Is the metaverse an escape for social media companies?

You took a great selfie and want to post it on social media. Where do you post? Everywhere? In a place? The major social networks have come to resemble each other so much that we can really only say that LinkedIn is different. Meanwhile, metaverses are also being built: is that a way out for social media companies?

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Now that Instagram stops with its square photos, a lot of people are angry. Not so many people always post a square photo exactly symmetrical to the nearest centimeter. It’s the people who think they can’t tell the difference between Instagram and TikTok anymore. Those people have a point. Just about everything you can do on TikTok can be found on Instagram in some form. Instagram is not the only company that copies so much. Twitter can also use it, with its Fleets (which no longer exist) and its Spaces (because Clubhouse was such a success).

Social media itself hasn’t come up with fresh new ideas very often lately. Stagnation is regression, which means that a medium has to keep presenting new possibilities. Seeing other companies chip in big for something you can pretty easily also offer ensures that the choice is made quickly for a copy. In short, of course: in the end, social networks do not always have everything to say about their content.

The boss of the metaverse

Meta has already emphasized a few times that he doesn’t want to be ‘the boss’ over the metaverse he builds, but should belong to everyone. However, the question is why he likes to emphasize this so much. Is it because she has learned from Facebook that you shouldn’t want to be the biggest, because tall trees catch a lot of wind? CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been accused of not playing by the rules on numerous occasions. Now that more and more rules are being imposed on social networks from countless different countries, it may be that Facebook thinks that’s why: to do something completely different, because there are not many rules about it yet.

In addition, the metaverse offers new creative possibilities for social networks. After all, it makes a difference whether you’re watching a live stream on Facebook through your smartphone screen or almost standing in someone’s room with your VR goggles on your nose. The way we approach content is changing so much that it could certainly be a breath of fresh air for social networks, which are often more than a decade old. However, you must then make sure that you do not fall into the same traps as before. For example, a medium should not only look at its users, but also what it can mean as a brand in the metaverse. Shouldn’t they have more responsibilities to make the metaverse a safe place? Are we warming up exactly as we did in the Web2.0 phase?

Who determines the interface?

Also, social media companies need to take a step back when it comes to interface. They used to have full control over this and some of it still is, but in the metaverse it’s best if the world a company creates fits into the universe that already exists. Social networks will have to take more into account how their offer looks with VR glasses. It should be about a pleasant user experience, not about features that the social network itself wants to push. In other words, it wouldn’t be useful if it became just another vehicle to push ads, it should be the other way around. It needs to become a platform that people like to be on, because then ads will be added automatically and hopefully gradually. In fact, in an ideal world this is not necessary, because users add marks automatically.

The metaverse can be a great opportunity for social media to have an impact, even more than it already has. For this, however, you will have to come up with a good interface, but also courage and patience. They would do well not to want to be the driver in the metaverse, but rather to hand over the rudder to the user. The only question is if that is also the reason why a company like Meta is speaking out about how it doesn’t want to dominate that very universe. Is it a way of taking less responsibility (and therefore absorbing less blow), or is it really the idea described above?

The metaverse for the general public

We may never get an answer to this. After all, the metaverse is a multitude of worlds, and what’s perfectly normal and appropriate in one world may be far less applicable in another. The metaverses that people now find themselves in are mostly based on games (Roblox) or cryptocurrencies (Decentraland, Sandbox). As a result, the metaverse is still not very accessible to the general public, while ultimately Meta, for example, wants to become just that.

He invests so much money in it that he clearly wants to be one of the biggest, but at the same time he doesn’t necessarily seem to want to take responsibility, under the guise of ‘everyone’s metaverse’. That’s exactly what has sometimes gone wrong on social media platforms, so it’s perhaps not so obvious to the general public to enter that metaverse. And that is precisely why it is so important that social networks move to the metaverse in a user-centric way, so that the experience is the best it can be. It’s about time social media companies show how creative they really are.

Laura Jenny

When he’s not writing, he’s traveling through the wonderful world of entertainment or somewhere interesting in the real world. Mario is the man of his life, …

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