The year 2021 was many things - some good and, unfortunately, some that made it a spin around the sun that we as a society would rather forget.
But one development late last year could have an outsized impact compared to the attention it’s garnered since the announcement: Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook as Meta.
And Zuck made this decision at the end of a year that was undoubtedly the mainstream coming-out-party for cryptocurrencies, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and the metaverse concept.
Here are the popular naysayer responses to these two topics:
#1. Mark Zuckerberg is a villain who looks like a vampire (not a personal opinion, I’m just referring to that famous paparazzi photo of him wakeboarding with a horrible sunscreen application that everybody in the world has seen). So who cares about Facebook and what Mark Zuckerberg thinks!
#2. Crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse are dumb or unsafe or silly or not going to last or just a fad, or insert another negative adjective here.
There isn’t enough room in this post to delve into the specifics of NFTs or the metaverse, so I’m only going to attempt to do one thing:
If you are a business owner or stakeholder at a large company, this post was written to convince you why you need to change your mind if you believe #1 or #2 above.
Why What Mark Zuckerberg Thinks and Does Matter to Your Business
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: sure, maybe Mark Zuckerberg wears too much sunscreen.
But do you know what Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t do very often? He doesn’t bet his entire company on things that don’t work out. Regardless of what you think of Zuckerberg, within the tech space, he is consistently correct.
This is the single biggest reason I’m concerned for you if you don’t care about what Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg thinks. Because if you don’t care about what Zuck thinks or what bets Facebook - sorry, Meta - are making, then you can’t tail their actions with your business. Which means you can’t win big.
If you currently have a negative opinion of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, here’s what you do:
#1. Forget everything you think you know and everything negative you’ve seen or read about Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook on social media.
#2. Realize that Facebook has been one of a few dominant players in the tech space since 2005 and that Mark Zuckerberg has led Facebook through various changes and iterations, each time achieving success and, very often, changing the world in some way.
#3. Figure out how you can be like Mark Zuckerberg. Read everything you can about how and why he is betting on the metaverse and figure out as many ways as you possibly can to position your business or company to hitch its wagon to the metaverse, too.
Pros and Cons of the Metaverse
The metaverse is about opportunity and imagination. The video gaming industry, with its 178 billion U.S. dollar market value in 2021, has been building and trading in the metaverse for a while. As with everything, there are pros and cons to the Metaverse, but what are they?
Virtual economic opportunities. The economic possibilities within the metaverse are endless, and some have not been created yet. The current virtual economy includes property and NFTs traded with cryptocurrencies by companies such as Gucci and Adidas. Not only can goods be bought in the virtual world, but the ‘real world’ version of those goods can be bought, creating a bridge between two economies.
Expanding branding opportunities. Currently, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others are used to promote brands. The metaverse offers continuously growing platforms in virtual space to do the same.
Doing business virtually. Many businesses expanded via e-commerce and adapted to working online instead of just at the office. The metaverse is another platform to create a business and engage with clients or customers.
Access to advanced digital technologies. Doing business in virtual worlds requires access to new technologies such as a VR headset, a fast and stable internet connection, and people that understand the technology behind it. It is not available to all businesses or potential customers.
Privacy and security risks. Risk management is a business basic. Companies are already struggling to manage risks like data breaches in the current business environment, which is costly. The metaverse could increase those risks and costs.
Okay, But What is “The Metaverse,” and How Can It Help My Business?
Here’s a thing that the most brilliant people in the world do: they view things through different lenses.
As an example, the following statement says several things, but it’s clear they’re all viewed through the same lens (one that is negative):
Crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse are dumb and just a fad; none of them will last long.
Somebody equipped to use different lenses with which to filter truths might have two thoughts that might appear to be mutually exclusive but are not:
Crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse seem dumb to me, BUT they are growing in popularity every day, and tons of young people are into them. So I’m going to figure out how to use these things to benefit my business.
Good Metaverse Candidates
Meta has already shown its commitment to the metaverse, and so has Microsoft with the purchase of Activision Blizzard Inc., a game developer and interactive entertainment content publisher.
In the 2022 Instagram Trend Report, which looks ahead to upcoming trends defined by Gen-Z, they state that games are the new mall. It is where the new generation socializes and spends their money on skins for their avatar in games like Roblox or Fortnite. Since this generation is comfortable with the metaverse, retailers and designers can launch or sell goods targeted at this market on the platform.
The metaverse is also the perfect space for the entertainment industry, whether for concerts or a movie. The American female singer Ariana Grande held a virtual concert in the game Fortnite that attracted nearly 78 million players.
There are indications that Apple will launch an AR/VR headset in the coming year. With so many passionate followers of the brand, a whole new consumer segment can be exposed to the metaverse. A car manufacturer can launch a vehicle in the metaverse to this segment, especially if it has a futuristic design.
Activism is also a Gen-Z trend, so non-profit, community-minded, and environmental groups can use the metaverse to attract new donors or advocates worldwide.
Whether your business intends to build a social experience in a virtual world, launch new characters underpinned by NFTs or sell products, the reality is that doing business in the metaverse currently means generating value for others instead of using it as a quick money-making opportunity.
How the Metaverse Could Affect your Business in the Next Five Years?
The impact of the Metaverse on business is not a matter of when; it is already a matter of how. Large companies generally have the financial and technological access required to do business in the metaverse. Small businesses could consider collaborating if the metaverse is where they feel their service or product should be offered.
Let’s look at the possible impact of the Metaverse on some core business sectors in the next five years.
Real Estate. Location, location, location is what property in the real world is about. And the same goes for land in the Metaverse. The value of real estate increases when it is closer to the center of the metaverse, with high-quality neighbors. Some celebrities have already invested in the metaverse, and fans are following their lead. Physical-world real estate processes will continue within the virtual world.
Financial Services. It is expected that the metaverse will cause decentralization in financial services. User-generated ecosystems will develop, giving rise to virtual societies that transact and engage outside the real-world banking system. NFT sales reached 25 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and although there are fluctuations, the market will continue to grow.
Manufacturing. It is possible to create an industrial metaverse with a combination of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), artificial intelligence (AI), and other systems. Product design, development, trial production, operation management, and other services can be simulated and verified in the virtual community by AI before it is transferred to the physical world for production.
Five Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse
Get your small business ready for the Metaverse by making changes now, or include the opportunity in your future planning. It might take time to set up the necessary infrastructure. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Identify your Niche
The metaverse is about connecting people and technology in a virtual world. The first step to identifying your business niche is to clarify what you want the metaverse to do for your business. Then decide how to use technology to get it.
2. Consider Rebranding
Since the metaverse focuses on connectivity, whether digitally or socially, consider rebranding if your brand does not reflect this characteristic. Rebranding could be updating your logo or existing images.
3. Claim Your Business on Search Engines
Claim the online presence of your business on search engines such as Google. Previously known as Google My Business, you can now access your business information directly on Google Maps or Search.
Claiming and maintaining your business presence online offers the opportunity to drive business to your site and generate more customers. Keep the information up to date. You will lose customers if they don’t know where to find you.
4. Keep the Traditional Way of Doing Business
The metaverse is exciting, but most customers have not even heard of it. If they are interested in the traditional way of doing business, engage with them in this way. However, keep up to date with progress in the metaverse and consider how your business might get involved in the future.
5. Be Adaptable
The metaverse changes continuously, and though it might not be relevant to your small business now, keep up to date with what is happening. Then when you want to enter the metaverse, your business is ready.
Regardless of your personal opinion on things like crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse, I urge you to view them through a lens that allows you to see their potential use-cases in your business. Because these are the facts:
- The metaverse may be the next great digital hangout for today’s kids (high school/college age), and indeed, their kids
- NFTs and crypto have many more use cases than just what you’ve heard on the news (that an NFT sold for millions and that Dogecoin crashed)
And in the coming years, your customers will be in the metaverse—will you be there too?