VIRTUAL REALITY: THE INESCAPEABLE FUTURE OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIENCE?

Visualize a social experience limited only by the capacity of your imagination. Black Mirror-esque science fiction? Or, the inevitable next development in events, marketing and human interaction in the online world. Take a look at the world of VR and how you can expect to see it coming to a platform near you soon!

Visualize a social experience limited only by the capacity of your imagination. Black Mirror-esque science fiction? Or, the inevitable next development in events, marketing and human interaction in the online world.

When I think of virtual reality, my brain is flooded with thoughts of movies and TV series detailing the imminent destruction of human connection. My mind wanders through post-apocalyptic images that mirror Hollywood endings of a somewhat dramatic, if not predictable scene, of a tech-driven, eventual end-of-the-world.

The reality is however (virtual or not), that VR is a fast growing industry marketed as the opposite of the dramatised Hollywood interpretation. The popularity of Clubhouse, the flavour of 2021, having such success with social audio, is a huge indication of the public desire for a more “real” social media experience. You can find out more about Clubhouse here.

VR takes a giant leap forward from simply social audio. It offers social media users an experience driven, real-time connection wherein they are entirely immersed in the content.  Couple this with a deepened need for human interaction post-covid, and it is easy to see how VR could be the next big development for an era defined by social media.

Let’s Imagine The Imagined Of VR

Picture yourself sitting at home on your couch. Comfortable, relaxed but honestly? A little on the bored side. What do you feel like doing? Perhaps after a long day at work you give in to your shameful urges, switch on the TV and catch up on Netflix’s very own sex rehab reality show “Too Hot Too Handle”.

No judgement, I’m on Episode 4. 

Now picture that same situation. But instead, imagine you could do anything you liked, with whoever you liked. No longer restricted by the confines of space and time. You put on a VR headset and suddenly, you can go skydiving anywhere in the world, or attend the live event of your favourite musician, comedian or the red carpet event for that movie you’ve been dying to watch. You could escape from the 9-5 grind, temper tantrums and housework in a world designed entirely by you, in your own personal relaxation hide-away. 

This is the potential for social VR; it already exists, and it’s deep in development.

Let’s Look At The Nerdy Side Of VR

According to Statista the VR market revenue is expected to reach $12.9 billion by 2024. 

There was of course a drop in 2020, but that is likely to be a result of the pandemic. This seems like a fair amount. You and I are both unlikely to turn down a cool 12.9 bill.

But when you compare it to Facebook’s 2020 revenue of $85.965B (GoBankingRates) it seems that in the near future at least, perhaps we aren’t all about to swap reality for simulation.

And yet…

Let’s Talk About The Tech Side Of VR

Recently there has been a large increase in use of current Social VR platforms.       

Platforms like Altspace (acquired by Microsoft), a Virtual Reality live events platform that allows you to create your own Avatar, build your own room and host anything from gigs to business networking events to live movie streaming in a cinema, have continued to enjoy huge growth as time goes by.

Similar to Microsoft, Facebook themselves have invested huge amounts of money into VR. They are acquiring VR technology with a determination to match the owner of Mayfair and Park Lane in a Sunday night game of monopoly, impatiently waiting to roll their way to their 3rd Hotel purchase in a row.

Horizon Is On The Horizon

Most notably in Facebook’s VR extravaganza is their beta launch of the Social VR platform Horizon. Although still invite-only in it’s Beta test, Horizon’s tagline cites it as “a social experience where you can explore, play and create in extraordinary ways. In Horizon, you’re not just a visitor. You’re part of what makes it great”.

A brief read of Horizon’s website makes it abundantly clear that the plans are big for this platform. It mentions hosting live events, playing games, forming communities and perhaps most interestingly; the ability to build your own worlds.

This insinuates to me at least, that Horizon, backed by the influence Facebook gives it, could redefine user generated content creation to make it entirely immersive, personalised and in the words of a world-famous, albeit fictional chocolate distributor, a world of pure imagination. 

How VR Will Affect Your Digital Marketing

Any person who owns a business, or works in marketing, should be excited by the prospect of utilizing VR in their marketing campaigns. Many companies are already employing the use of VR and AR (Augmented reality) to sell products and services, and the results speak for themselves.

Several Eyeglass companies use VR to allow you to try on glasses , Make-up companies are allowing you to try different shades and athletic-wear giants Nike have even jumped on board, using VR to market their shoes. Allowing consumers to “try before they buy” without having to leave the newsfeed in which they first saw the advertisement is obviously something the convenience-driven modern day consumer would love.

As For The Future of Virtual Reality

Currently, accessing fully immersive VR worlds comes with an expensive price tag. The eye equipment needed to do so isn’t cheap, and it’s difficult to imagine it blowing up as a mainstream norm until it becomes financially viable and the tech is developed to full capacity. It also comes with a whole host of questions and red tape around privacy and ethics, which is likely to delay it’s development even further.

That being said, imagine being able to hold a launch party for a product with no venue cost, geographical or logistical restriction and, in a venue designed perfectly to match your brand image. Imagine creating games or competitions in which your customers compete to win discount codes and product prizes. Imagine directors, musicians or entertainers streaming their movies or showcasing their performances with ultimate accessibility. Imagine literally being able to fly. 

Truth be told, the heavy capital investment from big tech companies, the pandemic driven need for human connection and business opportunities that present themselves in a world where VR dominates social media are endless. 

Is it likely to happen in the near future?

Probably not.

But is it coming?

Well, I guess the reality is, it’s virtually already here. 

How would you use VR to promote your business? Let us know in the comments!

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