The rapid emergence of the metaverse is prompting many to venture into new virtual frontiers. In response to the rising formation of various virtual universes, social media platforms must prepare for this future by implementing unique strategies that not only optimise but also improve users’ experiences as they explore the infinite lands of cyberspace—especially given the rising incorporation of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) as well as adapting for the decentralised environment being brought about by the future Web3.
These novel technologies are becoming more ubiquitous and will ensure the continuity of various social media platforms as they create heightened levels of virtual immersion for users. Simultaneously, introducing such immersive technologies can help to bridge social gaps where users can seamlessly insert themselves into multiple online communities, all within a safe and supportive environment.
Empowering new forms of creators
Alternative forms of identity are increasingly becoming a theme within the virtual world. Creators can literally put on a new “face” online via virtual avatars that merge sensory technologies and artificial intelligence (AI). While social media platforms can enable users to incorporate virtual avatars in activities such as profile picture settings, the use of avatars has particularly gained traction on livestreaming platforms.
The real-time nature of livestreaming makes the movement and representation of virtual avatars all the more exciting. Streamers have the option to express an instantaneous version of themselves while maintaining the privacy of their real-life identities and challenging the imagination of stream viewers.
For instance, legendary Swedish band Abba induced waves of nostalgia in viewers’ hearts as their virtual concert leveraged computer vision, AI and VR to feature the members as de-aged avatars performing classic moves from their prime. This concert was a monumental event because it showed that virtual avatars could encourage high levels of engagement and can also be a solution for creators to launch streams even if they currently have limitations, physically or otherwise. Moreover, by embedding virtual avatar technologies into their own systems, livestream platforms can also streamline the avatar personalisation process where creators can directly tweak and customise their avatars on the streaming platform itself without using any third-party software.
Maximising safety in virtual worlds
While the possibilities of various virtual identities expand, debates about online security still run rampant as the internet sees its fair share of data hacking and other unfavourable attributes in recent times. However, as social media platforms adopt and innovate more transformative technologies, they can turn our virtual world into a safer utopia.
Beyond ‘unfollow’ or ‘block’ buttons, these platforms can form more proactive measures that prevent any forms of online harassment from occurring in the first place. For instance, social media giants like Meta have announced plans to launch a personal boundary tool that enables users in the metaverse to create a “virtual safe zone” around themselves by activating a bubble around their avatars whenever they feel threatened.
From a livestream industry perspective, since the real-time nature of content requires more quick-acting security measures, the modern tools mentioned above can serve as inspiration for expeditious content moderation. For instance, by integrating AI into centralised content management systems, platforms can initiate rapid automatic checks and filters of livestream content. These checks can be vital in removing inappropriate or disturbing content and keeping communities safe in their virtual environments.
Creating sustainable communities online
As social media platforms keep the spirit of community alive in the virtual world, modern technologies can enable social media platforms to give users a stronger sense of belonging. Users need not go through their virtual journeys alone. More app features in the market are evolving to introduce collaboration-based features that, for example, can transform a basic group chat into a well-functioning community channel.
Within livestreaming platforms, community building has always been a priority as the platforms are a direct communication medium between streamers and viewers. However, to enhance the essence of community even more, modern technologies that combine AI and community-detection algorithms can be leveraged to bring users closer together.
Livestream platforms can go beyond just displaying preferred content on users’ feeds. They can automatically gather real-time insights on user behaviours while recommending relevant streams—helping to seamlessly establish engaged online communities that can last in the long run.
Technology will continue to revolutionise social media platforms for decades to come alongside rapidly developing user needs. These platforms are, hence, primed to optimise these innovations to ensure their longevity and user retention. Livestreaming in particular has come a long way in technology where the industry had made previously impossible events a reality today.
Ying Feng is VP of Bigo.