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We yearn to be part of something bigger than ourselves. In an age of pandemic isolation, remote work, secularization, fraying local community ties, and a common sense of powerlessness, affiliation affords security and purpose.
Historically that affiliation has come from your employer, religion, or favorite sports team — groups where you win and lose together while flaunting the collective’s symbols. Today, it’s stanning your favorite creator, unionizing with your peers, or joining a crowd to HODL a meme stock to the moon.
Regardless of what your movement is for, it needs attention to grow. The obvious method is to share your zealotry in social media posts. But I believe an even more powerful way is to use the underlying foundation of social media — identity — to share that this isn’t just something you care about or do, it’s something you are.
By adding the emoji emblems of your movement to your name on social media, every action and even your very existence serves to grow its membership. You could define this as “nametagging”, like hashtagging for the namespace.
Suddenly, it’s not just your posts about the mission that proselytize it. It’s every post. It’s your profile, your mentions, your name in search results. The message isn’t washed down the content river. Your name floats steadfast above the ephemerality, like a beacon on a buoy.
The natural reaction is curiosity. What do those symbols mean? Why did they add them to their name? Am I missing being part of something?
Once you convince someone of the mission, it’s so easy for them to join in and further amplify the movement. It costs nothing…not even the time to come up with something clever to post. It’s as loud as possible without requiring dedicated promotion. You can silently show your solidarity or sing it from the mountain top.
I first saw the power of nametagging with the 👁👄👁 phenomenon. A gen Z mafia leveraged the FOMO surrounding invite-only TestFlight apps to fool the world into thinking they were launching the next hot social startup. In reality, it was an inside joke between friends that evolved into a ploy that raised over $100K for racial justice philanthropies.
Its primary growth vector? Indoctrinating allies by getting them to add 👁👄👁 to their Twitter display names in order to weaponize their followers’ curiosity for a good cause. The set of emoji had come to mean shock or confusion — an arrested gaze on something unbelievable, and definitely worth paying attention to. When people would ask what they meant, members would coyly reply “it is what it is”, furthering the movement’s mystique.
I touched on this nametagging tactic in my overview of this epic stunt last year:
“👁👄👁 has leveraged an army of confidants to turn Twitter names into billboards and bewildering teasers into a hype cycle no tiny startup could afford.”
Ultra Sound Money brought nametagging to web3. The movement and accompanying ethereum tracker site popularizes the concept that the decreasing ETH supply makes the currency more sound than gold. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin’s joke about supersonic money led to researcher Justin Drake’s memes about ultrasound money, which birthed the ultra sound money movement for ETH bulls. Enthusiasts put the “bat signal” 🦇🔉 in their name to spread awareness.
The (emoji,emoji) format for signifying DAOs, crypto startups, and web3 projects emerged from the OlympusDAO that evolved the nametagging concept. Olympus supports staking $Ohm. This matrix shows why collaboration between members, instead of conflict or competition, produces the biggest gains. (3,3) became a symbol for teamwork.
Soon other DAOs and web3 communities began using the emoji or parenthesis-emoji-comma-emoji-parenthesis format to identify their members, like Bored Ape Yacht Club🍌, $TIME (🎩,🎩), TempleDAO☀️, Avalanche🔺, PaperclipDAO📎, Divine Robes👘, Snowdog❄️, Rabbithole.gg(🐇,🎩), and more. Yat is building a whole URL scheme around emojis.
Then this week, the strategy proved its potential again with (📜,📜). ConstitutionDAO is a ragtag crew of collaborators who raised $40M to try (and sadly fail) to buy an original copy of the U.S. Constitution. Their calling card? Adding the scroll emojis to their Twitter profiles.
The scrolls look remarkably like the historic American document, though upon zooming in, you’ll notice the iPhone version actually depicts Rob Siltanen’ famous Apple “Here’s to the crazy ones” ad (often misattributed to Steve Jobs). Both were fitting to emblemize a squad of internet friends trying to raise a fortune in crypto to return the Constitution to the $PEOPLE.
The (📜,📜) quickly appeared in the names of a who’s who of web3 culture pioneers. That helped the movement grow to over 17,000 donors, all excited to learn what it was about and show off their participation. Anyone who donated, or even just joined the Discord, was welcome to inscribe the scrolls on their handle. And even after ConstitutionDAO lost the auction, the emoji remained in the profiles of the faithful. I truly believe this project wouldn’t have invaded the zeitgeist so thoroughly if not for its legion of followers broadcasting it with the core of their web presence.
Nametagging will continue to proliferate in web3 culture because it crystallizes the participatory nature of decentralization. The tactic’s accessibility mirrors the ethos of this burgeoning space: flat organizational structure. From the hardest working core contributor to the last noob jumping on the bandwagon — they all were allowed to carry the same insignia. It’s a good reminder that many of these projects and movements are fully open to the public, and a counter to the criticism that the NFT world is exclusive to the rich and well-connected.
I expect that nametagging will increasingly permeate mainstream organizations. I’ve taken to abbreviating the venture fund I work for SignalFire as 📶🔥, and I’ve seen Alexis Ohanian use 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ to denote his fund Seven Seven Six. Perhaps the whole concept will lose its cool if brands like 🎯, 🧘♀️🍋, and 🍔👑 corporatize the tactic.
Three tips for using nametagging to unite and grow your movement:
Name yourself something that can easily be conveyed with emoji
Doublecheck that your chosen emoji look nice and consistent across platforms
Instruct your followers that they’re encouraged to add the emoji to their names
Nametagging empowers your allies to make you not just a piece of information they share, but a piece of their identity. Everyone wants to be part of something.
Much love to Gas Station, Crypto Packaged Goods, and friends like @YachtMommii, @Kanakhey, @DavideSilverman, @ghosttyped, @noel_castellano, @ericnakagawa, @YouFoundAnisha, @gtMcKnight, @AWengroff, @_Brandswell, “Pat Cott”, and @Nick_deWilde for the editing help