A How-to Guide to Enabling Influencer Marketing Strategy in the Metaverse
A year ago, if you asked someone walking down the street if they had heard of the Metaverse, they would probably have said no. Google search trends show a fairly low level of interest in the metaverse throughout 2021, until a large and very obvious spike towards the end of last year. Now that’s all everyone talks about. Love it or hate it is a buzzword that has been introduced into mainstream society – no doubt in part a result of Facebook’s rebranding in October last year.
Apparently, the metaverse could be an $800 billion industry by 2024 – so where does influencer marketing fit in? Influencers and creators hold the power to connect with consumers that brands can leverage, and the metaverse presents the whole new opportunity to do so.
No one has mastered the space yet, but with an open mind, here are three ways to enable influencer marketing strategy within the metaverse.
The Metaverse Looks Complicated, But Don’t Complicate It Too Much
When social media became a “thing”, we went through the same frenzy: new technology and a new way to connect people and brands. Likes, comments, pages, profiles, tweets, creation of groups… widespread panic. Now we have NFTs, crypto-whatsits, blockchains and everything else… it sounds complicated. Widespread panic, again.
When new technologies emerge, we simply need to see them as a new space to apply existing principles.
In the world of influencer marketing, simply put, an influencer does something on behalf of a brand to affect a consumer’s purchase intent or respect. Until now, influencers could physically show up at an event, or they could appear via social media content. Now they also have the ability to connect with consumers in a metaverse environment.
However, remember that we have been exposed to some form of metaverse for quite some time now. Online games like Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty, and Fortnite allow people to connect virtually to some degree. Blockchain has simply allowed games and online worlds to become more open and accessible to everyone, including brands.
The metaverse is really exciting, but no one knows exactly how to use it yet. That’s the beauty of it: opening up even more opportunities for people and brands to connect. This may seem overwhelming, but it’s important not to overcomplicate it.
Determine if you are using the metaverse for activation or for distribution
Before they unknowingly get swept away on a roller coaster of hype with no way to slow down, brands need to ask themselves the question; why are they trying to use the metaverse? Are they trying to create an experience or an activation in the metaverse they will need to educate people about using other channels? Or are they using the metaverse to promote activation from another channel in their ecosystem? Or both?
Influencers can be successfully used for both in the metaverse. Brands could decide to use influencers more familiar with virtual worlds to co-create a virtual experience in something like Decentraland, which could then be promoted through the influencer’s more traditional Instagram and YouTube channels. Or, they can choose to have influencers wear virtual clothes on their avatar to promote a new line the brand is launching in the real world.
Both are very valid options – brands just need to make sure their goal is clear before diving straight in. Places in the metaverse can become another part of a brand’s ecosystem, much like social media did a few years ago.
Just because virtual influencers are new and exciting doesn’t mean your idea is automatically a good one.
Right now, we’re seeing a dizzying craze around virtual influencers — they’re new, fictional, and unknown. Brands are hoping that by working with them now, before the boom, they will generate some conversation. Probably a true story. But beyond the conversation, virtual influencers are still “influencers”.
These are personalities that brands can authentically associate with to drive respect or purchase intent. Whether creating their content by programming a CGI or capturing it using a smartphone in real life, the way to approach their use is the same as with physical influencers.
We’ve been dealing with computer-generated influencers for decades – Woody definitely made me crave a pair of cowboy boots in my youth. We just see some that are much more realistic now. And of course, fictional characters are nothing new… just watch your favorite comedian.
If brands choose to work with a virtual influencer, whether their business takes place in the metaverse or on their more traditional social media channels, they should remember that the strategic and creative process surrounding the partnership deserves the same attention as any other influencer. . Just because they’re virtual doesn’t mean all the ideas that use them will be good.
There is no set formula for the metaverse yet. It’s about testing and learning. Don’t complicate it too much, think about activation versus distribution, and remember that at the end of the day, virtual influencers are still influencers. Brands need to be brave, try new things, and scale quickly. This is how they will win.