Facebook’s new parent company promises to be more immersive in the online experience
Inventors are still trying to make sense of this. However, it’s still worth considering what the metaverse will look like for you and your business.
BY ELIZABETH BREEDLOVE
In late October, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta, the new parent company for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and other subsidiaries.
Zuckerberg explained the change as a way to keep up with the ever-evolving internet.
“We’ve gone from desktop to web to mobile; from text to photos to video,” wrote Zuckerberg in a founder’s letter published on October 28. “But this isn’t the end of the line. The next platform will be even more immersive—an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.
“We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build.”
He said the “defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence”—noting that the metaverse will allow you to do nearly anything you want, and these experiences will be linked to your devices. He clarifies that “this isn’t about spending more time on screens; it’s about making the time we already spend better.”
All the company’s apps and products share a common goal of bringing the metaverse to life.
Zuckerberg’s vision is for Meta to be the next chapter in bringing people together in entirely new ways.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re an inventor, a small business owner, or anyone managing a business’s Facebook or Instagram account, you’re likely trying to make sense of this announcement.
The name change itself means very little for you and will have a minimal impact on day-to-day social media management. However, it’s still worth considering what the metaverse will look like for you and your business.
Though the idea of the metaverse seems a bit ambiguous and abstract right now, Facebook (ahem, Meta) is onto something here.
Think about the past two years. How many new ways have you found to connect with your audience, and even your friends and family, since January 2020? Although COVID-19 clearly accelerated this change, our usage of the internet as a means of connecting with others has been gradually shifting and changing since the first usage of the term “social media.”
So, whether or not you buy into or even understand the concept of the metaverse that Meta has put forth, the fact is that it’s coming. Meta is using these principles to guide the decisions it makes with how it grows, develops and improves Facebook and Instagram, two of the biggest social networks worldwide.
Because advertising is the primary way Meta generates a profit, we can expect to see subtle shifts there first.
Some alternate worlds
Let’s look at some of the metaverses, or alternate worlds, that already exist online.
Fortnite is an online video game with three different game mode versions, one of which gives players complete freedom to create worlds and battle arenas.
Minecraft is an online video game consisting of a 3D world where users can collect tools and objects, build structures, play games and create new gameplay mechanics and assets.
Roblox is a gaming platform that allows users to create games and play games created by other users.
Those born in the mid-1990s and later are already spending time on these platforms, meeting up with friends in these virtual worlds. Within these worlds they create avatars that they then use to connect with others through games and other events.
We’re already seeing brands advertising in these spaces, but advertising looks a bit different here than elsewhere.
Because the metaverse is all about the experience, interruptive ads aren’t popular. Rather, ads that serve almost as virtual “billboards” perform better.
Think about how billboards work: You notice them as you ride by, but they don’t pause your drive while you look at them. Similarly, strategically placed digital ads that are noticeable but not interrupting perform well in the metaverse.
Some brands take it a step further and create an experience instead of just not interrupting another experience.
For example, Louis Vuitton created a new virtual world in the form of a video game that sets users on a quest to faraway locations inspired by major global cities such as London, Paris and New York. Hyundai, on the other hand, opted against creating its own virtual world and instead offered virtual test drives in Roblox.
If you’re older than 25 or so, you may still be left scratching your head (myself included!).
But nearly everyone young and old has found comfort in a digital community in the past two years—whether it’s a virtual team-building activity, a family Zoom party over the holidays, or a virtual game night with friends. It only makes sense that these opportunities for digital connection continue to abound and the metaverse continues to grow.
So, here are some questions to ask yourself and your team as you evaluate and adjust your business strategy for 2022 and beyond:
- How are you already connecting with your customers and your target audience online?
- How is your target audience already participating in the metaverse? Where are they online? What digital spaces are seeing growth in your target demographic, specifically?
- Which new opportunities do you have to connect with your target audience?
- Which baby steps can you take now to set yourself up for success within the metaverse later?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals for building a community online? How do these goals fit into the metaverse?
- How can you convert your presence within the metaverse, now or in the future, into actual product sales?
With a bit of forethought and a basic strategy in place, your business will be equipped to handle the metaverse in whatever form it takes.