Digital transformation is changing the way companies do business, as well as the way they develop a relationship with their customers. As a result, the old strategies for connecting brands with people lose effectiveness, and many of them will become practically useless, if not obsolete, with generational change.
One of the main reasons has been the emergence of new digital media and platforms through which people obtain information, socialize, consume their entertainment, shop, make payments and carry out many other activities. One of these mediums that you can’t stop talking about is the Metaverse.
Facebook made the concept fashionable with their Meta project. Since then, much has been written on the subject, and although we have noticed a lot of confusion surrounding the Metaverse, we would like to clarify what exactly it is. Many media outlets describe it as a virtual reality from a science fiction movie. Although it is not a wrong impression, it is limited.
The Metaverse is not a place but an experience. The final result of the fluid interaction between the different digital platforms creates a unique user experience. Virtual reality is one of those platforms, but so are augmented reality or social networks, in addition to others.
Today it is true that we have the platforms that will eventually make the Metaverse a reality. Still, a seamless single-user experience across platforms does not yet exist, and it will take years of technological development to achieve it. So, for now, the correct thing is to say that we have the foundations of a proto-metaverse that will eventually evolve into an entire metaverse.
Companies cannot afford to ignore these spaces for a simple reason: Most of the young public, and a significant part of the not-so-young public, have migrated to these media. Moreover, today, an entire generation is practically incapable of imagining the world without them, and they will become the majority audience of the future.
It is true that the business sector saw this trend and was quick to enter this new digital frontier in search of new consumers. The problem is that many did it following the same strategies as traditional media, without considering the unique demands of digital platforms, which mixed results in the best of cases and failed miserably in the worst. Although there are several reasons for this lack of success, one stands out.
It is essential to understand that the main characteristic that distinguishes these media from the traditional ones is interactivity. It is their main attraction and why they have become so popular. The public is not a passive subject that receives information without further ado. Whether controlling an avatar in a virtual world, playing a video game, or selecting the content or information to be consulted, the current audience has become accustomed to interactivity. They expect you to be there.
It should be noted that although the promise of the Metaverse is far away, the platforms that make it up offer many opportunities for companies to connect with audiences. For this reason, we will show a couple of examples where the peculiarities of each platform and their capacity for interactivity with the public are taken advantage of.
Let’s start with the Twitch streaming platform that allows people to stream live. It rose to the top thanks to live gaming broadcasts and its feature that allowed the audience to communicate directly with the player. Since then, it has expanded to other areas, from the kitchen to religious services. Everyday channels with more specialized topics seem to appear that almost always find an audience.
Many companies have put traditional advertisements on the broadcasts, and although it has not been a completely useless effort, it has not given the expected results either. In fact, in some cases, it has even created adverse reactions. It is important to remember that they are live broadcasts; imagine if a concert suddenly stops in the middle to announce a product, and the public does not like it.
The simple truth is that a new medium requires a new strategy. Going back to the previous point, let’s focus on the interactive capacity of Twitch. The audience loves interacting with the people who broadcast, even more so when their comments affect the broadcast. This helps the audience and presenter develop a closer relationship, which is almost impossible in other media.
Thus, the best way for a brand to enter this space and connect with the audience is through the “streamer” since they trust them. Streamers are usually independent, so if they promote a product, it is because they like it, something that gives validity and strength to their opinion in the eyes of the public, certainly more than a paid actor.
Moving on to another platform, let’s think about virtual worlds, especially those dedicated to gaming. Video games have become one of the main hobbies in the world, and it does not stop growing in all aspects. Let’s remember that the digital audience wants and expects interactivity. The solution then is to offer interactivity with our commercial actions within the virtual worlds of video games, or even better, turn them into recreational activities: contests, competitions, challenges, etc.
Let’s see it with a practical example. In October last year, the sporting goods giant filed a trademark application with the US patent office to sell branded sneakers in a virtual world. Shortly after, the company launched an online playground on Roblox, an online gaming platform called Nike Land, where users could create an avatar and play sports in a virtual space.
In addition to Nike-sponsored games, Roblox is spreading brand awareness digitally with product showrooms and unique avatar customization items. Players can choose Nike clothing to dress them up, such as classic shoes like the Air Force 1 or the Nike Blazer. Also, Nike keeps players updated with new products and models.
Each company and each public need strategies tailored to their specific needs. However, in the case of the new media that will form the Metaverse, interactivity will be one of the fundamental pillars, as we have seen in the examples. The best way to connect with new audiences is by making them participate in brand actions, and we must change their perspective of them from passive entities to co-workers.