Is your brand ready for the metaverse? you care?

CC Social Media & Marketing Manager Luke Edwards breaks down Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, and its $10bn bet on a virtual ‘metaverse’.

At the end of October, Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta. While its individual platforms will all be keeping their names, the parent company which oversees Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook has been rebranded. The new name is intended to represent a leap ‘beyond’ (the meaning of the word in Greek), into the next generation of the internet and social media: the metaverse.

The announcement came in a 70-minute keynote presentation which featured Mark Zuckerberg having cringe-inducing scripted conversations with other Facebook - sorry, Meta - executives. For some reason, they all inexplicably waved their hands around while talking to each other and, yes, Mark Zuckerberg had a bottle of barbeque sauce on a shelf behind him. That’s how humans decorate, right?

But let’s be serious for a moment. It is perhaps too easy to target Facebook in 2021, as the company has received widespread criticism for the way it has handled misinformation, political extremism and the impact of its platforms on mental health. If we were being cynical, we could also say it seemed mildly suspicious that the announcement came just three weeks after Facebook suffered another major PR disaster. Whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked documents which reportedly demonstrate the company turning a blind eye to the issues mentioned above, and prioritising profit over its customers’ welfare.

Looking past all this, what exactly has Meta proposed? The company has placed a $10bn bet on the metaverse - an interconnected virtual space which can be accessed in a number of ways. You can immerse yourself in it completely using a VR headset, view it in AR with a pair of AR glasses, or just view it through a device with a screen as you would now. It is intended to be a place where you can socialise with friends, collaborate with colleagues, play games and more.

They also showed off developments in tech which would make an embodied virtual space more appealing and accessible than it currently is. These included a device that could read hand gestures to render writing in the air as text, and more photorealistic avatars than can convey facial expressions.

It should be said that, at the moment, much of this is just speculation. A lot of developments in VR and AR tech are needed before they could be widespread enough to make the metaverse more than a playground for the wealthy and tech-literate. But if it does catch on, it has the potential to open up new channels of advertising. Think about branded non-fungible tokens that go in your virtual home, or sponsoring events such as virtual gigs. How could your brand exist in the metaverse, and how could people interact with it? Companies which get ahead of the curve and find answers to these questions could reap massive rewards.

So - what do you think? Is the metaverse just another White Whale, another overhyped tech trend that won’t materialise? Or is it the future of how we interact with each other on social media and the internet?