During bearish, uncertain times, it is not surprising that morale decreases amongst the whole NFT community. Over the past month, there has been a lot of blame shifted onto different parties about mints not going well. Although it seems now like ancient news because the space moves so fast, during the Reptilian Renegades era the blame was on influencers.
Many influencers with a lot of followers get paid for a retweet or to run a giveaway, either in SOL or in whitelist spots. Infamously, the advisor for Reptilian Renegades,@ShiLLin_ViLLian (25K Twitter followers) was given 30 whitelist spots for Reptilian Renegade, a project which reached a high of around 50 SOL before it was rugged by the most famous rugger in the space. This prompted a craze about the ethics of influencers: should influencers be condemned for taking payment in exchange for a shill, which may eventually lead their followers down the wrong path? Should they be forced to be transparent about their payment?
A staple of the NFT space is the principle of DYOR. Doing Your Own Research ensures that an investor is informed about what he/she is getting into with the best of his/her ability. At the end of the day, the burden of all financial decisions falls to the individual—he/she was the one to ultimately push the button and agree to the decision. However, it is very common for people in the NFT community to use other people or communities as social proof to inform their decisions. It is nearly impossible to keep up with the fast pace of the space just on one’s own. Therefore, it is necessary most of the time to source other information to corroborate a decision.
Some influencers get paid to push their followers (either directly or indirectly) to make certain decisions, and if the opinion being stated is not in fact held by the influencer, this is where the ethics of the action get called into question. However, there is no way to know the true opinion of a person.
I have personally used two methods to clean up my information sources and empower myself with the best, most objective information: 1) focusing on influencers that by principle, do not do paid promotions, and 2) relying on my network of friends in the space whose opinions I trust.
After a user reaches a certain number of followers, it is not uncommon for projects to reach out to these users and present them with an offer for a paid promotion. For users who do not have paid shills/giveaways on their feed—which is sometimes indicated in their Twitter bios—do so very intentionally. They could have an additional revenue stream if they took the offer, but they decide not to do so because it is against what they want to stand for. Some people that come to mind are @gaius1337, @earlyishadopter, @SOLBigBrain, @SolanaLegend, @permissionlesol. There are gems hidden on Twitter, most with less than 10k followers. Their content is usually less like clickbait, and longer form; there is more education, explanation, and therefore more words (usually in threads). Though it takes longer to digest this content, it is a great way to educate oneself. Another way to search for people to follow is to go to nftinspect.xyz, search your personal favorite collections (e.g. some that you own, some that you would like to own), and see who has high reach in the community. Scroll through their feed, and if you vibe with the content, it’s a good reason to hit the “Follow” button.
Being able to rely on friends in the space for information comes with time. Many people, including myself, entered the NFT space thinking it would be highly individual. However, as I have grown as an investor, I have learned that it is quite the opposite. It is extremely valuable to have a community or group of friends who you can trust. Though most people are not influencers, their opinions are still usually formulated by money or what will make them the most money. They might shill you a project that they own for example, not because they think it's necessarily a good play, but because they want to pump their own bags. This is crossing the same ethical line that influencers do when they are compensated for promoting a project they don’t believe in. However, there are also supportive and genuine people located in every corner of the space. I have found many friends through being in discords together, and especially from spending time in my home DAO, where I talk through most of my plays. In my opinion, it is worth holding a project whose community you really relate to and get along with, no matter the price (up to a certain amount). The people in the DAO can become your legitimate friends and connections, and while you still have to DYOR, these friends can lead you down different paths you might not have considered before. However, it is important to keep these projects sparse in your portfolio; there simply isn’t enough time in the day to be a prominent member of more than a couple DAOs and be able to keep up with your own research as well.
Additionally, in these bearish times, many retail investors are getting more curious about the broader crypto market in an effort to determine whether SOL is going to survive. However, it is important to note that predicting price action is never reliably possible, especially in the bear market. Be wary of anyone who speaks too specifically or with too much confident about what is going to happen to a certain coin or crypto in general. If you have friends who are into crypto trading, ask them who their role models or mentors are, and consider following them, while of course taking their analyses with a grain of salt as well. Additionally, I have learned that people who were in the crypto space through the last bear market (2017/2018) have a much more level head about the situation and can speak based on a relevant lived experience.
Essentially, this slower market is a great time to scrutinize all aspects of your approach to trading. Surviving the bear market will create informed, determined, and seasoned NFT investors. The more types of market conditions that an individual investor weathers, the more trust he/she can have that their decisions are backed by the proper context and considerations. Following and engaging with people you trust (within reason) and blocking out the rest of the noise will create an environment in which the information has a higher quality and is more purposeful. The more knowledge an investor has, the more immune he/she is to sentiment fluctuations and short-term setbacks.