The term “metaverse” first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel, Snow Crash. However, it was only in recent years that the concept has truly entered the global consciousness. While Stephenson used the term to describe a 3D, virtual environment, today, the notion of the metaverse has expanded far beyond this relatively humble idea into a completely immersive world offering complex, digital experiences.
Just last year, in a nod to this phenomenon and the popularity of the idea, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta. Meanwhile, games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox promise to bring players far beyond the physical realm into new, previously unimaginable worlds.
But the concept of the metaverse extends even further, expanding our boundaries of what is possible.
The Metaverse: An Overview
The metaverse is essentially an “otherworldly” atmosphere that exists outside of a physical realm. It incorporates digital experiences, setting the stage for people to interact, work, connect, or merely exist in a virtual landscape.
These individual spheres have unique sets of privileges and ways of functioning. They may incorporate immersive concepts, like augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). There can be gamified experiences, as the emerging cases around us are already proving.
Another facet of the metaverse is blockchain. This is the power behind phenomena like cryptocurrency. In recent years, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken hold. These are unique units of currency that keep their data on a blockchain and can be traded for non-material goods, such as digital images, audio clips, or even concepts like virtual property.
Right now, the metaverse isn’t a single entity — there are many metaphysical environments where these types of actions can take place. But in the future, we may see worlds that become interconnected.
Opportunities for Businesses
Gaming and Entertainment
The metaverse is already taking hold in the entertainment world, an environment that seems like a glove fit for immersive, virtual experiences. We’ve already highlighted games like Fortnite, which allow players to effectively build their own worlds and experience different landscapes. Even Pokémon Go, an interactive AR game that made its debut in 2016, could be considered an early metaverse innovation.
Meanwhile, in 2021, Major League Baseball partnered with Candy Digital to release NFT editions for its 30 teams, allowing them to bid on collectible digital items.
There are more opportunities for the world of entertainment to embrace the metaverse, through films and television, music, and much more.
Marketing and Advertising
Pepsi, Nike, Crocs, Disney, Hyundai, Warner Bros., Walmart, and many other corporate giants are incorporating the metaverse into their marketing and advertising strategies. From leveraging NFTs to hosting virtual parties and experiences to creating their own digital “artifacts,” the opportunities for promotion are endless. This is also a chance for companies of all types, across all industries, to flex their creative muscles.
“Gucci digitally outfits Gen-Z in metaverse foray with Roblox,” a June 2021 AP headline reads. The luxury fashion label partnered with Roblox to create a virtual world in which consumers could purchase Gucci accessories in a virtual Gucci Garden, digitally modeled after the real-life Gucci Gardens.
The metaverse is changing the very nature of e-commerce, through innovations like NFTs and beyond. It’s also changing the way we conceive of ownership — what it truly means to own a product. Does it have to be a physical entity? That’s what the metaverse makes us question.
How to Leverage the Metaverse
1. Make the Metaverse Fit You
It’s tempting to approach the metaverse as something into which you should fit your business. Instead, a better strategy is to look for ways to make the metaverse fit you. Think about the different aspects of your brand — your image, your area of focus, and most of all, your consumers. Think about how you can leverage the metaverse to better target key demographics and attain new customers as well as keep the existing ones.
2. Start Simple
The metaverse is a complex, involved concept. It can feel overwhelming to tackle this space when you’re initially making your entrance. So, rather than attempting to start out with a grand idea like some of the corporate giants we’ve discussed, begin with a simple concept. For example, create an NFT to generate interest in your brand. This isn’t too difficult to build, even if you don’t have a tech background, and it can help you get your foot in the door.
3. Consider Partnerships
Many businesses and organizations are working with gaming platforms to create immersive, virtual experiences, whether they are looking for innovative ways to market their products and services or creating NFTs to exchange digital goods. As you experiment with this new landscape, think about forming partnerships in the gaming sphere and beyond.
Facebook, for example, is a natural tool to help you transition into the metaverse. In the future, we will likely see the social media giant offer platforms for businesses to test out the metaverse themselves.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
Pay attention to what others in your industry are doing with and in the metaverse. Perhaps they are tapping into this world in a radical, innovative way — and you, too, can leverage similar ideas to make the metaverse part of your brand. This is also a way to better understand the concept since you will see how it can apply to your field.
The Bottom Line
Here’s what’s abundantly clear: businesses must pay attention to the metaverse. While it’s still evolving, it’s obvious that this virtual world is expanding rapidly and will play a central role in our global consciousness. What happens next with the metaverse remains to be seen.