The rise of virtual reality worlds like the Metaverse are creating innovative opportunities for businesses and remote work.
The earliest use of the term Metaverse was in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash, originally published in 1992. Stephenson prophesised the metaverse as “a computer-generated universe” in which his computer draws onto his goggles and pumps into his earphones (Zickgraf, 2021). Stephenson’s science fiction world depicts a blurring of the virtual and real world. This is representative of the next evolution of the internet, which Meta Platforms are developing.
Facebook’s Rebranding To Meta
In 2021, the technology company formerly known as Facebook Inc., rebranded as Meta Platforms Inc., also known as Meta. This rebranding simultaneously announced Meta’s on-going development of what the company proclaim as the “next evolution of social connection” (Meta, 2021a). The brand name Meta functions as an umbrella term, which encompasses the apps and technologies under one company name. Meta consists of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Whatsapp and Oculus, which together, represent Meta Platforms.
This rebranding to Meta reflects CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision to “bring the metaverse to life”. The Metaverse generates new ways that will “help people connect, find communities and grow businesses” (Meta, 2021a). This digital realm of the Metaverse is a “hybrid of today’s online social experiences”, including mixed reality experiences. These mixed realities will be “projected into the physical world” (Meta, 2021a).
Across the next decade, Meta aims to establish social connection in the Metaverse. This will happen through the experiences provided by the platform, for example gaming, work, education, fitness, entertainment and commerce (Meta, 2021a).
The Metaverse is a very vast concept, therefore this blog post will focus on what the Metaverse will mean for all things business, work and the professional world. We will now explore whether the Metaverse is a good idea for business growth.
What Is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a collection of three-dimensional (3D) and immersive digital spaces. These spaces facilitate virtual and augmented opportunities for socialising, learning, collaboration and gaming. In the Metaverse, not only will the 3D technologies be able to replicate our real-world spaces. They will also allow users to discover new worlds through virtual and augmented realities. These virtual experiences will occur through the Oculus Quest 2 headsets, which allow users to join friends and family in virtual spaces. This includes in virtual workrooms, concerts, sports events, and much more (Meta, 2021b). These virtual experiences aim to create a sense of togetherness by creating shared experiences for friends, family and colleagues. Some shared experiences include the participation in real-world activities, for example, learning, creating, socialising, working and shopping, in cyberspace.
In a more technical sense, the Metaverse runs on virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), extended reality (XR), artificial intelligence (AI), and spatial computing technologies (Awosika, 2022). To gain access to these mixed reality realms, users need to have certain devices. This ranges from smartphones, laptops and IoT devices, to VR and AR products, for instance, Google’s Oculus VR headsets or Microsoft’s HoloLens.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies power the Metaverse economy. These provide the foundation for users to purchase products and access particular services. NFTs let users create unique digital assets, including avatar skins and accessories, which are used in the virtual universe (Awosika, 2022).
Remote Work is on the Rise
Without a doubt, the way we are working is shifting. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work has been on the rise. We saw a ubiquitous shift of educational, professional and social lives to the online sphere. During this shift, video conferencing companies saw an exponential growth in downloads and sales. Zoom is a key example of this, which experienced ‘more than 300 million daily participants in virtual meetings’. As well as this, paying customers had ‘more than tripled’ since the pandemic (Sherman, 2020).
Facebook rebranded to Meta during this crucial time, when the everyday lives and quotidian tasks of working, studying and socialising were altered to a remote and online way of life. However, it has become evident that for many, remote work and hybrid work is here to stay. The statistics below show that remote work is favoured amongst employers. While among employees, there is a high demand for a hybrid work approach, which involves a mix of remote and office work:
- Fifty of the biggest UK employers said they have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time (Jack, 2020).
- 85% of employees currently working from home want a ‘hybrid’ approach of both home and office working (Census, 2021).
In line with this rise of remote work, Meta developed Horizon Workrooms. Workrooms allow users to communicate, collaborate and work together remotely in a virtual room. Horizon Workrooms is a mixed reality experience that lets users bring their desk, computer and keyboard into VR.
The technologies in these Workrooms include features such as, ‘mixed-reality desk and keyboard tracking, hand tracking, remote desktop streaming, video conferencing integration, spatial audio, and the new Oculus Avatars’ (Meta 2021b). In addition, Workrooms allow users to create their own avatars to represent themselves through the virtual reality ‘Oculus Avatars and spatial audio technology’. Workrooms also provide a virtual whiteboard with infinite space to sketch and plan work in real time.
Is the Metaverse a Good Idea for Businesses?
Meta have provided the foundation for remote work through Horizon Workrooms. Businesses are looking for opportunities to tap into the Metaverse, and harness this technology to grow their brands. The Metaverse has the potential to transform the ways companies reach and interact with their audience in the most engaging ways through mixed realities.
Various companies have already invested in the Metaverse and are predicting success, not only from the entertainment aspect of it, but also from the business and professional elements. Aware of the opportunities for business, many renowned brands have already entered the Metaverse. This includes Gucci, Nike and Disney (Clergue n.d.).
Some business opportunities that the Metaverse has already, and is predicted to create are:
- Virtual Promotion – As virtual advertising in the Metaverse has recently been developed, the costs remain relatively low. This provides businesses with the opportunity to market their brand on the platform worldwide, increasing audience reach. Also, as there are not many businesses in the Metaverse, your brand will achieve increased visibility.
- Connecting with Audiences – The highly interactive nature of the Metaverse allows businesses to connect with and establish long-term relationships with their target market. In addition, the Metaverse is currently made up of a younger demographic. However, for marketers to stay relevant and keep up with the trends, they must ‘remember the value of Gen Z and millennials’ (Buyer, 2021).
- Increased Engagement – The immersive and interactive experiences in the Metaverse increases engagement with audiences. This ranges from virtual events, interviews, games, and much more.
- Increased Sales – The exchange of virtual assets and possessions is on the rise in the Metaverse through NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Like the expansion of online shopping and eCommerce, assets and items sold in the Metaverse are due to have similar success.
Are There SEO Benefits of the Metaverse?
In terms of search strategy, it has been predicted that the Metaverse could be beneficial to SEO through the use of AR. This is due to AR using online data to evolve and so could help to create a more engaged audience (Grant, 2021)
Let’s look into the ways AR and the Metaverse in general might impact SEO across the next few years:
- Content Strategy and Marketing – Through the immersive, 3D and virtual nature of the Metaverse, businesses are able to use content marketing to promote their brand and services in a more engaging fashion. This may involve the use of a virtual tour and 3D, immersive experiences.
- Social Media Marketing – While the internet is evolving from a 2D Web, towards a 3D Web, so is social media. This will be used in favour of Social Media Marketing, which will provide more immersive online experiences for target markets.
- Local SEO – Google can help to create a 3D experience, which can appear in your local listings.
- Visual Search – Products like clothing, will be transformed by 3D technologies and AR, which will allow users to visualise clothing in real-time. Also, this includes the creation of ‘visual wearable and tradeable digital garments’, rather than a mere image of a garment (First Rank SEO Services, 2022).
If this sounds good for your business, then some ways you can begin to get involved in the Metaverse are as follows:
- Attend events using VR, for instance Facebook Horizon.
- Experiment with and create content with AR.
- Work with other clients and businesses who are involved in the Metaverse. This way you can gain some insight.
- Set up Google Alerts to stay up to date on the latest Metaverse news and developments.
In conclusion, the Metaverse offers several opportunities and advantages for businesses. I have summarised these advantages below:
- The creation of your own virtual location, office or shop.
- Provides users with the platform to be innovative and experimental through immersive experiences.
- The transformation of your virtual goods into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital assets.
- It increases your brand awareness to a wide, online audience, which could generate customer loyalty.
- The monetisation of lots of data.
- Inclusive for all types of different businesses, ranging from eCommerce businesses to B2B businesses.
The Metaverse will continue to grow over the next decade. As well as this, VR and AR are on the rise. Therefore, it is important to tap into the benefits that your business could gain from the Metaverse. Meta are transforming work as we know it, and if you tap into the Metaverse, your business could become more engaging and present in this digital realm.
This blog post has explored the benefits for your business which could arise from the Metaverse. We conclude that the future of the Metaverse is bright. It is clear that the Metaverse is evolving the methods of work and professional life through virtual connectedness and collaboration. This has made it possible for businesses to create their own virtual communities in the Metaverse. In addition, AR is predicted to benefit SEO, by creating a more visual, real-time and 3D search. Realising the advantages of the Metaverse could unlock the virtual and innovative side of your business, resulting in a wide-reaching and connected target market.
Awosika, E. (2022) ‘Why Should Businesses Care About The Metaverse?’, Business Tech Guides. Available at: https://businesstechguides.co/importance-of-metaverse-for-businesses#heading-what-is-the-metaverse (Accessed: 16 June 2022).
Buyer, L. (2021) ‘Marketing in the Metaverse: The Future of Search & Social’, SEJ. Available at: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/marketing-in-the-metaverse/416813/ (16 June 2022).
Census. (2021) ‘Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking, UK: April to May 2021’, Office for National Statistics. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/businessandindividualattitudestowardsthefutureofhomeworkinguk/apriltomay2021(Accessed: 16 June 2022).
Clergue, V. (n.d.) ‘Business opportunities: Is the Metaverse the right way to go?’, EHL Insights. Available at: https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/business-opportunities-is-metaverse-the-way-to-go (Accessed: 16 June 2022).
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Grant, E. (2021) ‘The Metaverse in 2032… How the AR Revolution will Change Life as we Know it, and What it Means for SEO’, figment agency. Available at: https://www.figmentagency.com/technology/the-metaverse-in-2032-how-the-ar-revolution-will-change-life-as-we-know-it-and-what-it-means-for-seo/ (16 June 2022).
Jack, S. (2020) ‘No plan for a return to the office for millions of staff’, BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53901310 (16 June 2022).
Meta. (2021a) Introducing Meta: A Social Technology Company. Available at: https://about.fb.com/news/2021/10/facebook-company-is-now-meta/ (Accessed: 16 June 2022).
Meta. (2021b) Introducing Horizon Workrooms: Remote Collaboration Reimagined. Available at: https://about.fb.com/news/2021/08/introducing-horizon-workrooms-remote-collaboration-reimagined/(Accessed: 16 June 2022).
Sherman, N. (2020) ‘Zoom sees sales boom amid pandemic’, BBC News, 2 June. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52884782 (Accessed: 16 June 2022).
Zickgraf, R. (2021) ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s “Metaverse” Is a Dystopian Nightmare’, Jacobin. Available at: https://jacobin.com/2021/09/facebook-zuckerberg-metaverse-stephenson-big-tech (Accessed: 16 June 2022).