July 4

3 Reasons Why Your School Should Be Prepping for the Metaverse

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Last year, I teased how the Metaverse will change how we approach enrollment marketing, breaking down its implications for the higher ed space.

Now that Meta’s great enterprise has had time to simmer, I wanted to review its influence on the digital landscape and why you should care.

Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of bringing people from every corner of the planet into a digital world built around virtual and augmented reality is gaining traction.

Zuckerberg projects that a billion people worldwide will socially interact and trade in digital commerce within the Metaverse by the decade’s end.

Sound far-fetched? With virtual reality tech likely to become mainstream by 2026, Zuckerberg’s prediction might be within reason.

The technology behind the Metaverse may advance faster than you think, and it will profoundly impact your institution. But, ultimately, the direction of that impact may be decided by your school’s willingness to embrace the next leap forward in this digital revolution.

Without further ado, here are three reasons your higher ed marketing team should be preparing for the rise of the Metaverse!

1) Big Name Brands Are Spending Big Money

The Metaverse isn’t just a billionaire playboy’s latest hobby.

Powerful brands in the entertainment, banking, apparel, and real estate (yes, you read that correctly – real estate) sectors are already gearing up to grab their slice of this giant digital pie.

In January, Microsoft purchased one of its gaming competitors, Activision Blizzard, for a whopping 70 billion dollars. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said this when announcing the purchase:

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.” – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

Microsoft was also one of several tech giants – along with Meta, Adobe, Qualcomm, and Sony – who had a forum this month to discuss standards for the Metaverse.

However, while gaming will undoubtedly be a component of the Metaverse, it isn’t being built for gaming.

Many companies in other industries are racing towards the Metaverse landgrab. Earlier this year, business titans Nike and Disney each filed several trademarks and posted numerous job openings related to development in the Metaverse.

Private businesses aren’t the only organizations getting their foot in the door. For example, the city of Santa Monica announced last December that they were partnering with FlickPlay to digitally map the city, giving locals access to the Metaverse through augmented reality.

My point is this: these people are not spending all of this time and money on a whimsical hypothetical. The Metaverse is not a pipedream. While it may still be in its infancy, it is already a multibillion-dollar venture.

I said in my social media update that higher ed marketers should always be looking for the ‘next big thing.’ So, it’s not too early to consider how your school can incorporate the Metaverse to raise your brand awareness.

2) School Functions in the Metaverse Will Be a Reality

Hopefully, your school has at least explored VR and augmented reality potential for your enrollment needs.

In my previous Metaverse article, I challenged the reader to think about the exciting possibilities of virtual campus tours. For example, what if a digital avatar modeled after your school mascot could lead kids and parents through a virtual representation of your campus grounds?

That technology isn’t around the corner; it’s already here.

I’d like to introduce you to Crush the Turtle.

You might remember this lovable ‘surfer bro’ sea turtle from Disney and Pixar’s movie Finding Nemo. At Disney’s Epcot Center, you can find a seat at their Turtle Talk theater and participate in a real-time Q&A with this virtual character.

Crush may be a 2D augmented attraction, but is it far-fetched to foresee something similar as an immersive virtual experience for your school in five to ten years?

Campus events won’t be the only functions adapting this technology. Classrooms across the country will become virtual learning centers.

In early April, Engage XR Holdings PLC – a virtual reality software company – partnered with ten schools, including Morehouse College and West Virginia University.

Funded by Meta’s Immersive Learning program, Engage will be developing virtual campuses, or “Metaversities,” for each school participating. In addition, meta will provide each student with a VR headset, giving them full access to these virtual campuses.

A research study released by Brookings earlier this year perfectly sums up what virtual classrooms like these Metaversities could do for education:

“For critical thinking, students can solve real problems, enter a makers’ fair and show their wares not only in their school, but to a broader community. They can visit different time periods to bring evidence to bear on age-old questions about Greek culture or even enter scientific laboratories and connect these experiences to real-life learning.” – Kathy Hirsh-Pasek et al., A Whole New World: Education Meets the Metaverse

VR and augmented reality techs may still seem like a luxury today. However, I think their adoption will soon become necessary for your school to win over your enrollment leads.

3) Digital Content Will Be the New Swag

Whether it be totes, tumblers, or tech accessories, I’m guessing your recruiters bring plenty of branded swag to your enrollment marketing events.

Now, imagine you’re showing off your brand new Metaversity to some potential recruits, giving a virtual tour to boys and girls scattered worldwide.

Each person will be represented by an avatar. An avatar is a digital model projecting how someone wants to be viewed in a virtual world. Like in reality, most folks want to create a unique style for these avatars to stand out from the crowd.

For example, as part of their 100th-anniversary celebration, fashion giant Gucci partnered with the online gaming platform Roblox for a one-of-a-kind event.

They recreated a virtual version of their world-famous Gucci Gardens in Florence, Italy, allowing online visitors to tour the exhibition.

During the tour, each person’s avatar (which starts as a naked mannequin) evolves to show the colors and styles in the Gardens. Gucci also hosted an online store at the event that sold exclusive apparel for the visitors’ avatars.

Your students and prospects will be craving digital apparel and other virtual collectibles once the Metaverse is in full swing. So, it’s not too early to consider designing these items for your school.

The Metaverse Is Coming

If you still think the Metaverse will never take off, let me remind you of the time that Newsweek infamously published an article in 1995 declaring the internet a joke.

Nobody is laughing now.

Will the Metaverse be as revolutionary for higher ed marketing as the internet? It very well could be.

Drop us a line if you’d like to learn more about how your school or university can prepare for the Metaverse!


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