Well, we’ve been telling our clients for years that the future of Social is virtual reality. It has been a mainstay in Facebook’s 10-year road map which they mentioned back in 2015.
The actuality of Virtual social pages has become more of reality recently... you see the world is kind of in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and more people are staying at home and having there social contact limited. Sure friends and families connect via mediums such as zoom or even do drivebys in some really restricted areas. A new term I’ve been hearing recently is “Zoom fatigue” which is a new saying amongst professionals and workers who are spending hours upon hours on their screens.
There’s also become a feeling amongst people of spatial presence - the feeling of “being there”. In a virtual space, this problem can be resolved as virtually we can unlock doors to social experiences and give people the one to one one to 20 sense of belonging they are craving, in cases or border closures as we’ve experienced in Australia. This can bring fulfilment in a world that has been changed and is keeping us apart.
Since COVID became serious our hours on social media have increased. In Australia, we’re now spending an additional 1-2 hours per day glued to our screens. Social VR has also seen an increase in users as well. Apps like Rec Room, BigScreen, VRChat and AltSpace have all seen an increase in traffic. As I write this Facebook has made a HUGE announcement; the launch of the public beta for it’s social VR experience, Horizon.
"I believe the next phase of social media is being present," says early beta Horizon content creator and social media and social VR consultant, Navah Berg. "Imagine a place where a brand can invite their brand ambassadors to try out a product without hopping on an aeroplane? A place a brand can launch a press release without writing a press release but actually being there and sharing the news with a community of journalists in a get together in social VR. There are so many opportunities for brands and content creators. I can't wait to see what happens next."
Navah has been on the frontline in the social VR landscape and has been someone we at Think Tank Business Services have been following and watching for a while as we look at the developments happening in Social VR. Social Media is built on relationships and sharing content and stories - VR takes it to a next-level experience.
Ok so let’s take a look at the Horizon - see what I did there :).
As I write this there are heaps of screenshots of Horizon it’s also what prompted me to write this blog as I am captivated and excited as to where this is going, seriously I am like a pig in mud hearing all the news. Facebook dropped the gameplay trailer after months of anticipation. The trailer which you can see above shows users building their own worlds and having fun with friends.
For those of you that don’t know Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014 and as I mentioned above then announced VR to be fully integrated as part of the social experience back in 2015. For Mark Z and the crew, VR isn’t just an addition to the social juggernaut, they see it as the next computing platform what will “help people feel more present with each other, even when we are apart” - whether at work or at play.
So Let’s Meet In Social VR
As COVID continues to affect our way of life social VR apps like Horizon can give people a safe place to gather, play and create as they may have in real life. Social VR offers every kind of interaction in one place.
For those of you, that know our business, and I will know one of the earliest people I started following not long after I started the business was Eric Qualman who famously says “We don't have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it?” and he talks about social media being one of the biggest changes to humanity since the industrial revolution as it is a “shift in the way we communicate”
Facebook Horizon may shift what social media actually means. Instead of scrolling through newsfeeds, Horizon offers a different type of social interaction. The added features of gameplay and world-building also offer a unique “bolt-on” to the way we interact in this social space and certainly fosters a new kind of creation.
VR & Marketing
So what does this have to do with marketing…..well everything really.
Brands can take marketing to a new level never experienced by becoming part of a users world, relating to your target audience isn’t just through ads, a brand or business basically goes back to basics of brick and mortar but in bits and bytes. Users can interact with the business in a very natural way. Facebook is already working on this by using staff as “guides or hosts” in public spaces. Facebook may be in the process of single handily changing the customer service experience from submitting a request to virtually walking up to a Facebook employee and asking them a question.
Time To Play
One of the features of Horizon is being able to play games like mini-golf, go to escape rooms, paintball, or challenge a friend on a virtual battleground with a hybrid sword. Facebook wants it to be collaborative and interactive. This gives opportunistic brands a massive chance to get in on the action. Who wouldn’t want to win Dominos cup where the winner gets free pizza.
Building Virtual Worlds
Part of the core makeup of Horizon is building Virtual worlds, I’m like a kid in a candy store when I think of all the possibilities this would bring for brands. Businesses could build there own virtual world for users to explore, maybe do a treasure hunt where users can find discounts or free offers. Did you watch the Spielberg movie Ready Player One? One of the contests in the movie was where you could rule and be King or Queen for a day.
Imagine creating a virtual world for your brand where users can use your products or services imagine creating a new revenue stream which is certainly a possibility as users use your items to craft and create there own virtual space. Then come back to the real world and make them part of everyday life. Go with the brand you know, like and trust, right!
Also, why shoot a commercial in real life when you can take your top fans and use them in an ad that can be broadcast across Horizon and then into Facebook, perhaps the commercial could be live-streamed and across all Facebooks apps...OMG My mind is blown as my head is full of the potential of possibilities this creates.
I heard a new phrase recently called “the metaverse” at first I thought it was part of a Marvel or DC storyline but in fact, it is “the convergence of both physical and virtual worlds”. For any business to survive they need to learn to adapt or as we say in pandemic time “pivot”. Businesses that have the ability to understand the technology and use it to their advantage will win this and will keep making them present and relevant. So buckle up folks the future is coming and I wouldn’t let this train pass you by as it is a VERY BIG DEAL.
Blog by Jason Armstrong