When you stop to think about just how big of a role social media plays in our lives, you realise in the space of a couple of decades the world has gone from playing about with ‘this new internet thing’ to over 2.34 billion of us actively using social networks (73% of whom are on Facebook). It’s hard to predict exactly what we’ll be using in 20 or even 10 (or even 5) years time.
Earlier this year, Facebook CEO/Founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the OC3 Keynote and gave a demo insight into the new ‘Social VR’ software his team has been working on. So, let’s take a look:
In the demo, Zuckerberg interacted with colleagues Lucy and Michael, demonstrating how users can interact with their friends in a virtual environment. Using VR technology, they could play chess, draw swords in mid-air and wield them, watch videos together and visit virtually any location you can think of; from Zuckerberg’s house to the planet Mars. At the end of the demo, Zuckerberg used a virtual selfie stick to snap a photo of his wife Priscilla (who was on live reality/VR video call) and him and uploaded it to Facebook.
While this technology is certainly impressive, whether people will adopt to use it over the website/app experience they know and love is debatable. Virtual reality is still relatively new technology to the general public. Companies such as Sony, Samsung and HTC are all producing and marketing VR headsets, making the virtual become more and more familiar to us. But is it enough to encourage enough people to adopt this new way of interacting with each other?
So, if more people do start adopting this platform how will it affect the world of digital marketing?
Marketing has changed in big ways over the past couple of decades. Digital channels have proven themselves an excellent alternative to (or even addition to) physical media. Almost everything is trackable online, allowing businesses to analyse their visitor’s behaviour and buying habits. Businesses have had to adapt to this new online approach by either training their existing staff, or outsourcing.
If the future of social media really is virtual, then marketers and businesses are going to have to adapt once again. Marketing in a virtual world will present challenges, but could also present huge opportunities for early adopters, just like when Google first launched its AdWords platform and you could pick up clicks for a fraction of the price they cost today.
As well as mastering search and display advertising, marketers will have a plethora of new data and targeting options to work with for virtual advertising. We, humans, communicate so much through our non-verbal language that machines are sure to pick up on this and our other habits to build a picture of the person, ready for businesses to target them for advertising. While this technology seems very far off, just remember how foreign the internet seemed just 25 years ago.
So, what do you think? Is Facebook/Oculus’s Social VR platform the next big step in social media?
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