With a market size projected to reach $510 billion by 2028, the metaverse is getting major attention from influential brands. If you’d like more insight into how you can market your company in the metaverse, we’ve compiled a list of the strategies being used by notable brands to drive revenue growth in this new frontier.
- What is the metaverse?
- Metaverse marketing strategy 1: Gaming
- Metaverse marketing strategy 2: Brand avatar experiences
- Metaverse marketing strategy 3: Virtual influencers
- Metaverse marketing strategy 4: Interactive live events
- Metaverse marketing strategy 5: Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- The (meta)world is your oyster
The metaverse is where the physical and virtual worlds collide. The term “metaverse” first appeared in the 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash.” Author Neal Stephenson used it to describe a virtual, three-dimensional space where programmable avatars interact with one another. Despite seeming like a futuristic fever dream, Stephenson’s depiction was prescient: Within 30 years of its naming, the metaverse is now synonymous with the future of the internet.
Think of the metaverse as a shared cyberspace with its own economy and rules of social behavior. People enter the metaverse using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR): AR enhances real-world perception with computer-generated information, and VR uses computer-generated input to immerse users in the virtual world.
According to strategist Matthew Ball, metaverses are self-contained worlds that exist in real time. They use a mix of platforms, encourage individual agency, and allow user-generated content (UGC). The evolution of these interlinked virtual communities has enacted a sea change for marketers seeking to reach new audiences.
Giant gaming metaverses like those offered by “Fortnite” allow you to increase brand awareness in a way that feels organic, authentic, and entertaining.
The marketing team for fast food chain Wendy’s, for example, found a creative way to reach the 24 million daily users who play “Fortnite.” In the video game’s Food Fight mode, players on Team Burger and Team Pizza battle each other by eliminating team members. Using its branded channel, Wendy’s entered the fight alongside Team Pizza with a mission to destroy all burger freezers from “Fortnite.” As tens of thousands of gamers joined in to bash freezers, the fast food company’s core messaging became clear to the video game’s massive fan base: Wendy’s beef is fresh, never frozen.
Some brands use virtual gaming worlds to parallel their real-life marketing strategies. For example, food delivery company Deliveroo participated in the online video game “Animal Crossing” by simulating its real-life services. In the game, Deliveroo dispatched virtual riders to make deliveries throughout the island. Players received their virtual food as well as a surprise promo code for real-life food orders. Within an hour after launch, Deliveroo’s in-game engagement jumped by more than 3 million user interactions.
Working metaverse games into your marketing strategy encourages your target audience to interact directly with your brand and learn exactly what you offer and value.
Imagine that you could pick out the body you use to interact with the world around you. The metaverse makes this a reality. A user’s avatar—the digital identity used to engage with other players in the virtual world—is highly customizable. Some companies have capitalized on this by creating exclusive experiences for avatars.
More than 2 million avatars have been created on the Genies app, and users spend up to 75 seconds interacting with branded design wheels. Cheetos created a customized design wheel that allowed users to pick out orange clothing to personalize their avatars. The snack brand’s Halloween promotion was eaten up by Genies users.
Another example of a successful brand partnership with Genies comes from the fashion giant Gucci. In the Genies virtual world, users could see their avatar dancing in front of a wall of Gucci logos with the words “Feelin’ Gucci.” The company then pivoted its metaverse popularity to sell digital versions of its luxury clothing items on “Roblox.” To some, the idea of purchasing goods that can’t be physically touched may seem bizarre; however, this marketing strategy is all part of Gucci’s plan to target the Gen Z audience and drive revenue growth.
Just as in the real world, people want to express their unique identities in the metaverse. Your brand can tap into this desire for self-expression by creating its own avatar universe.
Influencer marketing dominates platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Given its incredible power, the strategy’s move into the virtual world was inevitable.
However, influencers in the metaverse have taken on new meaning. Instead of being real people, metaverse influencers are digital avatars. Some of these avatars—even ones with no real-world counterpart, such as Lil Miquela—have achieved celebrity status.
Instagram’s biggest celebrity personalities, such as Jennifer Lopez (208 million followers), Katy Perry (161 million followers), Cardi B (131 million followers), and Snoop Dogg (73.4 million followers), have stamped their digital footprints in the metaverse. Influencer marketing platform Keepface allows brands to access metaverse influencers through its Metafluence subsidiary. Here you can find influencers with smaller platforms, such as Aguselo Halim (268,000 followers), Crypto Ben (40,000 followers), and Abilbek Narembayev (4,450 followers).
Brands that have successfully used virtual influencers include fashion company Hugo Boss, which hired Nobody Sausage to promote its branded hashtag #BeYourOwnBoss. (The influencer’s initial Instagram post has more than 30,000 likes.) Entertainment giant Disney plans to use the mass appeal of Minnie Mouse to promote its upcoming augmented reality theme park.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how you can use this strategy to promote your brand, Virtual Humans provides a full database of influencers. The site splits avatars into different categories including “media darlings,” “animalistic,” “2D,” “humanitarian,” “musicians,” and “most popular.” Each influencer profile includes their Instagram bio, how they identify, their online debut, and where they’re from. It also gives links to brand websites and social media profiles.
Familiarize yourself with the way that brands similar to yours have used virtual influencers, and figure out the best marketing strategy for you. Remember, you can use the same influencer marketing strategies in the metaverse that you use on social media. Just make sure to find—or create—a virtual influencer that authentically represents your brand.
The metaverse is all about encouraging new avenues for human connectivity. Performances, tournaments, and other events that take place in the metaverse (known as Massive Interactive Live Events, or MILEs) bring people together in real time—if only virtually.
Singer The Weeknd used a digital avatar to perform on TikTok after the pandemic caused in-person concert cancellations. His virtual concert generated more than 2 million views. Gorillaz and Post Malone performed via avatar in virtual venues, and Dua Lipa attended a runway show as her avatar. In April 2020, rapper Travis Scott drew in an audience of nearly 30 million viewers to his “Fortnite” MILE. Some artists even co-perform with their metaverse avatars during real-world shows.
From Burning Man to TwitchCon, many events that used to be solely in person are now held as hybrid MILE events. Apple’s 2019 iPhone debut, for example, drew 1,000 in-person attendees and nearly 2 million virtual ones. Although sponsoring an entire MILE might feel daunting if you are still learning metaverse marketing, you can always start small by helping put on a virtual conference that’s relevant to your brand, or by placing a metaverse ad in a less-attended, more accessible interactive live event.
A non-fungible token is a unit of data, usually a photo, video, or audio. “Non-fungible” means it is unique; there is nothing else like it. Like all cryptocurrencies, NFTs are stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, from which tokens can be sold and traded. Since the blockchain contains a finite number of NFTs, their value increases or decreases based on demand.
Blockchain technology company Yuga Labs became a household name when its Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs became the market’s hottest blockchain commodity. For an example of a more layman-friendly NFT marketing strategy, consider luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton. The company used a simpler NFT marketing strategy to create a game where avatars collect clothing and fashion accessories to win NTFs. Since consumers love prizes, the game was a great success, with more than 2 million downloads.
NFT metaverse marketing allows you to promote your brand and NFT assets simultaneously. The more hype your brand gets, the more valuable your NFTs will become; and the more valuable your NFTs are, the more people will be aware of your brand.
While these five marketing strategies are a great place to start, the metaverse is only just beginning. From placing virtual billboards on digital properties to offering services only available in the metaverse, you have many options to promote your brand. Experiment with new marketing strategies until you find the one that works best for you—in this world and in the metaverse.