Comparing DeSo Protocols: Farcaster vs. Lens

updated on 23 November 2023
COMPARING-THE-LEADING-WEB3-SOCIAL-MEDIA-PROTOCOLS-1fc42

Facebook has 2.95 Billion Monthly Active Users (MAU) in Q3 2022 ... and this number is growing. If this was a country, it would be the most populated country in the world. I can start talking about This is perfect segue into talking about @balaji's book "Network State", but that's a topic for another day. Today, I want to talk about two upcoming Web3 Social (or Decentralized Social) protocols Farcaster and Lens. I've been using them daily for a couple of months now and in this blog, we will compare these two apps on various parameters, providing ratings for each and shedding light on their unique features.

What is Lens?

in their own words "The Social Layer for Web3". In DappRadar's words, "Lens Protocol is building a social media infrastructure powered by blockchain technology and bringing social media into the age of Web3. Lens Protocol has moved into its V2 stage, supercharging social media and allowing any internet platform to tie into Web3."

What is Farcaster?

In their own words "a protocol for decentralized social apps". In Datawallet's words, "Farcaster is a revolutionary decentralized protocol currently in its beta stage, paving the way for user-centric social apps that offer individuals greater control over their data through a blend of on-chain and off-chain systems. Although there isn't an official token launched yet, there are hints of a potential token airdrop in the near future."

User experience

Lens ★★★ (3/5)

Lens UX is acceptable but requires a great deal of improvement. The biggest reason is that they don't build their own frontend. They rely on apps like Orb, Phaver, Hey, Tape, Buttrfly, and many more. Individually, all of these apps are 3/5 or 4/5 depending on the use case, but collectively they create somewhat a confusing experience for the Lens ecosystem.

Farcaster ★★★★ (4/5)

Farcaster UX is great. The biggest reason is that they build their own frontend -- Warpcast. The onboarding can be challenging for Web2 folks, but given the limitations with private keys, passkeys, and the entire wallet infrastructure, they have done a GREAT job at creating a smooth experience.Also, other app features work seamlessly -- most of the time -- and is very much comparable to many Lens frontend apps.

Team & Execution

Lens ★★★★★ (5/5)

Lens is started by @Stani. He is the founder of Aave protocol -- IYKYK. To say the least ... he's an OOOOOOG.The team is expert in complicated smart contracts, ecosystem development, grant programs, and community building in general. It may lack some of the social media growth hacks, but they are learning fast.

Farcaster ★★★★★ (5/5)

Farcaster is started by @dwr and @varun. Both were directors at Coinbase before they started this company. Both have shown exemplary achievements in their career and can take Farcaster to places. The team is an expert in developing growth-first social media products. Also, they have hired amazing talent for blockchain development. Their ecosystem development and grant program is comparatively weak, but their product game compensates for that.

Funding

Lens ★★★★★ (5/5)

Lens Protocol Raised $15M in funding in June 2023 led by IDEO CoLab Ventures, but Stani is more than capable of raising any amount when he wants.

Farcaster ★★★★★ (5/5)

Farcaster Protocol Raised $30M in funding in July 2022 led by a16z, but both the founders are super capable of raising any amount when they want.#FunFact Both are funded by our favorite Balaji Srinivasan (prev. CTO at Coinbase). Clearly, he's bullish on both protocols.

Decentralization

Lens ★★★★★ (5/5)

Lens is a decentralization-first protocol with the same ethos as Ethereum. Everything they do is open source and as much decentralized as possible. Because of their decentralization-first approach, instead of creating a slick user experience, they created bounties for external teams to build the user experience. This is great for decentralization, but the UX suffers.

Farcaster ★★★★ (4/5)

Farcaster is the growth-first protocol. Their management believes in sufficient decentralization. That's why they have built their own frontend (Warpcast). Their APIs allow for other experiences to be built, but because they own Warpcast, other frontends are always worried about Warpcast eating their lunch in the future. This limits competition and creates an atmosphere of fear. Note: check out the article by their co-founder in the "Related Read" section Varun.

Traction with users

Lens ★★★ (3/5)

Due to the fragmented UX ecosystem, the users are distributed and it's tough to reach critical mass. The user growth has been a little stagnating in recent months -- is not as exponential as it could be, but it could be simply because they were focused on launching Momoka (Lens V2). Check out some numbers here:@lenscan dashboard - https://lenscan.io/@momoka dashboard - https://momoka.lens.xyz/ .

Farcaster ★★★★ (4/5)

If Farcaster wins, this is why they will win. Their growth and engagement game is A+. They have attracted great AMAs -- especially the one with @Fred Wilson and @Vitalik.Checkout some stats at https://farcaster.network/

Traction with builders

Lens ★★★★ (5/5)

If Lens wins, this will be the reason. Their ethos is about building together. They focus on building composable modules that allow the ecosystem to run more experiments. Their module documentation (https://docs.lens.xyz/docs/module-interfaces) is comprehensive and inviting to the builders. My favorite experiment is "Smart Posts" -- it's like embedding a widget as a post. It makes the posts cleverly interactive and maybe more engaging. Checkout the Lenseverse - https://aave.notion.site/Lensverse-a5926eab1d8148eda10053af9f4e28a0

Farcaster ★★★ (3/5)

This is Farcaster's weakness. Yes, there are a number of apps being built on Farcaster but most of them seem to revolve around Warpcast -- and not Farcaster. It definitely amplifies user growth by achieving critical mass, but not sure how much fosters an innovation ecosystem. Check out the apps built on Farcaster - https://www.farcaster.xyz/apps.

Tokens

None of them have officially launched their protocol tokens, but apps built on these protocols have decided to launch their tokens -- some examples @Warps (not on blockchain token), @Yup, @Jamfrens, etc. I'm already keeping my cash aside for the day when Lens and Farcaster decide to launch their own tokens.

My advice to the creators

Be active on both platforms. Farcaster is easier to build your audience but Lens is committed to providing you new ways to make money. Both platforms are also dedicated to making sure that you and only you own your relationship with your audience. It's a game changer compared to the traditional web2 socials.

My advice to the followers

This is your chance to follow great builders in the space -- who are experts at walking the talk. Due to the newness of the platform, they are more accessible and open to deeper engagement. Don't miss this opportunity to engage with them and learn from the masters. What am I doing? I'm active on both platforms. Here are the linksLens - https://buttrfly.app/profile/zoomrooFarcaster - https://warpcast.com/chinmay.eth

Conclusion

Screenshot-2023-11-23-at-18.34.02-iq906

Lens has the same ethos as Ethereum -- openness, innovation, decentralization-first, community-first, increasingly developer friendly, and the best place to experiment with completely new concepts like Smart Posts. Farcaster is Solana of Web3 Social which started at the same time as Ethereum. It's fast, slick, super engaging, growth-first, developer-friendly, and the best place to build the web3 community today. Let me know what you think.

Related reads:

Farcaster Explained by Jade Barker - https://www.datawallet.com/crypto/farcaster-explained

What is Lens Protocol: Open Social Media on the Blockchain By Robert Hoogendoorn https://dappradar.com/blog/lens-protocol-bringing-social-media-to-the-blockchain

Sufficient Decentralization for Social Networks by Varun Srinivasan - https://www.varunsrinivasan.com/2022/01/11/sufficient-decentralization-for-social-networks 

Smart posts end-to-end guide by Lens Docs - https://docs.lens.xyz/docs/open-action-end-to-end-guide

AMA with Fred Wilson on Farcaster - https://warpcast.com/dwr.eth/0x87e91802

AMA with Vitalik on Farcaster - https://warpcast.com/dwr.eth/0x390ae86a

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