Our Senior Creative Technologist, Sam Cox, explores what Facebook’s rebrand tells us about the future of the metaverse.
What’s it all about?
Facebook recently announced a seismic development in how it views the ways we connect and socialise online, with its new corporate name evolving to ‘Meta’.
This is significant because of what Meta represents – Facebook’s ambition to provide people with access to the metaverse. The company has identified the shift from traditional timelines and grids to new, richer 3D worlds.
Facebook – that is, the social networking app as we know it – will continue to exist as part of the Meta ecosystem, bringing all the company’s apps and technologies under one brand. But the new name reflects bigger ambitions.
Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth, the soon-to-be CTO of Meta, hosted an IG AMA with a few tidbits. He explained that you will not need expensive VR gear to participate in Meta. It’s a centralised platform which most people will experience with their phones (or lower fidelity devices), just like you can with Roblox and Fortnite.
Meta isn’t just for socialising – how we work and educate ourselves is also central to the platform. So much so, in fact, that Boz believes the digital economy will eventually grow to be larger than the physical economy.
What’s the current state of play?
There have already been a handful of platforms developed to function around the metaverse. Some have been built from the ground up as out-and-out metaverse platforms, such as Decentraland and The Sandbox. Others are evolving into metaverse spaces, such as Fortnite and Roblox.
Over the past few years, Facebook – or rather, Meta – has been developing a lot of the inner workings of its metaverse with a platform called ‘Horizon’. This was discussed extensively within Thursday’s announcement presentation, and is where most interactions will happen.
Horizon is split into three pillars:
Open, public spaces where anyone and everyone can jump into action. This is very much how Roblox works.
Your own private space. Meta’s early vision for your Home in the metaverse – a social space where you can bring friends to hang out, watch videos together, or jump into a game with your squad.
An immersive and interactive method of gathering people across any geographical location together in one digital space to talk, draw, present and workshop.
There’s a lot that is still unknown about the metaverse, and the role that Meta will play in its evolution. While every brand will need a metaverse strategy in the future, as a first and more immediate step, gaming worlds are a good opportunity to explore – indeed, they offer significant creative potential.
We’d advise that brands:
- Identify their purpose in the metaverse. How do their services, products and content work within an experience? Brands need to fully understand what value they can add to this new medium of digital communities. Vans, for example, created ‘Vans World’ within Roblox – a space where skaters hang and show off their latest Vans merch, but also skate around, perform tricks and have fun – with 46M+ visits to date. Fashion brands in general are very well suited to the metaverse, given that users explore these worlds in the form of a virtual avatar whose clothing can be customized.
- Take audiences on a journey into the metaverse. Many people won’t have been in a world like this before, so how can brands lower the barrier to entry and make people’s experience more seamless? For example, brands can literally jump into their metaverse world as guides alongside consumers to help bridge any hesitancy or upskilling needed. This will be particularly relevant now and in the near future, while it’s still such a new medium for many.
- Understand their audience, and not just through existing audience insights from traditional social media. New developments have different audience behaviours: for example, ‘code switching’ – the idea that within virtual experiences, people can alter their gender, age, and more – has implications when it comes to targeting or generally talking to your audience. Building a metaverse audience understanding is critical.
- Identify the need for specific partners. Look for agencies, like We Are Social, who are experienced in helping brands navigate community and understand culture. From a production perspective, look for those who excel in immersive experiences, and building 3D worlds. This isn’t your standard approach to social production.
Ultimately, Meta is on a rapid development path, with $10 billion being spent this year alone. But while Meta will be one way into these disparate worlds, it isn’t going to be the only portal. The learnings brands can take on board now, by understanding the opportunities offered by the development of Meta, will correspond to other metaverse platforms in the future. It’s a new frontier – and one to be excited by.