We’re living in the dawn of the age of the metaverse. This is a time when virtual reality and augmented reality are no longer figments of our imagination or topics of popular science fiction movies but viable methods of communication and engagement. In this brave new world, content marketing is more important for businesses than ever, especially if they are to connect with the younger meta-native generations.
But how does content marketing work in a metaverse? How does content marketing in a virtual environment differ from content marketing in web 2.0? This is an exciting question to address and one that every business, no matter what industry it’s in, should be asking itself. Read on to learn the answer.
What is the metaverse, and how does it work?
The metaverse is a term coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. It refers to a shared, virtual space where people can interact with each other and with computer-generated, AI-powered content and objects. Based on the original vision of the metaverse, it’s not just one space but many interconnected virtual spaces, like the internet, but three-dimensional. This is why many consider the metaverse as the next evolution of the internet, a.k.a. Web 3.0.
In this new version of the internet, one powered by blockchain technology that fosters ownership of digital assets through non-fungible tokens or NFTs, a new digital economy will take hold. Business will likely be carried out in cryptocurrencies and exchanged for fiat currencies in popular crypto exchanges like Binance.
The metaverse isn’t here yet
It’s important to note that the metaverse is still only in its infancy, and the idea, as defined above, doesn’t yet exist. In fact, it’s unlikely to exist anytime soon, at least not in the following decade. What form it eventually takes is hard to tell, as there are many technical issues to solve, and many multinational tech corporations invested in dominating the technology for personal gain.
We will unlikely be as lucky with the metaverse as we were with the internet. In the latter case, we got a relatively level playing field thanks to the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, making the technology free to anyone who wanted to use it. It’s thanks to open standards such as HTML, TCP/IP, and HTTP that we can all go online and use the internet today.
We need similar standards to interconnect different virtual worlds built on different platforms if we are to see a true metaverse unfold.
A collection of little metaverses
In the meantime, there are already a few examples of virtual spaces that can be considered proto-metaverses. One of the first notable examples is probably Second Life, a virtual world launched in 2003 that is still around today and has over a million active users. Other well-known examples include World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Roblox, and Decentraland, to name only a few popular platforms.
The metaverse promises new ways to experience content
The potential of the metaverse for content marketing is enormous. It opens up new ways to experience and interact with content and gives businesses new ways to connect with their customers on a deeper level than ever before.
Interactivity is content’s new middle name
In a metaverse, businesses can create their own virtual spaces where they can control the environment and the interactions that take place. The key word here is “interaction.” People who dive into the metaverse will not likely be interested in flat words on a blog post that only provides information one way. They’ll want to interact with the information and content they see or read, modify it, experiment with it, transform it in different ways and make it their own.
This represents a challenge for content creators and marketers alike. Still, it also represents an opportunity to create truly innovative and engaging content that will capture the attention of metaverse users like never before.
Web browser 3D apps
Let’s look at how things stand today. Most current metaverse platforms are not true VR environments but computer-generated 3D worlds we can enter and navigate using a web browser. This is the basis of massively multiplayer online games or MMOs like the ones we mentioned above.
We don’t really experience these virtual worlds as VR because most of them aren’t powered by VR technology, and we can’t access them through a VR headset. However, they offer a different way to experience content than your ordinary flat website.
Full-fledged mass-market VR is the first milestone to hit if we’re ever to see the true metaverse come to be. VR provides a more immersive way to experience content that is more effective at driving viewers down a sales funnel or getting them to take action. Some metaverse platforms already work with VR, and many businesses are experimenting by creating content for these platforms.
If you follow tech news closely, you’ll notice that the giant from Cupertino, Apple, has kept relatively quiet about VR technology and the metaverse. The reason is that they’re betting big on augmented reality or AR. This technology has been around for a while but is only now becoming mainstream.
If Apple pushes towards AR rather than VR, the metaverse may not evolve as initially envisioned. It wouldn’t be the first time Apple sets a new world-disrupting trend.
AR requires an entirely different type of content than VR because it doesn’t immerse us in a computer-generated world but rather superimposes digital content on top of our regular reality. This makes for some exciting possibilities, but it also means that businesses must rethink their content strategy if they want to be present in the metaverse.
Mixed reality or MR is a combination of AR and VR. It’s an emerging technology still in its early days, but it holds great promise for the metaverse. MR allows businesses to create content that consumers can experience differently depending on their setup. For example, someone with an AR headset would see digital content overlaid on their real-world surroundings, while someone with a VR headset would be immersed in a completely virtual world.
Flexibility is vital, and it implies that businesses must create content that works for different types of platforms. This will become increasingly important as the metaverse takes shape and more platforms emerge.
Type of content for the metaverse
Now that we know how users will likely experience content in the metaverse, let’s explore what type of content they’ll want to experience and share.
User-generated content will be king
User-generated content is already king in most current versions of the metaverse. With potentially millions, if not billions, of people going online and many creating their unique VR, AR, or MR experiences, businesses will have to get creative if they want to stand out.
Metaverse content is the evolution of social media
Some futurists consider the metaverse as a VR version of current social media. That means businesses will have to create content that is social by design and that encourages users to interact with each other.
Ad copy will remain much the same
Advertising copy in the metaverse will be very similar to advertising copy in Web 2.0. The only difference is that businesses will have to create digital versions of their ads that users can experience in VR, AR, or MR. This implies the need to think of new ways to integrate ads into the user experience since your traditional banners and pop-ups will likely have to evolve.
For example, they could be integrated into the environment by virtual billboards (many already are) or triggered by specific user actions, similar to finding treasures in an online 3D game.
Next-level sponsored content
Since most of the content in the metaverse will be user-generated, sponsored and branded content will also have a significant role to play. Businesses that still don’t have a strong foothold in the metaverse will have to sponsor content creators to get their message across.
This represents an excellent opportunity for content creators, but it also means that businesses must be very strategic about who they sponsor and what type of content they create.
Virtual concerts, contests, galas, and other events
Another possibility is to sponsor specific events in the metaverse. This could range from sponsoring music concerts to product launches and everything in between.
Type of content assets for the metaverse
Web 2.0 content is based on videos, blog posts and other forms of text, podcasts and other forms of audio, and infographics. The metaverse, or Web 3.0, will need its own set of assets custom-tailored to its particular characteristics. Some of these assets include:
360° video is already here and will be one of the most popular types of content in the early metaverse. This is because it’s easy to create, it’s already on YouTube, and we can watch it in VR. However, as VR and AR technology continues to evolve, 360° video will quickly become outdated because of its low level of interactivity.
Blog posts will likely need to evolve, but they’ll still be around
Blog posts will likely stick around in the early days of the metaverse. However, they’ll need to evolve to take advantage of the new medium. For example, blog posts could be designed specifically for VR headsets or include interactive elements that make them more engaging.
Alternatively, they could be overlaid on virtual books, magazines, or screens, making the experience different from what it is today.
3D models and 3D design will be big in the metaverse
3D models are the metaverse-native type of content asset. They span anything from whole environments to objects, characters, 3D models of products, buildings, and logos.
Graphic design will be more important than ever
Graphic design will be even more important in the metaverse than it is today because the metaverse is much more visual than Web 2.0.
Interactive 3D infographics will be common
Infographics will continue to be popular in the metaverse, but not the traditional flat infographic we can whip up in Canva or a similar tool. Not even the enticing animated infographics we can create using Visme or other options. They’ll need to be a) 3D, so they integrate with the VR or AR environment, and b) Interactive, so users can explore them.
Unique VR experiences will be in demand
Lastly, businesses must create unique VR experiences that users can’t find anywhere else. This type of interactive content could include virtual tours of their products or facilities to interactive demonstrations of their services.
The bottom line
The emergence of the metaverse is changing how we interact and experience the internet. New forms of decentralized payments that cost only a fraction of credit card transaction fees are disrupting the way we shop and purchase goods online. With this new virtual economy, new business models and new ways to market products and services are also emerging.
As technology rapidly evolves and gives rise to a true metaverse, businesses need to start thinking about how they can create content for this new frontier. This new medium will require a different set of assets, new skills for content creation, and a different overall approach to content marketing. We’ve provided just a few examples of the types of content and assets businesses will need to create for the metaverse. However, this list will probably change and grow as time passes, so brands that want to succeed on the new internet need to think outside the box. Thanks for reading!