Metaverse – Why brands needn’t panic over joining the rush

metaverse, no rush to get in - Image by Julien Tromeur from Pixabay

There’s little doubt that the next big thing in the tech world will almost certainly be the all immersive cyber world more commonly known as the metaverse. Almost!

While everyone runs around trying to figure out what Web3.0 will mean for their corporate strategy, others are urging us all to calm down and not get carried away.

One of those voices is Paula Munteanu, Account Director at global PR firm Porter Novelli, who gives us a welcome reality check on all the rush and hype over the next great virtual space… which isn’t really likely to emerge as a commercial force any time soon…

Paula Munteanu metaverse insight
Paula Munteanu, Account Director, Porter Novelli.

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.

nikeland in the metaverse
Meta sneakers: Nikeland is already present in the metaverse, but is there an audience there yet?

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 its 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. 

metaverse audiences - Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay
Building the metaverse: Unlikely to happen overnight, or this year, or next.

 

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.