Oct 3, 2022 - Economy

How Twitter serves as the town hall of crypto

Illustration of the Twitter logo falling into a hypnotic spiral.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Twitter is different for crypto than it is for other areas of interest. To a certain extent, the discussion of the industry on Twitter isn't about the industry — it is the industry.

Why it matters: Twitter is (for now) indispensable to following blockchain technology. What might look to outsiders like idle badgering and joking, is in fact the process of people forming allegiances and making deals.

  • Crypto Twitter is the discourse layer running on top of all the various blockchains, where people collectively decide what is and isn't important from one moment to the next.

Zoom out: If you aren't on Twitter, it's a text-dominated platform that basically displays posts going from the most recent stuff back. It thrives on people liking, commenting and re-posting those text posts.

  • "Crypto Twitter" or "CT," refers to all the people tweeting about various blockchain projects all day.
  • They don't all necessarily follow or interact with each other, just as everyone in a town doesn't necessarily know everyone else, but a town still has its own character and so does CT.

What they're saying: "Crypto is 24/7/365, and it needs a medium that matches that pace," Variant Fund's Spencer Noon tells Axios.

Zoom in: Sources prominent on Crypto Twitter mostly feel that Twitter has been a useful space for the crypto industry, but not without caveats. Several say it's key to staying abreast of what's hot right now.

  • Business also gets done there. "I find it has a lot less noise/direct business marketing than LinkedIn and in a way, leads to more personal interactions with people," Hailey Lennon, a crypto-focused attorney at Brown Rudnick says.
  • "It is a great 'warm intro factory'," Castle Island Ventures Nic Carter says, though relationships need to be cemented in person, just like always.

How it works: "Twitter is kind of a 'Great Equalizer' of sorts, where broadcasting continues to be a good way for newcomers to build a brand," Archetype VC's Katherine Wu tells Axios.

The best use of Twitter depends on whether you're a trader, investor, content creator or founder, but lots of our sources pointed to Twitter's power as a place for discourse.

  • "To me what matters most is the dialogue," Adamant Research's Tuur Demeester said.
  • "Sometimes I like to just throw ideas out there to immediately connect with those that share similar interests and want to brainstorm," Linda Xie of Scalar Capital said.

Yes, but: "Crypto Twitter" isn't really one thing. It's an amalgamation of lots of different groups (mostly defined by allegiances to tokens or coins) that mostly talk to each other but also bleed over, largely through the leading influencers who like to spar with each other in public.

  • "It basically inexorably pushes you in the direction of broadcasting-only messages that would be favorably received to your in-group," Carter says.

Anyone who starts off in one sub-group of Twitter (maybe focusing on Ethereum or Bitcoin or trading or startups) will eventually be surprised by all the antagonism out there across groups.

  • "I’ve found that it can be a huge waste of time debating with someone if it’s clear they aren’t engaging in good faith," Xie says.

Threat level: It can get to be a bit much. More brain buzz than actionable intel. "It's good servant, bad master," Demeester says.

  • Or as DeFi governance gadabout, PaperImperium, put it, "It gives me that gross 'I just smoked a cigarette' feeling."
  • "It can reap huge rewards especially if you are in the content creation business, but it takes about as much as it gives," Carter cautions.

Of note: Wu, who became well known for lite but informative lawyerly content, now says she prefers the industry's newer ecosystem of high quality newsletters. "I spend probably 20 or less mins per day just to scan my feed to make sure I'm not falling behind," she says.

Details: Here are a few great moments in CT.

Worth knowing: In 2020, cyber criminals got into Twitter's admin tools and used it to promote a bitcoin scam across many of CT's most famous accounts.

Be smart: It takes a while to get your bearings on CT. There are a lot of inside jokes and in group language that takes time to learn. As Carter put it, those obstacles serve as filters to make sure folks in the conversation know something about what they're discussing.

  • "It's like an in-group binding mechanism," Matti of Zee Prime Capital says. "You feel rewarded that you're an insider if you get something, and then comes that sweet release of dopamine."

The bottom line: Don't let it be too intimidating though. If you don't get it, you're more likely to just be ignored than mocked. "My advice to people just getting started is simple: don’t hold back," Noon says.

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