Why Facebook’s drastic shift toward the metaverse matters to direct selling.
That’s Facebook’s new name. While it might take a while for it to stick in the minds of the platform’s nearly 3 billion users, there is a massive online shift happening, and the world’s largest social media platform aims to be far ahead of the curve. Meta, as a prefix, means “transformation” or “occurring in succession.” Facebook’s name change signals the company’s focus on the coming evolution of the internet: The metaverse.
So, what is the metaverse exactly? Think of it as the internet powered by virtual reality and augmented reality. “If the contemporary internet experience is two-dimensional—meaning you browse and scroll through it on a screen—the metaverse is 3D. You’ll be ‘walking’ through it via connected headsets or glasses,” explains an article by Quartz.com.
No one owns the metaverse, just like no one owns the internet, but Meta aims to create the world’s largest and most robust metaverse platform. It might sound like something out of Ready Player One or The Matrix, but the focus is on providing a virtual, interactive platform that connects people and allows them to create. The evolution to come will have major implications for the direct selling industry that relies so much on social platforms for networking, growing business and creating culture.
“We basically think of the metaverse as the successor of the mobile internet, in the sense that the mobile internet didn’t completely replace everything that came before it,” Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a press briefing. “It’s not that the metaverse is going to completely replace something that comes before it. But it’s the next platform. In that sense, it’s not a thing that a company builds. It is a broader platform that I think we’re all going to contribute towards building in a way that is open and interoperable.”
Evolutions in technology have launched entire industries and created revolutionary creative and economic opportunities. Meta’s shift to existing in the metaverse deserves the direct selling industry’s attention, as it certainly could change the way people interact online; buy and sell products through e-commerce platforms; as well as how they shape their online persona.
The Metaverse is Already Here
Trying to understand the metaverse is akin to trying to understand the internet in the early 1990s. It’s not meant to replace the internet, and the augmented reality aspect connects the physical and the virtual. We’re already seeing several examples of these ideas, and they are changing the way people behave from entertainment to business.
Whether it’s an Ariana Grande concert in the video game Fortnight; BMW announcing its new car in the game Rocket League; or the rise in augmented reality mobile games such as Pokémon GO and Roblox, physical and virtual worlds are connecting across many industries. But you don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to understand how these technologies and digital experiences could impact the direct selling industry. Let’s look at some of the key features for Meta’s plans that could impact the industry to most.
Quest Headset / First, many metaverse features will require Meta’s virtual reality headset. The current iteration, the Oculus Quest, will give way to the Meta Quest, planning to drop in 2022. The Facebook Portal video device will be rebranded “Meta Portal” in early 2022. Still, many of the most robust metaverse features likely won’t launch for a few years.
Horizon Home / This essentially will be a user’s hub in the metaverse. It’s where you begin your experience, similar to your computer’s desktop. You will be able to invite people to watch movies, play games, listen to music or just hang out with each other’s virtual avatars.
Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms / These features allow users to build virtual environments, throw virtual parties, hold virtual office meetings or just go exploring. Businesses can construct their own virtual office and interact with employees or co-workers. “The metaverse also could be a game-changer for the work-from-home shift amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of seeing co-workers on a video call grid, employees could see them virtually,” explained an Associated Press article.
Zuckerberg said the company is developing the ability for people to login with a business account separate from a personal account. Horizon Workrooms already exists in correlation with the Oculus VR headsets. “I’m genuinely optimistic about work in the metaverse. We know from the last couple years that a lot of people can effectively work from anywhere,” Zuckerberg said in a video announcement. “But hybrid is going to be a lot more complex—when some people are together and others are still remote. So, giving everyone the tools to be present no matter where they are, whether it’s a hologram sitting next to you in a physical meeting or in a discussion taking place in the metaverse, that’s going to be a game-changer.”
Direct Selling in the Metaverse
Imagine hosting virtual opportunity presentations complete with slides or videos in a digital atmosphere you create that’s in line with your brand and message. Distributors may be able to host product demonstrations, recipe examples or lead workouts in a virtual world. Conventions in the future may have virtual components. Virtual fashion shows can show off new distributor swag, putting spectators right by a runway. Awards and forms of recognition or rank advancement can exist virtually for distributors to display. A pin or ring in the physical world may exist as a custom avatar in the metaverse.
From a corporate standpoint, virtual office meetings can help reduce the need for commuting to work, which can help reduce stress and save people time. Participants may be able to watch the same presentation, or a product demonstration, and can seamlessly interact with others in the meeting. Of course, you’ll be able to do this from nearly anywhere, which connects with one of the direct selling industry’s most enticing benefits of running your own business on your own time. The terms “solopreneur,” “freedompreneur” or “mobilepreneur” could have new meanings. As an example, eXp Realty already uses its eXp World for virtual reality meeting rooms, networking opportunities and trainings, complete with avatars.
Zuckerberg also teased a metaverse marketplace where people can buy digital art, clothes and perhaps even virtual real estate. Of course, this opens new possibilities for the application of crypto currencies or other forms of non-traditional currencies. People may be able to sell their own forms of digital products and experiences directly to others. This also should grab the attention of the direct selling industry, especially since it’s built on developing and leveraging individual relationships. Distributors may be able to send customers a virtual gift or invite them to a virtual seminar.
Doing business in a virtual world may be difficult to wrap your head around right now, but this evolution seems inevitable. How quickly people will adapt to connecting in a virtual metaverse will determine how businesses pivot to capitalize on the shift in attention and behavior.
From the January 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.