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The Metaverse will change how we chat, game, hang out and even shop. But how will it affect how social media influencers operate? No precise data is available on the number of influencers, but the media company Mediakix estimates there are 3.2 million to 37.8 million influencers worldwide across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Influencing is big business — and as such, the Metaverse’s impact could be enormous.
Who better to speak to on the topic than inStreamly? They’re the latest brilliant company hubraum has invested in — they’re an influencer marketing platform which focuses on gaming and live streaming, aggregating the reach of 60,000 small gaming live streamers and letting them work with top brands. They’ve created successful campaigns for everyone from Durex to Playstation — basically, anyone who wants to forge a better connection to Gen Z or the gaming community.
We spoke to Forbes’ 30 under 30 star Wiktoria Wójcik, who co-founded inStreamly, to find out more. We wanted to hear where influencers are at right now: and where they’ll be headed, post-Metaverse.
Wiktoria knows more than most about influencers and streamers. inStreamly predominantly works with “the streamers you don’t usually see in case studies about live streaming marketing because they have maybe 50, maybe 100 viewers, some of them have only 10 viewers, but all of them have engaged audiences, so we get them in bulk and let them work with the top brands in an automated way.” The automated way is via a platform which streamers can join, register and browse available campaigns on before applying to join a specific campaign.
What tech are the creators they’re currently using reliant on to build their brand? It depends whether they’re streaming via a laptop or a mobile phone, Wiktoria tells us. With live streaming, you need the software to do so, a microphone, a web camera and a computer to run it all. Wiktoria believes that even the creators of today who are popular on non-video platforms will increasingly use live streaming. Why? “It allows them to engage with their audience on a more real, less staged basis,” she explains.
She works with streamers of all ages — some who are 57 years old and using the platform, others whom are millennials in their 30s, others who are younger. Within these streamers, she says they see a differentiation in how they approach live streaming. “The older the streamer, the more professional their approach to live streaming because for them if they’re streaming 10-16 hours a week, they need to think about getting something bigger out of it than a kid doing it for fun after school.
The stakes are higher.“ There’s not just a difference in approach but a difference in the platforms chosen by streamers and creators, depending on their ages. Older creators tend to rely on very established platforms, she points out: Facebook and YouTube. In contrast, Gen Z creators who want to make their living out of influencing will opt for TikTok or Twitch: “It encourages a certain type of authenticity and provides content that is easier, simpler and faster to make for younger creators.”
So how will this change as the metaverse develops? Wiktoria starts by defining what she means by the Metaverse, as different definitions still abound: “I see the Metaverse as the next step, for the internet. The Metaverse for me is a universal network of platforms where we can create our own worlds and explore them together in a 3D way, in a way that’s also massively scaled and you can go between worlds.”
Wiktoria believes that the fundamentals won’t change: “It’s about making content that fits a certain niche, interests a certain audience and then distributing it as broadly as possible.”
However, what she believes the metaverse will alter is making what she dubs “niche-ification” more possible: “Allowing people to go further down the rabbit hole, basically.” Right now, you can find a community about anything you can dream of, she points out. As such, you’re not limited to the people interested in that topic who are in your own neighbourhood, you can find friends from across the world and talk to them about this very specific topic.
“But in the Metaverse, it will be easier for this community to feel more real — instead of just typing and experiencing this very flat way of being together, they will be in a living world which is specifically made for their niche.”
Can she give us an example? Wiktoria thinks for a second. Imagine a guy who records videos about cars because he has access to those cars and expert knowledge, she proposes. In the future, he might have a 3D world which you’d access via VR. “You could join the world and see the car he’s talking about for yourself because he’s scanning them to bring them into a 3D world.
People inside the world could race different cars together or sit and chat in a real-life setting, like a bonfire. Maybe people could choose the best features from different cars and via voting, create a new car which will be showcased inside this world — which everyone could test drive or even customize it for themselves.” In short, it would allow a person to create a world entirely dedicated to following this passion and going really in-depth about it.
She also thinks it will usher in another change: an intensification of the community aspect of influencing. While influencing might appear to be carried out by individuals, more often than not, they’re more like companies build around one personality, with graphic designers, video editors managers and assistants all hired to support the creator. For example, MrBeast has 20 people who work for him.
She thinks it’s hard to imagine that one person could take on all the work that creating an entire world would entail. “ if we move towards the metaverse I think it’s going to be even more about creating things together, sharing an audience together.”
Multiple people will be required: “You will have people making the world and making assets because every car, every racetrack, every nose on your avatar, and every piece of clothing needs to be created by somebody. If you have an unlimited number of worlds, an unlimited number of people who create them, you need to have an unlimited number of assets and they need to be created by somebody.”
She thinks it’s also going to get harder for people who are effectively faking their popularity — perhaps they’re making uninteresting content, but are just incredibly good at SEO and promotion. “The Metaverse will be even more about quality.”
However, it won’t all be good. She stresses that moderation will be a challenge: “Facebook’s Horizon Worlds needed to add a safety distance feature after two days on their new platform because people were getting too close to other people and harassing them.” This said, she thinks one answer might be to develop more niche communities so only true enthusiasts are associating with each other.
Alternatively, she suggests this problem might simply disappear when the metaverse is populated by VR natives who conduct themselves with the same respect for other people that they do in real life — you wouldn’t stand oddly close to a stranger at the bus stop, so why would you do it in a virtual world?
Ultimately, however, she thinks it will be 20-30 years before the Metaverse really exists as tech enthusiasts imagine it, “in a utopian way.” For the Metaverse to really start existing, she says, we need major advancement and adoption of VR technology.
She suggests we also need better technology in terms of networking, computing and the cloud and that this will enable more decentralised and high quality open meta platforms, the type of platforms that allow you to create your own worlds easily.
“The next step for the true Metaverse where you find yourself in a Ready Player One kind of world is going to be haptic devices, devices which allow you to control your movement in a digital space in a way that feels natural. Because as long as we need to have a clunky controller in hand and we don’t have natural hand movements and natural face movements, it’s not going to feel very real.”
This said, she believes the ultimate Metaverse will only become a true reality when we have “brain computer interface experiences” — where there’s no need to wave your hand, you just have to think about waving it. On top, to have it all work, she says, we need to create standard that will allow all those platforms, companies and technologies to work seamlessly together.“Once we have all those pieces in place we can dream about a fully decentralised, interoperable and parallel universe.”