The Metaverse and Business: Cathy Hackl and the 2022 Social Media Marketing Keynote
It’s a Metaverse future, and we’re all living in it.
On Wednesday morning, Social Media Marketing World attendees were treated to an inside look into the “Metaverse” through the eyes of speaker Cathy Hackl; tech futurist and a leading voice on the emerging world of what the Metaverse is and how to leverage it.
Hackl began by sharing a quick history lesson in how the internet has developed over time: beginning with “Web1” (static, basic web pages), “Web2” (a more interactive, social-driven web experience), and now “Web3”; this iteration being an evolution where people and assets can connect between worlds (both online and offline). This evolution is only natural, as part of our increasing trend of expanding and exploring throughout the 21st Century.
The “Metaverse” currently has no agreed-upon definition, but can be described as a successor state to the mobile internet. The Metaverse is a group of shared experiences, shared between both physical and digital worlds. Hackl noted that the Metaverse is not currently one product, nor is it owned and operated by one company. Engaging through the Metaverse is possible through any of the following ways:
- Augmented/Virtual Reality experiences, enabled through a mobile device (smartphones, VR headsets, etc)
- Gaming (a “perfect on-ramp” into the Metaverse, according to Hackl)
- 5G and Wifi-6
- Blockchain initiatives and NFTs
- Artificial Intelligence
- Cloud and Edge Computing
While intrinsically linked, it is important to note that both Web3 and the Metaverse are NOT the same thing. While Web3 is about how people, places and things are connected, the Metaverse serves as the “connection point” for this.
Once the public understands what the Metaverse is, Hackl then proceeded to share how the Metaverse impacts society, businesses, and commerce. Unlocking creativity “like we’ve never seen before”, the Metaverse will allow creators to share in the value of their creations, will allow the world to become more machine-readable, and will foster a greater sense of community and authenticity (something Hackl claims will be the “heart” of both the Metaverse and Web3). On the commerce-side of things, the Metaverse will currently enhance (if not create from scratch) physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical transactions, creating new opportunities for both eCommerce brands and physical products.
With business, the Metaverse will attract new and younger customers, establish new and emerging revenue streams, and will allow for experimentation and a new world of customer pathways and points of purchase. With this new world of innovation, Metaverse users will be able to connect with each other in brand new ways, allow for greater expression and exploration of identity, and the ability to experience new environments altogether.
According to research presented to the attendees by Hackl, the value of the Metaverse is set to explode. Based on Bloomberg research, the projected worth of the Metaverse market will be around $800 billion by 2024, with Goldman Sachs projecting an $8 trillion worth. New jobs will be created, new revenue streams will be available for businesses, new commerce models will be available for sales; the Metaverse is now seen as the “Holy Grail” for seamless blending of both physical and virtual worlds.
The future, according to Hackl, is experiences: not ads.
The “Age of Extraction” in social media platforms is coming to an end, and marketers and platforms need to pivot to this new experience-based environment in order to engage with users. Such examples shared during the keynote included Ralph Lauren creating virtual clothing lines in platforms like Roblox, and makeup giant Clinique creating NFTs to show both utility and community among users. In addition to these examples, Hackl also shared example use-cases, including holoportation using VR and AR, new virtual office spaces, job opportunities completely within a virtual world, and historical preservation opportunities.
Hackl ended the keynote by reiterating her central “heart” of what she believes the Metaverse can (and should) be: a world built and maintained where both community and authenticity are king.