Despite the recent hype around riend.tech, some decentralized social networks are still struggling to attract and retain users on their platforms. This article will explore the various challenges faced by decentralized social (DeSo) media platforms and discuss potential solutions.
One of the major hurdles faced by DeSo platforms is the onboarding process. Ed Moss, the head of growth for DeSo, acknowledges that the process of acquiring cryptocurrencies, setting up wallets, and dealing with high transaction fees can be tedious and expensive for first-time users. In fact, research suggests that as much as 99% of mainstream users give up during this initial onboarding step. Moss emphasizes the importance of simplifying this flow to ensure a more frictionless experience for users.
Even before the onboarding process begins, prospective users often face a significant knowledge gap when it comes to blockchain technology, smart contracts, and wallets. Suhail Kakar, the creator of DeSo app Onboard, highlights this issue and explains that many users shy away from taking the first step due to unfamiliarity with these concepts. Bridging this knowledge gap and making blockchain technology more accessible to mainstream users is crucial for the success of DeSo platforms.
One of the biggest challenges for DeSo platforms is catching up to the massive network effects of centralized social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Kakar compares joining DeSo apps to attending a party where you don’t know anyone. Building strong communities within these decentralized platforms is essential, and bringing top-tier creators and influencers on board could act as a tipping point. Users tend to follow high-quality content, so attracting popular creators can significantly enhance the appeal and user base of DeSo platforms.
Moss argues that another reason decentralized social media hasn’t gained widespread adoption is because existing smart contract platforms like Ethereum are not specifically designed to handle social media applications at scale. He suggests that a “storage-heavy” or “infinite-state” blockchain is needed to store large amounts of data at a low cost, enabling full decentralization and ownership of content for end-users. Without such a solution, users may never truly own their content, identity, and social connections.
While decentralized social media platforms face numerous challenges, there are success stories that demonstrate their potential. For example, Friend.tech, a Base-powered social platform, has seen significant uptake in recent weeks. It allows creators to connect with their audience through tokenized attention, where a creator’s influence is represented by tradable shares or keys. Since its launch, Friend.tech has attracted over 85,000 users and received over 630,000 requests to the network. However, some industry pundits remain skeptical about the sustainability of this model and consider it a temporary fad.
Despite the challenges, sales revenue from decentralized social media networks is projected to reach $12.1 billion in 2023, with an estimated growth rate of 23.6% that could surpass $101 billion by 2033. Clearly, there is potential for decentralized social media to thrive in the coming years. Apart from Friend.tech, other platforms like Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky, Mastodon, and Lens Protocol are also exploring decentralized alternatives to traditional social media.
Decentralized social networks face significant challenges in attracting and retaining users. The onboarding process, the knowledge gap, networking effects, and scaling issues are all hurdles that need to be addressed. However, with the potential for substantial revenue growth and the involvement of influential creators, decentralized social media platforms have the opportunity to reshape the landscape of online social interactions. It remains to be seen whether they can overcome these obstacles and provide a compelling alternative to centralized social media platforms.