Executives Sound Alarm on Retention Hurdles for Decentralized Social Network Friend.tech
While the ascent of decentralized social platform Friend.tech has been swift, industry leaders contend that the realm of decentralized social media applications still grapples with substantial obstacles in attracting and retaining users.
Despite the recent surge in popularity of the decentralized social app Friend.tech, industry insiders argue that substantial work remains to be done, as a significant number of platforms continue to face significant challenges in convincing users to register and remain engaged on their platforms.
Two high-ranking figures in the domain of decentralized social (DeSo) media have revealed that up to 99% of users venturing into the DeSo sphere for the first time end up discontinuing their engagement, primarily due to cumbersome onboarding processes or a lack of established connections.
Ed Moss, heading the growth initiatives at DeSo’s layer-1 blockchain enterprise, has noted that the progression of cryptocurrency involvement, starting from exchange interaction to wallet setup with a linked Chrome extension, and culminating in substantial gas fees for on-chain or cross-chain transactions, proves to be laborious and expensive for novice users.
“Our research indicates that almost all mainstream users abandon the process at this initial stage, underscoring the vital importance of streamlining this procedure,” Moss explained, underscoring the critical nature of an effortless onboarding process.
Nevertheless, challenges can arise even earlier in the user journey, according to Suhail Kakar, the mastermind behind DeSo application Onboard. The requirement for users to acquaint themselves with blockchain mechanisms, smart contracts, and digital wallets prior to registration frequently discourages potential users from taking their first steps.
“Similar to attending a gathering where you’re unfamiliar with anyone,” Kakar aptly analogized.
Rivalling the considerable network effects wielded by conventional web2 social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) presents an additional uphill battle.
Kakar contends that DeSo apps must invest more effort in fostering their communities, as achieving visibility in these platforms resembles attending a social event where attendees are mostly strangers.
He anticipates a tipping point when prominent creators and influencers migrate to blockchain platforms, hypothesizing that users will naturally gravitate towards quality content.
April’s data highlights the substantial gap, with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter amassing approximately 2.98 billion, 2 billion, and 372.9 million monthly active users, respectively. In contrast, Odysee, one of the most frequented decentralized social networks, reported a mere average of 5.3 million monthly unique users between January and April, as per CoinGecko statistics.
Moss argues that the lack of broader adoption of decentralized social media can also be attributed to Ethereum and similar smart contract platforms not being purpose-built for accommodating large-scale social applications.
In his view, the optimal solution entails architecting a “storage-heavy” or “infinite-state” blockchain, capable of cost-effectively storing and indexing substantial data volumes, encompassing actions like ‘posts,’ ‘likes,’ ‘follows,’ ‘comments,’ and ‘social graphs,’ enabling comprehensive decentralization sans corporate or governmental control.
Without such infrastructure, Moss opines that end-users might never attain complete ownership of their content, identity, and social connections.
The Exception to the Trend? Friend.tech’s Prospects
Friend.tech, a social platform underpinned by the Base protocol, has recently enjoyed remarkable traction.
The platform offers creators an avenue to connect with their audience through tokenized attention, translating a creator’s influence into tradable shares or keys that unlock exclusive private chat rooms.
Since its launch earlier this month, Friend.tech has attracted over 85,000 users across more than 127,000 wallets, generating over 630,000 network requests collectively, as reported by CoinGecko.
However, some industry experts caution that this model might succumb to a short-lived trend, with opinions differing on its sustained viability.
Forecasts indicate that revenue from decentralized social media networks could reach $12.1 billion in 2023 and potentially surpass $101 billion by 2033, reflecting an annual growth rate of 23.6%, according to Future Markets Insights.
Among the landscape of decentralized social media networks are projects such as Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky, serving as a decentralized alternative to Twitter, along with Mastodon and Lens Protocol.