Who’s Influencing the Metaverse?
In 2022, the influencer marketing industry will be worth an estimated $16.4 billion, an increase from $6 billion in 2020. At the same time, blockchain games and metaverse projects raised $534 million in October and November 2022 alone. As a result, the two worlds collide as influencers and brands explore new revenue creation and collaboration avenues.
Before social media, people trusted radio, TV, and printed media for product suggestions. However, as times and customer preferences changed, marketeers realized that using a famous face to establish a product might have a powerful impact.
While adverts are still considered a powerful marketing tool, the buzz created by influencer marketing is arguably unparalleled. For example, according to the Global Web Index, 40% of internet users use ad-blockers, meaning almost half never see the adverts marketers deploy.
Moreover, working with influencers offers an excellent solution for marketers because customers discover things through content on a platform where they enjoy spending time, more importantly, through a person or brand they already trust.
With the metaverse, times change again and present marketers with new opportunities. The metaverse is not a single virtual world made by one company; it’s all together: Virtual worlds, digital environments, and decentralized services.
By allowing people to interact in immersive, three-dimensional virtual worlds, the metaverse offers an alternative to real life. And while it’s undoubtedly unknown and evolving, it’s impossible to ignore its potential to disrupt the world of influencer marketing.
Same, but different
Collaborations between brands and influencers usually involve sponsored posts, feed takeovers, and gifting. However, these strategies are only partly effective because they do not guarantee audience engagement.
In the metaverse, influencers can collaborate with brands to create fully immersive 3D experiences complimenting the product. Moreover, the metaverse will not only reshape brand-influencer collaborations, but it will also create a new kind of influencer.
Virtual influencers are computer-generated avatars that look like humans with their own set of values. While brands like Calvin Klein and Samsung have partnered with existing digital influencers, others debuted their virtual representatives. Influencers like Lil Miquela, a digital avatar with three million Instagram followers, have been around since 2016.
While there are noticeable contrasts between real and virtual influencers, people interact similarly. Most people following Jay Z, Harry Styles, or Kylie Jenner have never met them. Any relationship between the creator and the audience is digital, and audiences interact indirectly via a content stream.
Using fictional characters on social media delivers a massive opportunity for brands to experiment and deliver experiences not before possible. Importantly, it also permits total control over the creative output from conception to delivery. At the same time, a new breed of influencers grows online, ready to work with marketers, focusing on the metaverse.
A metaverse influencer could be loosely defined as someone who talks about non-fungible tokens and has a considerable following on leading social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok.
A play on the name of world-famous street artist Banksy, Pranksy is a well-known NFT investor and influencer with the most extensive pool of digital collectibles on the Ethereum blockchain. Interestingly, Pranksy started his journey with an investment of $600 and is now one of the world’s most successful digital artists, NFT traders, and influencers.
Murat Pak, known as Pak, is a digital artist, programmer, and investor who introduced an internet Bot known as Archillect with 2.9 million followers. It is fundamentally a mood board that shares posts and images. Notably, Pak shows how a bot can become the influencer while the artist operates more subtly in the background.
Legendary rap star Snoop Dogg is an artist and influencer who lent his face and voice to brands like JustEat and now fully embraces the metaverse and the opportunities it can offer. With nearly 80 million Instagram followers, the rap legend released an NFT collection and builds the Snoopverse land plot in the Sandbox, which is only accessible to early-access NFT holders.
The metaverse and NFT’s influence, value, and interest from marketers snowball as household names experiment in expectation of a shift in human behavior.
Brands already experimenting
Nike obtained RTFKT Studios, a digital fashion brand with a powerful presence in the NFT community. RTFKT had already launched various wearables, including NFTs for leading metaverse Decentraland, and sold NFTs redeemable for real-world items. As a result, Nike gained access to a digital fashion brand and, importantly, the metaverse-ready CloneX avatars. The most expensive changed hands for over $1.25 million earlier this year.
Another leading sports brand jumping into the metaverse is Adidas. They acquired land in the Sandbox and launched an NFT collection in collaboration with Punks Comics, Gmoney, and Bored Ape Yacht Club. This NFT release instantly attracted attention as it appealed to various online communities.
Legendary fashion house Louis Vuitton showed it was maintaining relevance when it released Louis The Game, a puzzle adventure in which players could collect NFTs, marking the company’s first steps into the metaverse. Moreover, it’s not only colossal fashion brands getting involved.
Foul-mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay also revealed that he’d take his Hell’s Kitchen venture into The Sandbox. At the same time, Atari, which also made early moves into virtual worlds like Decentraland and the Sandbox, will bring their iconic gaming brand inside the metaverse.
People will only spend more time in metaverse environments if there are things to do, and global behavior appears to be on the verge of change. Gen Z is gaining increasing significance, entering the workforce, earning income, and are tomorrow’s new consumers and influencers. They like to spend time online, and as digital natives, it is expected that Web3 will become their home.
Countless real-world experiences transitioned online as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. As a result, people craved human interaction, and Zoom calls evolved into the new Friday night. Habits were permanently formed, and some now prefer to continue their everyday activities in the metaverse.
Poker is one of the most loved online games and has its influencers. For example, Dan Bilzerian is an American poker player, bitcoin holder, businessman, and social media influencer often lauded as the King of Instagram. He rose to fame during the mid-2010s while documenting his lavish lifestyle and has over 32 million Instagram followers.
Influencers like Dan Bilzerian can try their hand in metaverse poker lounges like Ice Poker, a poker game in the Decentraland virtual world, proposing a blend of online and in-person gameplay. Developed by Decentral Games, Ice Poker is free to play once you own an NFT, while entrusting NFTs to other participants can gain a share of winnings.
Games are just one vertical, and Decentraland holds hundreds of community events yearly. Including a recent metaverse fashion event, organized by RLTY, the Fabricant, and the World of Women with a primary objective to draw women and fashion into the metaverse.
If people spend more time in metaverse environments, their preferences will change. Influencer marketing is just one strategy by which brands can target audiences within the metaverse. However, given its predicted growth trajectory, the metaverse represents a clear opportunity for brands and influencers to capitalize on consumer trends and explore new mediums.