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Opinion: How marketing and brand advocacy will change in the metaverse

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Ajit Narayan, CMO, Socxo shares his thoughts on how metaverse is still an unknown entity and marketers need to prepare for it with facts, research, and data, and not FOMO.

Metaverse is cooking. But the recipe beyond the basics is still being discovered and it will be so till orders start coming. Let’s get this straight and I am calling it. The metaverse is still an unknown entity. While the buzz around it, and the brands, early adopters and geeks are jumping into it headlong, what will happen to it and will it be around is a question that we can’t answer right now?

And here are some stats as of January 2022 (Source: Statista)

  • 31% of surveyed adults in the US had never heard of the metaverse
  • Another 31% had heard of it but weren’t familiar with it
  • 24% were only somewhat familiar

So, the unknown element is relatively high. And no one has been spotted going around wearing headsets yet. So, hold your horses. However, this is a signal of something big coming our way. It’s just that we don’t know whether it will be a hit or a miss.

There is the FOMO angle which is creating the buzz. And marketers are the first to experience it.

They don’t want to miss out on the big one by waiting outside.

The metaverse involves a whole lot of moving parts (AI, video, blockchain, etc.) and humongous amounts of data that will be complex to interpret and use. The flip side of the data above is true as well. Estimated 50 million plus + VR users already. (Source Statista) So it is not something to be ignored. 

Marketing could have an added dimension to it in the coming days. And that will include marketing in the metaverse. 

This includes three fundamental shifts in thinking. 

  1. Metaverse is always on. Just because you logged out, does not mean it has closed. But then, the internet is on too you might say. There’s a big difference here. And that’s about people actually wanting to interact then and there with you as against, filling up a form or reply to a chatbot. They expect you to be there.
  2. Your audiences will be there alright. But you now have to deal with multiple personalities of the same persona. As if one persona was not enough. The same person could interact differently in the real world and complexly different in the metaverse. Making it challenging to identify audiences and deliver customer experiences.
  3. Interactions will traverse the physical and digital worlds. Including currencies.

Also Read: YouTube announces new ways for creators to make money, supporting the next wave of global creative entrepreneurs

That said how will it impact marketing?  

Event Marketing will go to the next level. Already, virtual interactions through chatbots, webinars etc have caught on post the pandemic, but this takes it to a different level altogether. Imagine doing virtual sampling, meeting peer groups, playing virtual games, networking, sampling, visiting showrooms etc all with your avataars in metaverse events.

Social media and metaverse. Imagine engagements in the metaverse, reflecting in real world social media channels? Interactions, exchange and conversation will cross pollinate taking the buzz to a whole new level.

Content marketing? Move over video. This is the space for interactive content. Action, Reaction and Decisions on the spot. No longer will people be sitting back and watching your videos, they would expect to be interactively engaged and would want to take part in the activity while your content tells the story.

Relationship programmes will become more complex. The perks of being in a programme would go beyond just points and coupons. Stretch it to NFT’s metaverse concerts, exclusive environments, modifications to avatars and more.

A whole new retail environment re-imagined. And one that could offer cross-channel benefits. Buy in the metaverse, get cash back in the real world and so on. 

Given this complex and multidimensional scenario. Advocacy will have more dimensions to deal with. Imagine customers with your brand’s tattoos in the metaverse? Or referrals getting generated in the metaverse, but converting in the real world? Events, Social and Content and the key elements in Brand Advocacy. Add to that rewards, redemptions and perks. 

While advocacy depends on content and sharing. Imagine being able to offer your advocates rewards in both environments and getting them to share content across dimensions. Some examples:

  • Nike one of the early adopters sells Cryptokicks a virtual version of their sneakers. Add to that they have also created Nikeland in Roblox a popular (among metaverse users) environment. 
  • Chipotle let Roblox players exchange virtual vouchers for burritos in real life
  • Ariana Grande collaborated with Fortnite to provide players with an interdimensional musical journey. She performed her most popular hits such as Raindrops, 7 Rings etc. 
  • Millennium Hotels and Resorts launched M Social Decentraland, the world’s first hospitality group to operate a hotel in the metaverse virtual world.

In this interactive experience, those who reach the top of Decentraland, and share a screenshot of their Avatar with hashtag #MSocialDecentraland on their social channels, have a chance to win real-world hotel rewards.

There are many more out there. And looks like an exciting time for the marketing fraternity to create buzz and help in the building of Metaverse. As much of it is still very much “under construction”

This article is authored by Ajit Narayan, CMO, Socxo.

Ajit Narayan metaverse marketing and brand advocacy