The Future of Influencer Marketing in the Metaverse
The Metaverse has been a hot topic in recent years. Defined as an immersive virtual environment populated by virtual avatars controlled by real people, the Metaverse mimics a virtual reality game in real life.
What makes the Metaverse different than the online world? Metaverse is always on, exists in real time, and gives individual players agency in a self-contained universe.
If that sounds like something out of Black Mirror or new video games, it’s not far off. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the brains behind the whole thing, the Metaverse is an embodied internet to consume content beyond a phone screen. We’ll get more socialization, but it will take place in an interactive virtual world that’s set to shape the future of marketing.
Brave New World
Zuckerberg’s vision for the Metaverse may seem like a sci-fi plotline, but it’s not far from what we already experience. We spend hours on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Social distancing in the pandemic ushered in a new way to experience the world, such as augmented-reality and virtual-reality tours, virtual concerts, and online corporate meetings.
Aside from the social aspects, Mark Zuckerberg envisions a more equal world where people can access education and professional opportunities from anywhere. Along with it, we can imagine a collective virtual ecosystem in the Metaverse that coexists with the physical one – a world with its own economy, shopping, media, and workplaces.
There’s also Decentraland, a virtual reality with decentralized Ethereum cryptocurrency that allows people to develop real estate, buy land, trade digital artwork through the NFT market, and attend events and exhibitions. People can own and sell real estate, or get a virtual job that pays in cryptocurrency.
Major brands, fashion icons, artists, auction houses, and more are jumping on board and pioneering marketing in the Metaverse, such as Gucci Garden and Coca-Cola. A lot will change, but what about influencer marketing?
Influencer Marketing in the Metaverse
The Metaverse is poised to change everything. Born of the mind behind one of the most popular social media platforms ever, we can expect that the Metaverse will permanently alter the landscape of social media and the influencer marketing that rose from it.
Mark Zuckerberg hopes that brands (personal or otherwise) that are primarily social media will become Metaverse brands, which likely includes the creator economy of influencers in an influencer-centric ecosystem.
More data will be accessible to marketers than ever before, leading to precise and valuable data for an unparalleled experience. Content creators will create virtual avatar personalities to continue as influencers, dictating the trends that follow in digital experience, influencer campaigns, and social commerce.
In fact, many have already begun. Brands are developing digital influencer marketing agencies in Decentraland, hoping to fuel the growth of influencers in the new virtual economy.
The potential for influencers is nearly limitless. The Metaverse allows a deeper level of communication, content, and interaction. For example, an influencer in travel can partner with another to travel to the hottest destinations together, only virtually.
What About Virtual Influencers?
With the Metaverse, what remains to be seen is whether real-life influencers or virtual influencers will reign supreme. AI- and CGI-enabled virtual influencers are already gaining traction as a virtual personality that a creator has full control over, so there’s little risk of controversial topics or faux pas that can harm a brand image.
Here are some benefits:
- Brands have total control over the image, from the look and personality to the clothing, atmosphere, and values that they project. Even the best real influencer is going to inject some of their own values, image, and beliefs into their audience – creators can’t fully hide who they are.
- No physical or technical limitations over long distances or amid the rise of new COVID variants. The entire environment is digitized, so brands don’t have to rely on real-world settings.
- Less risk of controversy from an influencer going off the cuff. Though it doesn’t happen often, influencers can do or say the wrong thing while promoting a brand, receiving backlash from the audience. They also have pasts, which can be dragged up to tarnish their image and associations. Virtual influencers have no risk, since brands are entirely in control.
Whether real or virtual, influencer marketing is young among marketing strategies, and there are numerous brands that still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. The Metaverse is likely to skyrocket influencer marketing, however, so anyone not on board yet may be hopelessly behind.
Get Ready for the Metaverse and an Influencer-Centric Ecosystem
It’s not whether the Metaverse will succeed, but whether brands and content creators know how they fit in the new virtual world and digital experience. The possibilities of the Metaverse are endless and can be leveraged in nearly any industry. Social media marketing and influencer marketing are expected to thrive, though we’re not sure exactly what that will look like in the new virtual economy and ecosystem in the Metaverse.