in-cheek play on marketing and advertising as distracting you were getting in your way. And so the idea from my perspective is like, yeah, we want to be distracted, but, like you know, the right kind of distraction, a welcome distraction in many ways. So we actually formed and we as Nate Hamilton and I, my co-founder, we formed Distractive earlier this year in May, and the whole goal, at least for right now, is to continue being able to serve Moonbeam, which is what we do today, but to make room for other contributors to come in and add to Moonbeam and work with the Moonbeam Foundation to help kind of perpetuate and grow the brand. So that was sort of you know the origin story and where we came from. But, looking forward, you know we fully expect to work with lots of different Win3 companies and projects that are looking to either launch or grow their marketing footprint, and so we have obviously a great body of experience from Moonbeam and from other projects that we've worked with in that Moonbeam ecosystem. I'd love to work with more Moonbeam ecosystem projects, of course, because that's the I think that's the easy win for us. We get to see Moonbeam grow and we get to see projects on top of it grow as well. But we're kind of open. We'll see where the year takes us. Right now we do still have a pretty solid Moonbeam focus, which is sort of where most of my talk track comes from. Right, like that's what I work on all day.Joeri:
Okay, but there is exciting stuff you know on the horizon for you. Are there things that you can already mention, that you are excited about? You know within your work at Moonbeam or for Distractive, or is there maybe a trend in Web 3 where you are excited about these days?Katie:
So I think, from their both Moonbeam focus. So I think the two things that are most exciting to me about Moonbeam right now first, on the marketing front is, you know, I'm sure many teams are doing this now. We're sort of taking the time to do things the right way that we wish we could have done in 2021, but we are so busy that we didn't have the time, and so we're rethinking our branding, our messaging, our approach to marketing and, of course, our website, which is sort of that digital storefront. So I think we're very excited. I'm very excited to see where that leads and that's sort of, you know, the ammunition for doing a bigger fall campaign, which I look forward to being able to do. The second piece I sort of alluded to this earlier, but this is the decentralization of Moonbeam and it's a really tough project. So we you know Nate and I had seen an opportunity for marketing to sort of be an independent entity. There are also now other independent entities that also service Moonbeam. So the engineering team has formed a new organization called Moonsung Labs, the Ops organization is now Opslayer and the developer relations team is also independent, which is Paper Moon, and so you have sort of this. You know we refer to it as like a constellation of ecosystem teams working all on the same project still, but trying to make sure we're not having too much churn between all of these different contributors to the ecosystem. So, from my perspective, you know I've spent a lot of time on that in terms of making our transition as distractive and now trying to see what it looks like coming out the other side and what other decentralization efforts will continue to take on over time. But this is something that you know we feel strongly about as a key point for Moonbeam, a key, I think it goes back to what I was saying earlier about you know, doing what you say you're going to do and being true to your principles, and we do believe that continued decentralization on a spectrum in perpetuity, forever, is extremely important, and so this was, you know, a huge initiative to get there, and we'll continue to further decentralize things through governance and all of that. But you actually don't see that many teams working on projects like this, and it feels like now's the time. Now's the time to sort of undertake these sorts of initiatives that make you stronger in the end. Right, you get a better diversity of opinions coming in. You maybe get a little bit of wackiness coming from the community and people trying to gamify things, but I think it's all sort of a net positive as you're sort of navigating it and trying to figure out what the right level of decentralization is and how it will positively impact the project.Joeri:
Yeah, it's an amazing thing at decentralization. When I need to explain to people what this Web3 is about, that's always, of course, one of the things I need to explain. Now, as I mentioned, the listeners to this podcast. Some already in web three. Some are not yet in it but are looking at it. Some are marketers, where you and I were some time ago. You know, what would you advise to people that are on the fence or they are looking at Web 3 and they want to do something, they want to make their mark in the Web3 space? What would you advise to them?Katie:
The biggest thing from my perspective is stop waiting for permission and just dive in Right. That's the beauty of what we do is, even if you're not really sure if this is the space for you, it takes very little effort to go join an ambassador program and start to figure out a project and whether you like that project or not, and it's a really great way to get some exposure to what it is like to be part of a community, what it's like to be part of this Web3 space, where you can go and contribute freelance to something anywhere. There's so many dows that you can become part of. There's almost like a freeing opportunity there. But the second component of that is you're never going to be ready. The smartest minds from every conceivable discipline are already in this space. Like we have the smartest finance people, the smartest economists and lawyers and engineers and marketers. We have a lot of really great people already in this space. You're never going to master all of those different facets of crypto and so dive in, figure out what you like and do more of that. Like it's really. It sounds simple at the outset, but there's often a lot of ways to just message someone on Telegram and say, like hey, I really like what you guys are doing. I would love to put five hours of time into your project on an ongoing basis, like do you guys have value for that? There's a lot of opportunities like that. So I would say, like, dive in. I can't wait to see more really talented marketers in particular, but just any sort of especially like back of house people, right, like a lot of non-engineers and folks who are better at like maybe articulating some of the roles and value prop behind the industry. All of those things would be extremely valuable to see come into the space.Joeri:
Yeah, that's a bit of my background too, like the marketing side, and I had also an IT company before and so on. But when I was, you know, starting in the web three space, I joined a discord. I met Mark Schaefer, who was at that moment he had the rally coin Doesn't exist anymore. But I said in his community is full of marketers, let's do events in the metaverse. And I started to do them and people showed up and people were excited about these. And then I did like a class about NFTs and people listened to it and it was just like by doing that, you meet people, you see the opportunities, you explain it by doing my podcast. The same thing, Katie I meet people like you. I learned also that way by listening to podcasts, but also by inviting guests. So, Katie, it was so good to have you on my show, but I guess people that are listening to you and they want to know more. What would be the best way for them to contact you or to follow you?Katie:
Let's say, contacting me is going to be email Katie@ distractive. xyz, and if you want to find out about Moonbeam, you can always find out more on Moonbeam. network.Joeri:
Okay, we will for sure put everything in the show notes. So, as my listeners know, every time they are shown there is a blog article that will be in infographics later also, which will be posted, maybe some reels. So thank you, katie, it was really a joy to have you on my show.Katie:
Yeah, thank you so much. This has been fun.Joeri:
So, guys, again an amazing podcast episode. And so now you have listened to the show and you think, wow, what Katie explained. This can really be useful for people around me entrepreneurs, marketers, developers with an interest in the Web3 space, or maybe already in there. Feel free to share this podcast episode with them If you are not yet subscribed to the show. Yes, please do that, and, of course, I would like to see you back for the next podcast episode. Take care, bye.