Brands and the Metaverse

Branding
21.04.22

While companies are trying to find new ways to engage with their audiences in virtual spaces, such as  in the metaverse, they should take note that many consumers have uncertain and vague opinions about the metaverse.

A very small percentage of people have stated they’re very familiar with the metaverse, or that they’re able to understand it and correctly describe it to other people.

That means most consumers don’t have a clear idea of the subject, and while they have heard about the metaverse, plenty of people aren’t sure what it means.

This calls into question the importance of the metaverse for many companies who are looking to engage with customers in new ways, as it seems that many customers first need to get educated on the subject before looking for brand experiences in the new space.

Metaverse

Generally, the metaverse gives brands plenty of different ways to provide their customers with interactive 3-D image or VR experiences. From the start of the pandemic, plenty of businesses have been trying to reshape or change the digital experience of discovering and browsing for products or services online.

That has included attempts at augmented reality and virtual try ons for various buying experiences. While virtual shopping doesn’t come as a surprise with the advances of technology, the biggest brands that are involved in the space are the companies that have the capital to invest in it in the first place.

Association with Facebook

One of the biggest problems that many consumers seem to have, primarily those that are familiar with what the metaverse is about, is the association that the metaverse has with Facebook. Plenty of consumers tend to associate the metaverse with the social media platform created by Mark Zuckerberg, which ends up making a lot of negative associations in the minds of consumers about the space.

That’s largely because of the recently publicized negative effects that the social media platform has on young consumers, as well as its effect on democracy and public discourse.

Companies that want to use the metaverse to engage with audiences first have to work on distancing themselves from Meta, and defining themselves outside of the social media giant, as well as demonstrating to consumers that they provide only safe and secure virtual spaces.

Many consumers have a lot to learn about when it comes to the metaverse, which slows down the idea that companies have about a quick adoption process of this virtual space.

NFTs and Ads

Business spots in the metaverse aren’t going to resemble the real world unless they come with branded environments and billboards. Plenty of advertising companies have been looking to monetize some of the virtual real estate inside the metaverse with the help of cryptocurrencies.

Aside from cryptocurrency, the virtual space is also tied together with NFTs, which are only popular with a few people. If companies want to avoid damaging their reputation, they have to be careful while implementing digital collectibles in the virtual space.

Navigating PR inside the Metaverse

Public relations trends have continued to change, and with the advent of the metaverse, the PR industry has to reinvent itself yet again. With e-commerce sales skyrocketing, as well as social media platforms along the likes of Tiktok, becoming increasingly popular with consumers, most public relations efforts have become completely digital.

With this new future of immersive marketing and digital social bubbles, public relations needs to create a brand new rulebook. To keep new target audiences engaged, PR agencies will have to improve their digital promotional efforts. The days of influencer partnerships and social media ads are going away fairly soon, which means it’s time for PR professionals to start looking into immersive experiences for customers. With brand new VR and AR technologies being developed all over the world, users have started expecting both immersion and interaction when consuming media. These days, consumers are a lot more active in the digital space, which means all of their gratifications have started becoming a lot more active as well.

Virtual Spaces and Consumers

A great way for PR professionals to boost client engagements both in digital and real-world spaces is by collaborating with other brands in person, as well as inside the metaverse.

With many consumers creating their own virtual avatars inside the digital space, it’s time for PR agencies to encourage their clients to create virtual versions of their products or services by partnering with other brands.

This will create a more inclusive and digitally native experience for their customers. The key to this strategy is cross-promotion because to get the most out of PR efforts, it’s important for companies to prioritize both their existing customers, as well as new customers that are coming into the virtual space.

Engagement

For many PR agencies, engaging with a client’s customers inside the metaverse is going to be a bit tricky.

These days, many customers have started becoming more active in the digital space, which means they see through PR promotional tricks. Instead of tricking them, PR professionals will need to show these customers that companies are listening to them, and then create campaigns that directly target those customers to generate more success for their clients.

The future of customer engagement and customer experiences is going to be all about providing target audiences with brand new and positive experiences. The key to success in this ever-changing digital space is staying ahead of any trends, managing brand reputation, and staying on top of newsjacking.

Product Placement

Although the metaverse might seem like a fairly new thing to many consumers, the industry of virtual product placement has already started. In the past, product placement entailed gifting a journalist, a media outlet, or even an influencer a product in the hope that they would either share their experiences with that product or write an article about it, which would increase a company’s brand awareness and sales. However, with many brands starting to create virtual versions of their products or services, it’s time to start utilizing product placement inside virtual platforms such as Fortnite or Roblox.

PR Lessons in the Metaverse

By getting more familiar with the metaverse as soon as possible, companies are more likely to stay ahead of their competitors instead of falling behind them. Plenty of companies used to be dismissive of the internet itself, especially in its early days. Eventually, everyone decided to get on board, and now it’s rare for a company to not be available in the digital space.

Only a handful of businesses didn’t see the wave of change that was coming with the Internet and digital PR back then, and it was only for a short period of time. Although these days having a digital presence isn’t a very deep thought, the same logic can be applied to the metaverse in the future.

Learning

Much like the Internet a few decades ago, the meta-verse seems to be getting introduced now, but it’s going to be here to stay, which means the next order of business is for companies to get up to speed on this new digital space.

While a number of brands have already started developing new, engaging, and initiative virtual experiences for their customers, leveraging cryptocurrencies, and even creating NFTs, there are still plenty of companies, and even entire industries, that haven’t yet familiarized themselves with the meta-verse.

Companies both big and small need to get a better understanding of the metaverse, how consumers are going to be engaging with it, what it is, and how it’s going to work. This time should be used as a learning experience so that companies can better understand what’s going to be happening, and how they should be proceeding in the future/

Starting Small

Even if a company is ready to launch its brand inside the metaverse in a week, the truth is that most of the digital landscape is still being created. This is similar to the earliest days of the Internet, with different platforms and companies starting to develop the new digital space.

For instance, instead of the meta-verse being a single space like the Internet, it’s actually several different platforms that have been created by a variety of brands.

Just as companies a few decades ago didn’t have to take their business operations entirely online in a single day, these days they don’t have to shift their operations into the meta-verse inside a single day either. It’s smart for companies to take their time and learn more about this new digital space.

This is the best way that they can lay the foundation for any of their long-term goals. The best way for companies to proceed is by figuring out what’s going to make the most sense for their brands, their target audiences, as well as their industries.

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