The Metaverse is the new Buzz Word in the Digital world. What began as a blip on the digital radar screen is now starting to amass more attention- and it’s growing every day.
Facebook recently changed its name to META (that’s our first clue that this is going to be big stuff.) And putting their money where their mouth is, Facebook (FB) has allegedly invested a whopping $10 Billion dollars in Metaverse Research. I don’t know about you, but that tells me that this could be BIG. Big for Consumers and Big for Businesses. Facebook certainly thinks so.
Apparel giant Nike must agree- they’ve claimed their own piece of this new digital frontier, Nikeland. Teaming up with Roblox, a leading mobile gaming platform, Nike is preparing to stake its claim in the Metaverse. They’ve also purchased a virtual shoe company that makes NFTs and sneakers for the Metaverse, and are pairing the virtual shoes with their real counterpart to drive future sales.
But before you roll your eyes, thinking the Metaverse sounds too sci-fi for real life and real business application- stay with me.
Savvy law firm owners understand the importance of staying on top of digital marketing developments. If you want to dominate your market, and reach more prospects, you must be
*Continually scanning the horizon,
*Looking for new opportunities, and
*Posturing your law firm to stay ahead of the curve and your competitors.
At the heart of effective law firm marketing in 2022 is this simple concept:
You must take your law firm’s message to your ideal prospects, meeting them where they are and anticipating where they are going.
If the Metaverse is the wave of the near future, progressive law firm owners need to be ready.
So, let’s start with the basics:
What is the METAVERSE?
- Basically, the Metaverse is any digital experience on the internet that is “persistent, immersive, 3D, and virtual.” It’s not happening in the physical world, although it is an interactive operation occurring in real time.
(Harvard Business Review, How Brands Can Enter the Metaverse, Balik, Janet, 1/3/2022; www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2022/01/how-brands-can-enter-the-metaverse ).
The term “Metaverse” originates from Neal Stephen’s 1992 Sci- Fi novel, Snow Crash, in which characters use avatars to interact with one another. (When I think of Avatars, I can’t help but think of the extremely large blue avatar creatures romping through the rain forest in the 2009 Disney classic, Avatar.) But its 2022 and what was once sci-fi is fast becoming non-fiction.
LIVING, PLAYING, INTERACTING and ENGAGING IN A VIRTUAL SPACE
Conceptually, the Metaverse is intended as an all-encompassing and interactive virtual world, that allows people (including potential customers and consumers) to live, play, learn, engage, and interact with others using personal avatars in a virtual space.
It’s where real life and virtual life intersect.
And if FB is correct, then it is going to be BIG business in the coming years.
But, for clarity, FB doesn’t “own “the Metaverse. While FB is actively creating its Metaverse world, platforms like Decentraland also provide access to the Metaverse. Even the fine art brokerage firm, Sotheby’s has claimed its space in Decentraland for a virtual curated art gallery- and many other companies are following suit.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “The Metaverse is potentially the next iteration of how humans use the internet to connect, communicate and transact.” (Id).
When you think about it, the Metaverse experience is a natural progression – a logical extension of the 2D Internet experience that has become an integral part of our current lives.
- 2D- Internet – What we use now- with searchable content, browsers, and “flat”, 2-Dimensional internet interaction. It encompasses all our primary Internet user experiences and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linked-In, Tik-Tok- Zoom, etc.
- 3D- Internet: The new Internet experience that is the future- It’s a virtual web experience that supports Interaction in 3-Dimensional way- Think Virtual Reality- VR Headsets, and users interacting as individual digital avatars . The Metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds.
Can you remember when we didn’t keep our mobile phones with us? When we didn’t use Google Maps or Waze to get from point A to point B? When we didn’t keep up with friends and family on FB or peers via Linked In?
Social engagement and mobile phone use has skyrocketed in the last 10 years; It’s a trend that continues to rise ever upward. So, who’s to say that FB has it wrong in anticipating this new frontier?
Even Microsoft is getting in on the action envisioning Metaverse applications in the office environment; They’re currently positioning their cloud services to be the fabric of this new Metaverse and creating a Mesh platform to accommodate avatars working in collaborative immersive team spaces. (Id.)
METAVERSE ONLINE EXPERIENCES: VR (Virtual Reality)
AR (Augmented Reality)
IV (Interactive Video)
While you may be thinking this whole concept is just too far fetched or futuristic to consider, just remember who your ideal clients are and will be in the next 5-10 years. Most Baby Boomers and Gen X’s might not be very excited about strapping on an Oculus Quest 2 headset and hand controls, in order to experience this new sensory laden virtual Metaverse. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be highly appealing to Millennials, and Gen Zs, many of whom are already accustomed to using this gear to play video games that allow them to create personalized avatars and become immersed in virtual worlds. This segment of your market is likely to gravitate to interactive internet experiences in the virtual realm.
Imagine the possibilities that the Metaverse may provide for creative law firms who are prepared to engage with prospective clients in this new grand platform. That’s exactly what the New Jersey Personal Injury firm, Grungo Colarulo is doing. They have plans for opening the first PI firm in the Metaverse. According to attorney Richard Grungo, Jr:
“Many believe the Metaverse is game changing, with potential akin to social media for law firms, revolutionizing the way clients interact with lawyers and law firms.”
(Fortune: The Metaverse gets its 1st PI Lawyer, Morris, Chris, 12/13/2021)
Grungo’s firm has already staked their claim in the Metaverse: Parcel-36, 150 in Decentraland, and they plan to create a virtual office that offers potential client’s educational content such as info on injuries and employment discrimination. (Id.)
PILMMA’s (Personal Injury Marketing and Management Association) founder, attorney Ken Hardison, is so intrigued by the marketing possibilities the Metaverse may hold for law firm owners, that he’s booked Grungo for an upcoming episode on his podcast: Grow Your Law Firm. If you want to hear Ken and Grungo dive deeper into the Metaverse applications for law firm marketing, then make sure you check out this exciting podcast.
How quickly you, as a law firm owner, move into the Metaverse depends on your target demographic.
Remember the old saying: “The early bird gets the worm.” Gen Z’s were born between 1997 and 2021. Many have been driving for 10 years or more- they are getting into motor vehicle accidents and more will obtain their drivers licenses in the next few years. They are also performing internet searches for older family members. They are an important demographic for most personal injury firms.
Millennials are under 40 and grew up playing PlayStation and X-box. This demographic is also a prime audience to embrace the interactive virtual Metaverse experience.
Given the basic target demographics for most personal injury law firms, it makes sense for firms to keep their eyes on the Metaverse ball and begin to posture their firms to gain exposure in this new virtual world.
Facebook has made its intentions pretty clear when it comes to the Metaverse- They are in it to win it. And this will inevitably create increased marketing opportunities for law firms who are ready to leverage the Metaverse with organic content and paid Metaverse ads.
In November 2021, Facebook published an article: FB Meta for Business, entitled Three Insights on the Business Opportunities for the Metaverse. www.facebook.com/business/news/metaverse-business-opportunity-insights
In this announcement, Facebook shares how they believe the Metaverse will potentially impact future online business opportunities: “The Metaverse will enhance our physical world experiences. “
They note that many businesses are already using AR (Augmented Reality) like SparkAR that allows consumers to virtually drop furniture into their homes to see how it will fit, or try on products such as makeup, or eyeglasses directly from their Facebook feeds. (Id)
Facebook predicts that the Metaverse is coming full force in the next ten years. (I think they are under promising, and that it will be much sooner, given the current buzz and the pace in which technology keeps stampeding forward). Regardless of the exact timeline, it is clear that Facebook believes the Metaverse “will provide incredible opportunities for businesses both big and small,” and they likened the Metaverse shift to the monumental pivot from desktop to mobile. (Id)
- Focus on 2D Apps now- “Focusing on 2D Apps today is Tomorrow’s Bridge to the Metaverse.”
- As was true with the Mobile internet, the Business Opportunity will follow consumer behavior.
- The Connections you’re building now on 2D platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Messenger and the like, will still apply- and be your bridge to reaching fresh consumers in the Metaverse.
- Start experimenting with Augmented Spark AR Ready Ads now.
- The most successful brands in history have evolved and stayed relevant by understanding the customer’s changing needs.
Consumers’ online practices are in an almost constant state of change and evolution. Tik Tok started out as a teeny-bopper site and is now almost as popular with the masses as Facebook and in some cases, more so. The pandemic resulted in an almost universal increase in time spent online and across all social media platforms. People who’d never even heard of Zoom prior to the pandemic became “experts” in using the platform for work and personal communication.
You can’t sign tomorrow’s cases with yesterday’s strategies. Reaching tomorrow’s potential clients with your firm’s message requires strategic thinking and planning today.
While the full-blown application of the Metaverse may be a few years off, robust virtual reality experiences already exist. Platforms like Spatial.io allow you to create virtual conference rooms and private office experiences for engagement with prospective clients right now. More and more tech companies are likely to enter the Metaverse field, offering easy to use templates for businesses to create unique virtual experiences for prospective clients and customers.
And here’s a point worth pondering: Facebook isn’t investing billions in the creation of their Meta- Verse as a pro bono gift to humanity. They are pouring big money into this venture because they envision the Metaverse as a viable, genuine and massive money-making opportunity- that will attract scores of users eager for the online immersive avatar experience.
The more engagement, the more opportunity for Facebook to make bank selling Metaverse ads to businesses eager to reach this new virtual audience.
Now is the time to start thinking about how you can take advantage of the opportunities the Metaverse will create for increased engagement with prospective clients in your market.
Imagine being able offer tours of your firm’s virtual office- creating a law firm intake avatar that provides AI answers to the top 10 questions most people have after an accident- uploading videos visitors can access within your metaverse office- We already use AI and chat bots on our websites. Creating virtual experiences doesn’t seem to far off in the horizon.
Although this exciting new frontier won’t likely be a place for signing new clients or trying cases, it may well be one more tool in your toolbox for reaching tomorrow’s prospective clients with your firm’s brand and messaging. If you want to be prepared to leverage the new Metaverse marketing opportunities of tomorrow, start your firm’s strategic Metaverse planning today.
PILMMA is committed to helping lawyers grow by staying abreast of the very latest Legal Marketing and Management strategies. For more information or to join PILMMA’s Exclusive Mastermind Groups, go to www.trypilmma.org
For more about the Metaverse for Lawyers and the Absolute Best Strategies to propel your law firm forward and into the future, grab your seat for PILMMA’s 2022 Super Summit in New Orleans, LA.