The Metaverse is a topic we have touched on at almost every political communication and digital advocacy workshop in recent months. In this article we look at the opportunities the Metaverse opens up for the political communications industry.
The metaverse is an immersive virtual reality version of the internet where people can interact with digital objects and digital representations of themselves and others, and can move more or less freely from one virtual environment to another.
Joel S. Elson, Austin C. Doctor, Sam Hunter – University of Nebraska OmahaThere are many definitions of the metaverse. For some, the metaverse is already present in games like Roblox and Fortnite. For others, the future of the metaverse is in projects like Sandbox or Decentraland. Then there are those who believe that the true metaverse is yet to come.
The metaverse is the moment in time where our digital life is worth more to us than our physical life.
One thing is certain. The Metaverse is not just a passing trend. Anyone who closely follows the development of crypto projects, NFTs and the several investments by tech giants in the metaverse knows that our future will be heavily influenced by the meta industry.
The metaverse is best understood as the shift of computing and interaction from a device in your pocket into a virtual simulation.
Matthew Ball, Managing Partner of EpyllionCoThe closest we can get to metaverse today are platforms like Decentraland, The Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space and Upland. It’s not be a surprise that so far, the biggest market for metaverse projects is the gaming industry. However, this is just the beginning – the metaverse is expected to reach everyone, not only gamers.Some major brands have been experimenting with the metaverse for a while now using celebrity personalities in places like Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite.
There is no doubt that the metaverse is coming. The question to ask is whether we are ready? Is the technology we have developed good enough? The biggest benefit of the metaverse will be the ability to simultaneously participate in a live rendering simulation, for example a meeting or an event. And this is something we are certainly not ready for in terms of technology. However, this should not discourage us. We can expect a process that will be based primarily on the gradual development of a community (or many communities) of citizens who want to be part of the meta-world.
The world of political campaigning and digital advocacy must take interest in the development of the virtual reality of the future. Soon more and more users and businesses will begin the process of populating the metaverse. This means new opportunities to grow the community of supporters. The metaverse, like any new platform in the first few years, gives those who join first the opportunity to take a leadership position. In the world of politics it could be leadership of political narratives built around technological change and innovation. This is an incredible opportunity for politicians who are still establishing their position and who count on the support of young voters.
Open an MP’s office!
Imagine opening an office in the metaverse. You reserve a piece of land, you build, you furnish the space to your liking. You set up meeting times when your constituents can come and talk to you “in person”. You then arrange a series of activities within that space. These might be virtual rooms where you learn about the details of some campaigns or problems you are trying to solve. They can be regular meetings, discussion clubs. The amazing thing about the metaverse is that there are no restrictions on space, ideas. Anything that can be coded is possible. An ocean of possibilities.
Political campaigning in metaverse
The golden rule of every marketer is to look for new spaces to reach the target audience. The aim should be to place our advertising message wherever our recipients are, preferably where it is not yet crowded. In the coming years, such a place will certainly be the metaverse. The users are already there. Of course, for the moment in smaller numbers than on Facebook or Tiktok, for example. But what’s important is that the users whom our advertisement will reach in the metaverse are often trendsetters, people who will tell their friends and networks about what they discover in the meta reality.There is another important aspect that every political marketer who tries to promote their messages on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube is well aware of. Advertising political communication on social media is incredibly difficult today. The number and level of complexity of the restrictions is overwhelming. Meanwhile, the metaverse is a new world, that for a long time to come will have more important things on its mind than vetting advertising messages for important political issues.
NFTs as a fundraising vehicle
While considering metaverse we must bring up NFTs which will serve as a form of certificates of ownership in the metaverse. NFT tokens provide incredible opportunities for organisations looking to bring people together and build strategies for engaged fundraising. NFT tokens themselves are merely works of art with a digitally defined and irreversibly encoded ownership attribute. It is this attribute of ownership that creates incredible opportunities to build engaging fundraising campaigns. The purchase of a particular NFT can unlock access to benefits that go beyond the artwork to which that NFT is assigned. Tokens can be a pass to an exclusive membership club, a key to log in to websites, to closed communities. They can be entry tickets to closed meetings. The most important value of NFTs is that they simplify, in an unprecedented way, the issue of ownership and the technology needed to verify benefits.
Influencing the real world from the metaverse
How will events and life in metaverse translate in to the real world? For instance, political scandals and controversial events which take place in the metaverse will resonate in the real world media. Therefore, whoever is able to manage the narrative in a skilful way stands to benefit considerably.
And soon, new ideologies will have to form
Metaverse, challenges associated with its development, user expectations – this all equals politics around the development of the metaverse. There will be many issues to regulate such as ownership and privacy. Human rights will have to find their equivalent in avatar rights. No kidding. These are the issues that future generations of politicians will be dealing with. Unless things move faster. In such a case, it is time to start campaigning.