In 2020, Epic Games and Travis Scott held a surreal virtual concert in “Fortnite.” It wasn’t the first time the video game developer had turned “Fortnite” into a virtual venue, but this show shattered its previous records by attracting more than 12.3 million people. One journalist called it “the beginning of a totally new type of media experience.”
Epic Games’ virtual concerts might have changed the future of digital events, but the game developer is aiming for more. That’s why it previously debuted Party Royale, a small in-game island where players can socialize and hang out at an outdoor theater, dance club, soccer field, and pirate ship, among others. It’s a stark departure from the rest of “Fortnite,” but Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says it represents the future.
Social Media, Gaming, and the Metaverse
Many of today’s most prominent names in tech believe that the metaverse — an immersive, three-dimensional digital community — is the next evolution of the internet. If you’ve seen the film “Ready Player One,” then you know what they’re talking about. Instead of interacting with the digital world through two-dimensional apps and experiences, you’re able to throw on virtual reality gear and explore just as you would in the real world.
One side effect of the metaverse is that it will deeply intertwine social media and gaming. The future of social media will help you live out digital experiences. You won’t need to scroll through people’s feeds alone because you can be exactly where they are at a moment’s notice. Engagement will shift from likes and comments to shared experiences and human connections.
You’re likely already seeing this shift play out in real time. The pandemic forced people to quarantine and practice physical distancing, which normalized digital experiences like Zoom meetings, Teleparty viewings, virtual concerts, and video games in general. These new social outlets have quickly transformed how people live their lives. Even when it’s safe to socialize in person, you’ll probably see a lot of individuals still enjoying digital experiences with friends and family throughout the world.
Preparing for the Evolution of Social Media
The combined future of social media and gaming presents a valuable opportunity to step up your company’s social media accounts. To capitalize on digital interactions and prepare for the metaverse, follow these three strategies:
1. Encourage people to embrace their digital identities.
The virtual world is a place of imagination, and there are plenty of people who would love to get in on the fun and discover your business via digital adventures. Encourage individuals to embrace their digital identities when interacting with your company on a personal level. For example, you can host competitions on TikTok to see who can create the most unique video with your product — or you could create branded items that avatars can wear (like Ralph Lauren did with Snapchat’s Bitmoji).
2. Create an informal digital community.
Lots of companies completely miss the mark with social media, using their accounts strictly for corporate communication. The problem is that your audience wants to engage on a personal level — not listen to a talking head. No matter what platforms you rely on, use your social media channels to foster friendship and community. For inspiration, check out Netflix’s and Starbucks’ authentic digital communities.
3. Keep the content flowing.
If your company is going to take advantage of opportunities in the digital world, you have to meet fans and followers where they are. Games like “Fortnite” have become an inextricable part of pop culture, so streaming clips of your employees playing similar video games can boost your engagement levels. Participate in virtual events and tap into current conversations and media trends.
The future of social media won’t be a Facebook wall or Instagram feed. Instead, it will be a metaverse that promotes digital communities through rewarding and engaging interactions. This will also be the future of gaming, with virtual reality universes becoming popular and accessible to the average consumer. As these spaces come together, you should prepare for your company’s media presence to evolve.
Austin Smith is the co-founder and CEO of Mission Control, a platform for gathering and growing community using recreational esports. Austin is an economist and entrepreneur who focuses on urban policy, social entrepreneurship, and esports/sports technology.