Metaverse, Web3, NFTs, blockchain – together, these technologies promise a new reality defined by boundless opportunities and unseen levels of self-governance. And it has captured the imagination of thousands, if not millions of us.
I won’t spend too much time diving into the highly technical (and at times, highly tedious) details of the decentralised world. Many have done this already – and should you want to read more, The Economist, Wired and New Scientist wrote about the potential the new generation of the Internet, Web3, and the virtual space metaverse hold; whilst others have expressed concern about the limitations of a decentralised world.
Instead, I’m more preoccupied about the implications Web3 and the metaverse have on how brands engage with their audience.
Looking at how things are today, more and more brands are investing in their virtual world presence. Nike has already appointed a head of metaverse and Microsoft announced plans to integrate its VR/AR platform Mesh with Teams, hinting at future “immersive spaces” within the messaging app. Virtual real estate costs are on the rise too, and prices for plots have soared as much as 500% in the last few months.
But as communication professionals we need to be able to see beyond the hype.
There is blue ocean strategy and there’s the wild goose chase. And when we’re caught up in the moment, differentiating the two can be nearly impossible. Just think that in the early 2010s, Facebook released their own phones (with a dedicated Facebook button!) – which, judging by the fact that you most likely didn’t even know this, was a total failure. Or, take the Fyre Festival, which gathered a $26 million investment.
Just because someone is willing to put money behind an idea does not mean it won’t fail.
If you’re a business pondering whether or not to make the jump and invest in crypto, NFTs, the metaverse or anything else new and shiny, ask yourself: Is this where my customers are?
If the answer is yes, if you know the metaverse will be populated with the audience you want to reach – go for this. And please report back.
But if the answer is “no” or you’re not sure, sit tight. The pace of innovation might seem fast but good things never happen overnight. Staying true to your brand – especially in an age of increased scrutiny – could be more valuable than jumping on the latest trends just to “stay ahead”.
These are all just other (new) channels to reach audiences, and brands should interrogate the utility of these platforms the same way they’d do with any others – be it Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Discord, etc (the list goes on).
And just like any other platform or idea, the decentralised world has its limitations. Web3 has a long way to go (this piece in The Verge explains why) and the metaverse is still an empty space. It could take us anything from a year to 10 years to populate these spaces in a meaningful, engaging way.