As marketers, we are constantly trying to innovate the various spaces our brands occupy to ensure maximum audience engagement and retention. A new renaissance period is emerging in technology and branding: Web3. As you seek out opportunities to stand out from competing ecommerce brands, diving into new technology like the Metaverse is crucial to brand success.
Let’s start with the fundamentals: what are Web3 and the Metaverse? The current internet as we know it is known as Web2 in the developer world. The advent of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized avenues to create and build digital assets where the creator has control of the community is called Web3. Though you may hear “Metaverse” and immediately think of Facebook because of their recent brand audit, there’s far more this sphere encapsulates. The metaverse is a digital reality that combines aspects of social media, online gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and cryptocurrencies to allow users to interact virtually. Augmented reality overlays visual elements, sound, and other sensory input onto real-world settings to enhance the user experience.
Over the course of the last 9 months, there has been a huge pivot by brands to be a part of these emerging worlds and to find their footing within them. This can be attributed to the overall amount of monetary success and growth of the creator economy through AR, VR, and NFTs.
Brands like Nike and Redbull entering the metaverse and NFT community can be examined as a blueprint for brands exploring how to get involved in Web3. Tech-savvy brands like these seek out creators within the space to capitalize on pre-existing community and notoriety. The NFT community especially places heavy emphasis on authenticity, as NFTs are generally unique, non-interchangeable digital files and media. This shift also highlights the importance of a brand’s authentic story and the experiences of individual creators.
A perfect example of how brands are embracing this shift to the metaverse is Nike’s partnership with virtual shoe brand RTFKT, “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.”
The ever-evolving world of Web3 means the possibilities are truly endless to what can be created by brands and markets moving into the future. This means that how we engage consumers within this space is going to have to be a different approach than what was previously taken on Web 2, today’s internet. It is less about what the community can do for you versus what you can do for the community as a brand trying to enter the NFT space. The community of NFTs and the Metaverse overall is built on a foundation of digital creators, which aligns with the overall growth of the creator economy in general.
Brands looking to enter the space and build their own communities should first seek out projects and communities that are already active within the space but align with company values, brand story, and digital creators. This allows you to enter the community giving support through collaboration versus trying to navigate your way through the space blindly. As marketers, we understand the power of storytelling better than most and in the world of Web3, and it’s something we need to be even more acutely aware of. Just as today’s community-driven brands use user-generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing to engage consumers, marketers in the metaverse must approach new ventures with a community focus.
Leading with collaboration does not mean that brands and companies cannot decide to go in on their own into this land of decentralization. Brands like Pepsi and Budweiser opted to do drops centered around their product offering without collaborations on current projects – and still saw great traction. Both brands had very well-curated stories around their drops that tied back to their product offerings and ensured their sites for purchasing the collectables were smooth and clear for onboarding any NFT newbies.
As we continue into 2022, we can only expect greater innovation and expansion to take place within the Web3 community and, by extension, the Metaverse. As the number of users for NFT marketplaces increases, brands will desire to be a part of the conversation and disruption of what was the internet. For example, Coinbase boasts 43 million users and plans to release its own NFT marketplace within the coming year. This does not mean as marketers we need to rush to throw our proverbial hat into the ring, but rather assess how to strategically bring our brands into this digital renaissance in a way that authentically suits our brands.