The metaverse is opening up a new world for B2B content. Here’s what you need to know
Can you name a big brand that does not have an internet presence? What about social media accounts? And will you be able to name any big brand in five years’ time that does not have a home in the metaverse?
More and more businesses are getting into this new virtual world. Disney, Gucci, Manchester City and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are already there, and with many others heading in that direction, it’s probably just a matter of time before business-to-business companies have to head there too.
But how will B2B work in the next iteration of the internet?
More interactive content
Harnessing the metaverse’s extra dimension will be key to effective content. Just as online copy can do things print can’t – moving images, embedded videos, hyperlinks, SEO – metaverse content could allow us not just to get our heads around something, but to get our (virtual) hands on it.
The main route to this is likely to be enhanced visual and audio elements, as well as catering to senses that 2D websites can’t. Instead of pictures and videos, content might offer a portal to an immersive experience. Don’t just look at images of our product, pick it up and have a go. Don’t just watch a video tour of our facilities, come and look around.
Brands are already rushing into the metaverse. Source: JP Morgan/The Sandbox
All of this points to metaverse content being more user-led – instead of a linear journey down a page, clients could dive into products and services that interest them. An example of just how cutting-edge metaverse content is set to be comes from retailer Sephora, which launched a fragrance using augmented reality filters to suggest certain smells.
Engaging with a product will always help a potential buyer better understand it, but PwC research on the use of virtual reality (VR) in training environments shows that users also feel twice as emotionally connected to virtual content than traditional e-content.
Virtual conferences and trade shows
Metaverse conferences are already happening. Event platform NewSky XR has hosted 11 B2B events with over 10,000 visitors. When delegates don’t have to travel, audience size can increase significantly.
The metaverse could also add interactive dimensions to virtual events. Any product has the potential to be recreated in the metaverse. Home appliance brand Dyson has launched VR product demos, with advanced algorithms allowing users to feel changing airflows on hairdryers and hoovers.
One step beyond 3D product simulations are digital twins – virtual replicas of real-life places. Digital twins can help businesses predict performance and risk, and with planning KPIs. BMW has built a digital twin of one of its factories, an approach that showcases its capabilities to potential clients and that other brands could try.
All of this means the metaverse looks set to produce not only new types of data but also far more detailed data. Avatars at virtual shows offer insights unavailable from a live conference, such as who visited a booth, how long they stayed and where else they went.
The metaverse could also produce metrics we can’t even conceive of yet, just as the idea of click-throughs, dwell time and bounce rate were unimaginable when we were all reading print publications. This could help companies better understand the people they want to become their clients.
Facebook parent company Meta is developing virtual meeting spaces with its Horizon Workrooms. People quickly adapted to Zoom when COVID-19 struck, and full VR meetings could offer a better experience for group discussions, allowing everyone to interact more like in real life.
Microsoft is also updating its Teams platform to create metaverse meeting rooms. B2B content could prompt potential clients to sign up for a virtual coffee, rather than simply asking them to join a mailing list or request a callback.
Meaning of the metaverse
Businesses need to be where customers are. If your customers are flocking to the metaverse, you need to be there to meet them. The young and the techy are more likely to be entering it now, but 84% of people see themselves eventually working in the metaverse, according to a survey by Microsoft.
However, the metaverse itself – like all nascent technologies – is not without challenges at this early stage. There may be multi-trillion-dollar estimates of metaverse market value, but those estimates are exactly that – estimates.
Some may question whether the metaverse goes much further than being a glorified form of VR. Cynics might even suggest it’s just a way of tech companies generating demand for VR equipment to make up for declining smartphone sales.
What is certain is that nothing has been extensively tried and tested in the metaverse, other than perhaps gaming. People are still building the environment and figuring out what might work.
Every business is different, and the only way any company can know whether any investment is right for them is by building awareness. The Harvard Business Review suggests that companies create a metaverse champion to keep staff up to date with developments in the space. Sooner or later it will become clear what the metaverse means for your business.
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About the author: Gay Flashman is the CEO and founder of Formative Content. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.
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