Who is Mike Merrill?
Today’s special guest is Mike Merrill, the creator and community evangelist for Roll, a company specializing in the intersection between the online community and the web. Roll specifically uses social money, or social tokens, to help creators connect these two.
“Social tokens … [is[ this idea of turning the value of a community into a digital asset and what happens when you do that? … It becomes a digital asset”
If you’re familiar with NFTs, NFTs are a type of social money, but they can’t be replicated because of their unique ID, whereas most social tokens can be plentiful, and it doesn’t matter which one you have. There is a limited amount of social tokens, so companies like Roll mint them with a creator with some kind of maximum, such as 10 million tokens. When someone purchases a social token, they know that there will only be that set amount associated with that creator or project ever, which creates a new kind of stable currency effectively.
Social money is created out of the emotional value a community has. For example, many online content creators have passionate fan bases, which result in large amounts of social media love, such as high view counts, likes, follows, etc. Social money takes this emotional value that content creators have on certain platforms and puts it into the hands of the creator and their community outside social media platforms. This gives the influencer great control over their emotional value as a creator.
Social money owners can then list their social money for a certain price, exchange services, or give it back to their community over time. This results in social money being worth different monetary prices, with some creators having social money worth $11 a unit, while others may only have ones worth ten cents per unit.
Can Anyone Have Social Money?
“Honestly anyone. It’s … sort of like having a website in the sense that there is just a little bit of technical knowledge and how to do it. Roll has a system that we’ve developed that kind of operates on a little bit of these certain standards. Like I mentioned, we always mint these 10 million tokens, but our way of doing it is not the only way and people can do it completely on their own.”
Mike shares that Roll is more focused on minting the social money and setting up an underlying structure that people with social tokens can use, rather than getting more creators to make social money through them.
For example, many people don’t have their own digital wallets to hold crypto or social money. Roll has a “custodial wallet” that allows creators to send social money to new people via a URL or QR code, allowing creators to easily share their social money, even with people that don’t previously have experience in the social money world.
“And I would say specifically for getting your audience to engage with each other because I think that’s the power of the social token is you’re giving ownership of the community layer to the community itself.”
Often, creators will give audience members with social money a personalized message, access to a personal discord with a small number of people, information on the behind-the-scenes of the influencer’s life, and more.
The Professor’s $CROSS Token
The Professor is known as the world’s most recognizable streetball player, and he launched his social money to give fans unique, exclusive benefits. The Professor is an excellent example of Roll and social money’s top levels of success because of his dedication to his community and engagement with those who have his social money, the $CROSS Token.
The Professor partnered with Roll and Web3 company, Fetti, to create this token. His token allows him to relate and interact with his basketball community more. Examples of how he rewards fans with social money include one-on-one interactions, a token member discord, exclusive access to NFTS, special content, and much more. The Professor also donates a portion of his social money’s proceeds to charity.
Before $CROSS’ launch, Mike says, “I don’t think there was a single place for his community to come together before that discord was set up and not to say that he, I mean, he could have tried that without the token, but I think the token $CROSS really helps drive people into it.”
This social token differentiates fans from distinct, dedicated members of his community. It gives his $CROSS owners a place to convene and find like-minded people who are more serious than the average YouTuber commenter. It also expands his community beyond his successful YouTube channel or other platforms. $CROSS in itself gives people a connection beyond social media platforms and goes beyond the creator themselves. Eventually, the creator is more of a steward of this tight community than a strict leader.
Have the right mindset about social money. Don’t go into social money looking to create a quick profit. Social money is more about expanding your community and giving people a deeper connection and special privileges, rather than making fast money. Socia money is a chance to grow and develop your community into something bigger than yourself and the social media platforms you’re on. Look at it as a big-term investment.
You can’t take social money back. Social money has to be sold. It can’t be repurchased or deactivated. Keep this in mind when choosing to sell, distribute, or give it to others.
Decide how much control you are willing to give up. Some creators give up control over parts of their content or brand as benefits of having their social money.
“You really have to be confident in your brand values and be confident in it. This idea that your community is really connecting over this for, you know, kind of like for those reasons.”
The Future of Roll and Social Money
As social money grows in popularity, Roll will be more and more of a social money structure for creators. Mike says that Roll hopes to step back on educating others about social money and allow creators to bring this to their audience. The ultimate goal is for creators and social money owners to have the power while providing them with the tools to distribute and mint social money efficiently.
The future of social money is owning part of a community. Many people may own stocks, but they typically don’t have a personal connection to their stocks. Social money allows people to own parts of a community and brand that they love, support, and want to interact with deeply. Mike anticipates more and more people being able to participate in social money without needing a full education on crypto or technology.