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Are you ready for the transition to the metaverse? It’s a charged question — there are still a lot of rumors and speculation about what, precisely, the metaverse entails and what it means for the rest of us who aren’t owned by Facebook — or what used to be Facebook, at any rate.
What it boils down to, however, is that we are living in a state of flux. This is probably obvious — just a quick runthrough of what we’ve dealt with over the past few years should make it clear. But as we’ve seen with businesses adapting to the emphasis on ecommerce and the virtual shift during the raging of the pandemic, we are also seeing businesses begin to shift even further as the digital world cleaves ever closer to reality.
With more internet users spending more time online than ever before, and small businesses being hit by hard times, it’s time to rethink how we connect with our audience. Here are six ways to make sure that your small business can weather the transition and thrive in the aftermath.
Related: The Tech Industry Can Be An Accelerator For Change
Know your niche
The metaverse — the concept of connecting people to tech and vice versa using virtual and augmented reality — isn’t new. While Zuckerberg and his all-seeing company touts it as the next big thing, the idea has been around for decades, at varying levels of execution. Technically, the first online message boards back in the late eighties and early nineties could be seen as the precursor to today’s metaverse push, since it was all about connecting people virtually.
It can be hard to find a consensus on when the metaverse idea was originally floated, just as it’s challenging to find an agreed-upon definition of what it means for us now. So the first key to making sure that your small business is ready for the new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can leverage tech to achieve it.
This means different things for each company. For one startup, it’s a matter of developing better AI to address customer questions on-site. For another, it’s creating an entire VR world that enables potential buyers to examine products as though they were really there with them.
Only you can determine what you want the metaverse to do for your business — and that’s the vital first step to riding the digital wave.
With new tech initiatives and social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is the perfect time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.
One of my favorite things about the idea of the metaverse is the focus on connectivity. In researching potential startups in the new digital age, that’s one thing I would have at the top of the list for visuals: messaging that makes clear how important communication is to my venture. It’s one of the founding values behind the metaverse, and it belongs front and center in my branding, too.
This is an excellent time to consider rebranding to reflect that value. Whether you just need to update your existing visuals or create a logo with a software entirely from scratch, I heartily recommend using a brand identity guide for your company logo before we get any further in the metaverse initiative.
Related: 5 Signs It’s Time To Rebrand
Take advantage of initiatives by big companies
Speaking of initiatives, have you heard about Amazon and small businesses?
No, I don’t mean the much-debated idea that Amazon is putting small businesses out of, well, business. Amazon Web Services is actually launching a pilot program to help small businesses enter the realm of ecommerce with a minimum of fuss— and allow customers to search the small business database and connect with companies that share values, offer the desired products, and other searchable factors.
That’s a surprising, and very welcome, step for the ecommerce giant to take. And it isn’t the only one. For example, much ado is made of Facebook’s switch to becoming Meta, but along with the name change comes some other upgrades, especially for business accounts seeking out new ways to communicate and connect with their target audience.
It’s likely that more and more of these opportunities and resources will come up as we progress, so the key is to be aware of them — and take advantage of them, too. Big companies may not historically be the best friends to small businesses, but there’s room for give and take in the metaverse.
Claim and update your business on search engines
This is a key that you’re likely doing anyhow — at least, you should be — but there’s actually a pretty good chance that you need to address it. Webfx.com reports that more than half of business owners don’t claim their company on tools like Google My Business, AKA Google Business Profile.
Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in our time. Without it, you miss out on opportunities to drive traffic to your site or the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information that they need. And keeping the information up to date is just as important — ask anyone who went looking for an open restaurant over the holidays and who drove to five different locations because their Google profile claimed they were open (and by “anyone,” I mean me).
Related: Google Unveils New Tool for Businesses to Manage Their Online Presence
Don’t abandon the old ways too quickly
My fifth recommendation for making sure that you’re ready for the digital transformation may seem counterintuitive. Simply put, avoid jumping the gun.
That is, don’t rush into doing everything all-virtual, all the time.
Yes, we’re in a state of flux. Yes, there are a multitude of opportunities to launch into the metaverse. Yes, it’s exciting, and yes, likely some of your client base will be ready for it.
But the core of good business has always been to give the customer what they want. And the majority of consumers aren’t quite at the launch point — not yet.
If there’s any question of that, just consider the numbers. About 68 percent of those polled in a Morning Consult study say that they’re uninterested in engaging with Meta’s metaverse, the augmented/virtual reality initiative behind Facebook’s recent name change.
So even as you position your company to be ready for what comes next, don’t be quick to forget the old ways. For many of your customers, they really are the best. Give your audience the option to engage with your brand in more traditional methods.
The sixth, and potentially most important, key way to ensure that your small business is ready for anything is — be ready for anything.
By that, I mean be adaptable. One thing I’ve learned in more than a decade of entrepreneurship is that just about the time I get comfortable, that’s when things start to change. We have an exciting future ahead of us with an ever-more tech-minded push, with changes in how we view and interact with our world. Getting too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project could prevent you from seeing what’s coming up next week.
One thing is for certain — there’s a transformation headed our way. How your small business rides out the changes over the next decade will be up to you. At the very least, however, you should be prepared for what might come next.