The metaverse is the next phase of the internet, built for 3D experiences that will be accessible across screens and offer a deeper sense of social presence. It’s “the operating system of our future,” as described by the author and pioneering theorist Matthew Ball, and while the full promise of the immersive metaverse experience is still years away, there are strategic moves companies can make today to prepare.
The first step is ramping up collaboration with a growing wave of content creators—or, more simply, creators. Their appeal is obvious: They help brands become part of a cultural conversation; they utilize the latest technology to help brands get their stories across in fresh, new ways; and, most importantly, creators know how to connect with their followers in authentic ways that are hard to replicate.
Creators are as varied as the audiences they attract. Some are personality or point of view driven; others are more-technical, next-gen creators with job titles like XR creator. There are also hybrid creators who blend their unique perspectives with technical prowess (think: Metaverse architect or Metaverse GTM advisors).
No matter the job description, their core skillset is the same—they build inclusively. This is especially important as we know consumers want experiences that authentically resonate with a wide variety of audiences—both for the internet of today and of tomorrow. In fact, in a global survey of 11,000 adults by Meta Foresight, 61% of early adopters say they're more inclined to support brands that collaborate with diverse creators.
If you haven’t yet tapped into the growing creator economy, here’s how to get started:
Choose a diverse slate of creators. Audiences develop relationships with creators because they authentically speak to and create for their varied experiences. When a brand partners with creators, they're leveraging that emotional response, making a credible and natural link between their company and the creator's audience. To make the most out of the partnership, lean into your objective and partner with someone from the outset that will help you more deeply connect with new communities.
For example, when Mastercard wanted to build a virtual world in honor of Pride Month, they turned the reins over to creators @SKitter_ and @RhondaX to build the True Self World, an open, immersive and persistent virtual space to provide the LGTBQ+ community and allies somewhere to reflect, connect and celebrate. It's a beautiful example of how people can create inclusive communities in a way that may not be possible in the physical world.
Foster a co-creation model. Instead of thinking of creators as the icing on the cake, put them at the center of the experience and loop them into the strategy from day one. The driving force behind creators is a strong sense of purpose, which naturally leads them to be committed to inclusive representation, design and experiences. Work collaboratively with them and seek to become a part of this culture—driving measurable business impact in the process. As a metaverse architect put it: "I stopped working for my clients. Now I tell them, 'I'm going to work with you—as a partner.'"
Test and learn together. Creators are experimenters and experts in their mediums, whether developing immersive tech experiences or determining how to best communicate with their fans. At the same time, marketers and advertisers know their brands’ values and beliefs better than anyone. Combining these two areas of expertise sparks powerful opportunities for exploration.
In a recent panel on the creator economy, artist, creator and creative director Pablo Rochat perfectly framed how brand/creator partnerships should work: "Imagine I'm having a dinner party with all my followers. A brand could knock on the door, say 'Hi,' and then leave. Or, if they want, they can hang out with my audience and develop a deeper relationship with them—that's what works best."
The metaverse will have the power to bridge the divides that exist in today’s physical and digital spaces. It’s an audacious goal, but one that is surprisingly easy to set in motion. Start now by tapping into the power of creators—they’re one of the best ways to grow your business today and while creating a more equitable, realistic and authentic metaverse of tomorrow.
Nada Stirratt is the VP Meta’s Americas Global Business Group.