1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. Digital Experience

Marketing in the Metaverse: The Future of Search & Social

The metaverse is poised for rapid growth that will open up opportunities for marketers. Here's what you need to know.

The metaverse is more than trending – just ask Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Microsoft, Epic Games (owner of Fortnite), and Roblox.

Is the metaverse a buzzword or buzzworthy? The next internet?

Marketers need to be in the know!

What is the Metaverse?

Imagine accessing a virtual universe where you can create an entire world, bringing your physical world experiences with you.

It was only thirty years ago that the internet became publicly available, and twenty years ago that many businesses realized that a website was a necessity for marketing.

And let’s not even talk about how long it took for social media networks to catch on.

Now, virtual reality experts predict that 58.9 million and 93.3 million people in the United States will use VR and AR respectively at least once a month this year — that’s 17.7% and 28.1% of the total US population, respectively.

At a conceptual level, the metaverse can be thought of as the successor-state to today’s internet – just as today’s predominantly mobile internet was built on top of fixed broadband internet of the 1990s and early 2000s, according to Matthew Ball’s Metaverse Fund.

The convergence of 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and edge cloud processing will soon make it easier to deliver more seamless, enjoyable, and cost-effective AR VR experiences across a variety of connected devices.

Just like the internet, industry insiders are predicting the metaverse will become a necessity for all brands.

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook is turning itself into a “metaverse” company, for what that’s worth. Meanwhile, tech journalist Tara Swisher says “the jury is still out” and thinks Apple or Google might be better suited to lead the metaverse revolution.

Metaverse Madness: 7 Quick Facts

1. Google Trends shows a significant climb in people searching the term metaverse in the last 12 months, hitting the 100 mark in March.

"Metaverse" chart of interest over time.Screenshot from Google Trends, Google, August 2021

2. Top-tier media are all in. Forbes has a weekly round-up covering all corners of the metaverse news written by tech futurist and metaverse strategist, Cathy Hackl.

3. There’s a fund. Matthew Ball, a media analyst and co-founder of the metaverse Investment Fund Metaverse ATF (NYSE: META) published The Metaverse Primer, a primer in 9 free essays that is a good starting point and someone to follow.

4. Chief Metaverse Officer and other metaverse titles. Search LinkedIn for the keyword “metaverse,” and you will find about 2700 results of people using metaverse in their profile title, headline, or experience.

5. Google News shows 175,000 search results for the keyword “metaverse news.”

6. On Twitter, #metaverse gets about 500+/- Tweets an hour depending on the news cycle.

7. Instagram shows more than 43K posts using #metaverse. Once known as a mobile photo-sharing app, Instagram insiders hint at a shift from photos to videos as the charge towards the metaverse marches on.

What Will Marketers Find in the Metaverse?

According to Wikipedia, the metaverse is the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the Internet. It’s a collective virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the Internet.

A metaverse is a place where everyone will have an avatar. It’s a virtual experience in 3D whether you are playing, creating, gaming, or exploring.

There is a shift in business mindset and adaptation from looking at a virtual reality beyond just gaming to using VR to create, explore, identify, express, collaborate, and socialize.

Thanks to the pandemic push of new technologies and opportunities, VR is quickly moving away from the traditional stigma of being a waste of time to the next technology revolution – much like mobile technology has shaped our culture from the first version of the iPhone to now.

Brands such as Gucci, Nike, Disney, Snap, and Facebook are in the midst of creating virtual communities, content, assets, fashion, art, experiences, and worlds.

We can now step out of our real world and into virtual worlds where we will have a new economy, environment, currency, and behaviors.

How Do Marketers and Brands Prepare for This Technology and Culture Revolution?

On today’s agenda: Using new technologies wrapping virtual reality around augmented reality, and artificial intelligence as part of the digital marketing strategy.

Much like the evolution of the Internet and the impact of mobile technology, savvy marketers will educate for change and adapt to new virtual worlds of opportunity.

Hackl points out that:

“Brands will need to rethink their narratives in three dimensions and that marketers will need to embrace emerging technology at a faster speed. In the metaverse, everyone is a world builder, including brands.”

How Can Brands and Marketers Stay Relevant?

Matt McGowan, Snap Director and General Manager Canada, says:

“For brands and marketers, it’s important to remember the value of Gen Z and millennials – or the Snapchat Generation, as we like to call them.”

Consider what happens in a person’s life between the ages of 13 and 34. They move out of the house for the first time, get their first apartment, first credit card, first car… and they start buying the day-to-day products that they will need at various points throughout the rest of their lives.

The Snapchat Generation has over $4.4 trillion in global spending power, and beyond that carries a massive influence on household purchasing (over 80% of parents of Gen Z report that this generation influences household spend).

McGowan also noted:

“There is deep, long-term value in our audience, which is why it’s important to reach them where they spend so much of their time – on their phones using apps like Snapchat.”

Matt McGowan headshot in real life and his Snapchat version.Your headshot in different worlds. Matt McGowan, Director and General Manager Canada at Snap, shows us his physical world headshot and metaverse avatar.

Here’s a starting point when it comes to SEO, social media, and public relations to get you started.

SEO and the Metaverse

Just like marketers transitioned into optimizing to get found in search engines like Google, YouTube and Bing, it’s time to start analyzing how to get found in the metaverse.

Brands can achieve this by staking their claim in a world, community, or platform that matches your audience.

Will search engines be the gateway to getting found in the metaverse? Having the keyword “metaverse” in a brand name, product or headline is helpful for getting found in search and social channels by those seeking that type of interaction.

AR Content Strategies, Local SEO, and More

Have a local restaurant, small business, or retail shop? Google’s AR/VR technologies create 3D experiences direct from your local listings and more.

According to Google:

“Augmented reality overlays digital content and information onto the physical world – as if they’re actually there with you,”

Using AR for trying on shoes, training someone how to do CPR, or sharing tips for applying cosmetics are all examples of how a brand’s content strategy can impact search results.

Eric Enge, author of The Art of SEO and co-founder of Pilot Holding, says:

“One of the key aspects of the Metaverse is the big role that image processing plays. Virtual reality augmented reality, and visual search all rely on it.

Yet it’s important to acknowledge that capabilities in this area are still developing and that practical applications remain limited in nature. However, some of these are quite interesting.”

Visual Search Plays a Key Role

Deep content is at the heart of any SEO Strategy. The more that content serves a user’s needs, the better in terms of driving SEO rankings and organic search traffic.

Images are a highly effective form of content. As Google gets better and better at understanding the content and quality of images, the bigger a factor this will become.

Take an audit of your current content strategy and see how you can implement AR, VR, and 3D experiences into your marketing plans.

Social Media and the Metaverse

Navah Berg in Horizon.

As mentioned earlier, Facebook sees its future self as a metaverse company.

Equipped with brands such as Oculus (the hardware), the virtual reality platform Facebook Horizon, and a newly formed Facebook Metaverse executive team, the social network seems ready to launch from 2D to 3D.

Facebook Metaverse Steps to Entry: Horizon

If you are ready to explore the metaverse through the eyes of Facebook:

  • Get yourself an Oculus 2 headset.
  • Create an Oculus account.
  • Sign up for Facebook Horizon [currently in beta].
  • And create your avatar in the Oculus Home dashboard.

No experience is necessary.

Navah Berg, Facebook Horizon Creator and co-founder of Women in Horizon, says:

“Connecting 2D newsfeeds to a 3D community in Horizon where world-building with others is truly a community-building experience. Horizon is the heart of the social metaverse.”

Once inside Horizon, you can do things like visit different worlds centered around specific interests and topics. You’ll find everything from gardening to gaming to meditation, and even community groups tied to Facebook Groups.

Created by early alpha-beta testers Berg and Paige Dansinger to empower women to build in Horizon, Women In VR host monthly meet-ups and hosted Facebook Horizon’s community leaders Q&A for their first Accelerator program. The group also holds Horizon world-building classes, and in early March had an all-day International Women’s Day event with meditation, speakers from Facebook, Futurists, and Social Media experts.

Facebook allows you to share moments in Horizon through Facebook Groups such as sharing your selfies and worlds from your 3D world to a 2D audience. They are creating a bridge between worlds.

It’s possible to create worlds, collaborate with others, host events, have meet-ups, take selfies, and create meaningful relationships, avatar-to-avatar.

Snapchat Metaverse AR World – Starting, Optimizing, and Trending

McGowan shared how brands can easily get started with AR on Snapchat:

“Our free Lens Web Builder tool is a great way to get started with AR on Snapchat. It offers an easy, fast way for anyone to build compelling, professional AR Lenses in minutes either through templates with a pre-selected combination of 3D assets or from scratch.”

Released this week, Snapchat Trends is a public, web-based tool for advertisers, partners, and more to learn which words and phrases are trending across Snapchat and what’s driving buzz for our community of 500 million monthly active users.

For partners, it’s a great way to understand and get visibility into the community’s interests in real-time, said McGowan.

Spectacle-Ular World, Bitmojis Strike a Pose

Snap is also snapping into 3D content at a steady pace. With its beta launch of Spectacles: The Next Generation, creators are pushing the boundaries of what our 3D world will look like.

Strike a Pose, There’s Nothing to It – AR Vogue

Ready and willing to capture the hearts of 16-25-year-olds, Snap also recently launched new 3D, fashion-forward Bitmojis. You can dress your avatar with your favorite brand and be the best digital version of the real you.

3D Bitmojis avatars.Snapchat 3D Bitmojis over more than 1200 choices to pose, dress and backgrounds.

Public Relations and Metaverse Media

Brands dipping their toes in the metaverse today are making headlines. 60 Minutes recently featured the story on how nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are making it possible for people to buy and sell goods, and use them in the metaverse.

It’s a convergence of the physical world with the digital world.

Creative ways to use AR, VR and dip your PR toes in the metaverse:

  • Start creating content using AR. For inspiration check out the book cover promotion using augmented reality.
  • Host or attend an event in VR on platforms such as AltSpace VR or Facebook Horizon.
  • Partner with creators and influencers who are already in the space to get a boost forward.
  • Create PR content using AR as a way to stand out when pitching stories direct to an audience or to journalists.
  • Set up Google Alerts to follow “metaverse” in the news to start educating yourself and see how your brand can fit into the narrative.
  • Start interacting and following the journalists, reporters, and analysts who are covering AR/VR and the metaverse.

The Future is Now

It is now possible to create (or hire) a virtual being, the new influencers for your brand can be the perfect spokesperson or ambassador, or concierge. Check out a recent podcast interview between Guy Kawasaki and Kuki, an artificial intelligence chatbot.

Virtual beings are already part of our daily lives — just not in 3D.

Think Alexa and Siri.

Metaverse Marketing Conclusion

Looking at the world through AR glasses and leveraging immersive technologies are the waves of the near future.

How are you planning to surf through these new ways of communication and venture out past the shore of today to take a plunge in the waters the metaverse brings for tomorrow?

The internet might have taken 30 years to get where it is today, but the metaverse is poised for rapid growth with technology primed and humans ready to crossover into new worlds.

In the metaverse, I wear Gucci.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Featured image: is.a.bella/Shutterstock
Matt McGowan headshots used with permission
Cathy Hackl Instagram post used with permission

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Lisa Buyer CEO and Social PR Consultant at The Buyer Group - A Media and PR Training Company

Covering the Digital PR Meteaverse and more. Looking for the latest Digital PR/SEO/Social Media trends or marketing life hacks? Meet ...

Marketing in the Metaverse: The Future of Search & Social

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.