Ultimately, NFTs are supposed to offer a way for a company or brand to build a stronger community around their name – but as Web3’s Nicole Behnam so eloquently put it during her panel at NFT LA with Impact Theory’s Tom Bilyeu – there’s a difference between having an “audience” and having a “community.”
Many of the success stories in the NFT space revolve around NFT mints that have sold out within minutes or even by day’s end. Yet, the dogmatic perspective of a company or brand simply announcing the mint date and praying its community jumps on it so that it immediately sells out, is a wishful security net that only serves to stifle the innovation required to fully build out the Web3 and NFTs..
There’s a layer of creativity and genuine excitement that seems to be missing from the process. For a space that touts ‘community first,’ forward-thinking, and innovation – why is it that projects are just copycatting or running through the same routine in announcing their mint and reveal dates?
Rather than simply putting up a ‘countdown’ until the mint and reveal dates, hoping the genesis NFT collection sells out – what if the direction changed entirely?
What if gamification was directly linked to a project’s mint date and subsequent reveal?
What if that gamification required such tenacity, effort, and commitment from its (prospective) community, that unless they all came together to participate and help one another every step of the way, the reveal would never take place?
“Epic is a word we use frequently, because we believe that if you don’t, if it’s not going to be epic – it’s not worth doing,” said Scary Monster, Chief Brand Officer and a founder of the passion project turned movement ZINU.
ZINU is the industry’s “original zombie” and its first fully animated 3D NFT that can “walk, strut, run, flip, dance, and fly” that also resembles one of the first forms of true decentralized intellectual property – a “royalty-free” NFT license.
Its team consists of an elite collective of individuals who worked at Amazon, Google, Intel, and Microsoft with deep connections to leadership within the tech, media, and entertainment industries. With its strategic board of advisors including Marvel artist and toy architect Digger T. Mesch and gaming legend Tomo Moriwaki (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Medal of Honor), ZINU adds an additional layer of fun to the endless possibilities that will start to seep onto toy shelves and into mainstream tv, film, and gaming.
With its March 23 mint date set in stone, ZINU’s 10,000 NFT zombie collection, known as the ‘Zombie Mob Secret Society’ (ZMSS) sold out two days later on the 25th.
Yet, that didn’t stop its community, or the Zombie Mob from giving up its four-month-long mission of solving the final puzzle that would ultimately unlock the NFT reveal date.
Without any inclination as to when the Zombie Mob would solve the final puzzle, thus being unable to predict the reveal date, ZINU had hoped they would have great news to share prior to the start of NFT LA on the 28th, which it helped sponsor, in addition to helping put on the conference’s official afterparty.
Excitingly, the community that ZINU built showed up on March 28, with news spreading throughout the Zombie Mob that the final puzzle had just been solved, unlocking the NFT reveal.
And what did ZINU have to say?
“The possibilities are truly endless as we see ZINU everywhere in the future – from apparel and toys to ultra-premium collectibles and games, to comic books and film. We believe to our core that by decentralizing this form of intellectual property for our #ZombieMob that something truly memorable is in the making.”
Only six months old, ZINU proudly admits its status as the “new kids on the block,” but emphasizing the way in which they organically built a community that tirelessly put in the hours (and months) to solve just four strategically orchestrated puzzles to help unlock the NFT reveal date, which the team says was an “adrenaline rush that can’t be recreated or purchased.”
“The fact that the [Zinu] community came together and solved this puzzle, was an adrenaline rush you can’t recreate. We’ve never been part of an experience like that. There’s no amount of money or billboards you purchase that can be utilized to create this actual community we created. There’s no influencer that can post about this to make this camaraderie that cannot truly be replicated. From that experience of watching the community waking up early every day over the course of four months, and getting through it, and then getting to the actual mint, which for many, was the very first time – was so exciting.”
1. Take Advantage of Twitter Spaces
First, immerse yourselves in Twitter Spaces, as there is so much inherent value in speaking and connecting with others who are genuinely interested in the “next best thing.”
ZINU held its very first Twitter Spaces on December 11, 2021, and has since continued to hold its official Twitter Spaces every Sunday at 4pm EST, where members of its Zombie Mob community would come to chat and talk about the future of the project, Zinu’s mysterious backstory, and of course, the forthcoming mint and currently “locked” reveal date.
With December’s Twitter Spaces debut come and gone, subsequent community-driven Twitter Spaces began quickly popping up, where members of the Zinu community would begin hosting a ZINU-related Space seven days a week, every night at 8:30pm.
Unlike the majority of Twitter Spaces you may have found yourself in, ZINU strived for something different, choosing to inject a gamification element into it, which required those serious enough to trust in ZINU’s mission, to take a leap of faith and spent countless hours trying to crack a series of four extremely challenging, mind-blowing, and sleep depriving puzzles that only brought those participants closer together in a way that’s never been seen before.
Ultimately, Twitter Spaces became ground-zero for conversations discussing possible clues and answers to puzzles that ZINU had subtly and quietly left behind since its first YouTube video posted on December 11.
With many of the success stories in the space, it’s also equally difficult to see the entire future of where that project is headed next – absent a breaking news story announcing a multi-million dollar partnership or major celebrity endorsement.
Promoting a project solely on hype with the intent to just sell out is a poor strategy in getting started, as you must work even harder to convince these nascent, frail investors that you’re actively building for the future.
Right now, we are simply seeing the mundane security net of playing by the rules in a very nascent space that begs for adventure, creativity, and belonging.
And for ZINU, gamifying the entire NFT reveal was the “epic” impact they were looking to make, as it required months of sleepless nights by its community to come together and build bonds that withstand the test of any ‘countdown clock counting to zero,’ and calling yourself part of a community.
“For us, it was important that we gamify everything,” Scary Monster emphasized. “And it wasn’t going to be something where it’s like, okay, you mint this date and the reveal is this date. Our idea very early on was that we had to gamify this whole thing, and what would trigger the ‘unlock?’”
Scary continued by saying it was “the community coming together and solving the puzzle. And so only once they’ve solved the puzzle, would we actually trigger the ‘unlock’ of the reveal of the NFTs – because one of our utilities is access to secret quests.”
In other words, if the community (hypothetically) wasn’t able to come together in time and solve all four puzzles by what ZINU had hoped would be by the start of NFT LA, then the NFT reveal would have continued to be prolonged – despite having a sold out mint.
For the team, December 11 was a very important date, as it served as the project’s very first Twitter Spaces, as well as the first official video (and clue) drop to ZINU’s official YouTube channel. Since that first posting, ZINU had been quietly dropping easter eggs and breadcrumbs in its video content, hoping its community would have a keen enough eye to start asking the right questions in Spaces.
Spanned across 75 videos posted to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, ZINU placed four very distinct keys into these videos that had different size keyblades. Once a key was discovered, the community would then go to that particular video where the key was found, and look for a clue that they say was always “right in front of them.”
“The four keys is what dr[ove]the rest of the puzzle,” ZINU’s chief technology officer told I&T Today. “The rest of the puzzle was a four key password, whereby the keys drove the community to find the video that the key existed in. And that key then denoted that that video had some sort of puzzle or password in it,” he explained.
Continuing, he revealed that the puzzles each had their own respective theme to it. “The password could literally have been anything, because it was open fields,” he said.
Once someone located a key, it was then posted to ZINU’s website as a global update.
“The website globally updates for everybody. So, if one person found the key, the website then placed that key in the empty slot where the key was. Once that happened, as soon as someone refreshed, they would see that the puzzle was solved, and the password slot went away, showing the remaining puzzles to be solved (or unlocked).”
According to the team, it took four months, leading up to the start of NFT LA for all four puzzles to be solved by the community, unlocking the reveal date on March 28.
“People were up for days on Twitter Spaces, 24/7, with people talking. We had people coming from different communities to help finish the puzzles.”
ZINU also revealed that one of the members from the ZINU community team ended up creating a Reddit thread, taking screen captures, frame-by-frame and asking for people to help locate the keys and clues.
“So, people got pretty close to cracking the code to time travel, going so far back into Einstein’s theory of relativity. We were a little concerned, ha, which is why we had our Mental Health channel on our Discord for people who felt like they were going insane, to recalibrate and just take a break,” the CTO confessed.
Since it launched, ZINU has emphasized the importance of projects giving back to its community, following through with every bold statement, claim, and promises that were provided to its community at any given time.
For this reason, ZINU gave away over $500,000 in cash and prizes that went directly back to the community – with one of the biggest questions being who would be minting the Golden Zinu that came with a $250,000 cash prize?
“It ended up being a gentleman, named David, who has been in the community since November. He retweets everything we do, is always on the Twitter Spaces, always commenting and tagging, and very active in the Discord and overall ZINU community. By minting the Golden Zinu, David unlocked a quarter of a million dollars,” Scary shared.
As the ZINU community was doing their reveal in the official Twitter Spaces, the team noticed David (via his Twitter handle) was also in that particular Spaces.
“He actually minted 10 Zinu NFTs at 0.5 ETH, and the Golden Zinu ended up being the 10th one he minted. So, when he got on the Twitter Spaces, he literally started crying, because it’s this emotional thing. I mean that’s a life-changing amount of money.”
In addition to the Golden Zinu, the team was also able to scoop up NFTs and airdrop them back to ZINU’s holders.
Specifically, anyone who minted at 0.5 ETH, ZINU 3x’d what would be their eventual NFTs. So, for anyone who minted 2 NFTs at 0.5ETH, ZINU gifted them 4 NFTs, totaling 6; for those who minted 5 NFTs, ZINU gifted them 10 NFTs, totaling 15, and so forth.
“It was important for us to give back to our community from the onset,” Scary told I&T Today. “So we all huddled together and asked ourselves how we could do something powerful? How do we do something epic? How do we give back to the community in a really, really compelling way?”
The latest members to the ZMSS include metaverse pioneer and DJ Steve Aoki along with The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and Robert Patrick. And rumor has it that ZINU might be working on a new DeFi platform that connects communities to learn, grow, and improve the space.
At the end of the day, ZINU encourages its holders to use their Zinu NFTs in their profile pictures and respective personal and professional ventures.
“If you love the project, if you identify – then we empower you to use Zinu as a force for good.”