When social media arrived at the beginning of the 21st century, it was a new way for people to connect, hang out and communicate. As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, social media had evolved to become more than just a place for people to gather and chat. Social media has become an immensely powerful marketing tool for businesses across numerous industries vying for market share. It has also become a powerful tool for politicians, celebrities, and laymen to reach out to their target audience.
During the first two decades of this century, social media has become a ubiquitous experience and powerful form of communication in our society. Technology has had embedded the social media experience into our culture so much; a question beckons: what will this experience look like in the future?
The short answer is social media VR. In other words, social media will begin to leverage virtual reality technology.
What is Social Media VR?
Currently, virtual reality’s impact on society has become as widespread as social media. Companies across numerous industries and people from all walks of life can use VR to interact on social media. Organizations and laymen can interact on social media in an immersive manner.
Immersing ourselves in the content on social media is what social media VR provides to companies and people. This immersive social media grants everyone the liberty to interact with other people via a variety of methods.
For instance, a VR social network allows users to create personal avatars, wear a headset and wander about in a game landscape; the user can also customize this landscape. This new kind of social network provides a deeper connection with the content and increases the user’s enjoyment level.
Social media VR has started to influence many social media platforms. Facebook Horizon is a compelling use case that helps to understand the future of social networks.
Facebook Horizon Points to the Future of Social Networks
After Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014, they distributed copies of Ernest Cline’s book Ready Player One to all the new Oculus employees. It looks like Facebook has used that book as the blueprint for Horizon.
Horizon begins at a centralized town square. Before users plunge into town, visitors can use an extensive and complete collection of avatar tools to pick their bodily appearance and the clothes they will wear. From there, the user can explore, play, or create.
The explore element allows users to build new destinations. For instance, a user can build their dream beach house and invite their friends over to hangout.
Horizon’s tools allow users to create clothing for your avatar. More sophisticated tools permit developers to develop interpersonal experiences.
Facebook explains that their play portal instils friendly competition, teamwork, and fun. Right now, because Horizon is in closed beta mode, users are limited to play Facebook curated games. However, this may quickly expand to other sports, including games of chance.
Horizon’s create portal is probably the most fascinating. It’s intriguing because Facebook’s intuitive building tools permit users to build any world they can imagine. Right now, users can create simple objects or complicated 3-D objects.
With further development, this portal can lead to businesses creating visual and impactful stories about their product and services.
Also, in the near future, city planners can use this portal to outline ideas for new urban planning or tax policy, instead of standing in front of a group of people talking about the concept. City planners can immerse their audience in their idea; letting the audience see and feel the plan in action. Politicians can also inculcate this same ideology for voters.
In the future, social media VR will allow platforms to create their constitution. Facebook has a Horizon constitution on its “Citizenship” page. The page states that as citizens of Facebook Horizon, it’s everyone’s responsibility to form a culture of respect and relaxation. The page even describes the perfect citizen of Horizon; “…friendly, inclusive, and curious.” Horizon natives roam the virtual setting answering questions and helping users with technical and safety problems. They act as two half roles as customer service and half virtual police.
If things get overwhelming, users can hit a button to pause and escape to a private setting. Users can also set personal space boundaries so personal interactions cannot get out of control. Facebook is smart to encapsulate the tone and protections of this community.
Within this decade, Horizon can easily create a dynamic social network while monetizing it with viewed ads; Horizon may be fill up with VR billboards. Also, toy shops, home furnishing stores, and grocery stores run on Facebook could open for business. Do keep in mind that Facebook may use Libra as Horizon’s official virtual currency.
Because virtual reality is so widespread, expect other platforms to follow Facebook’s lead. The social media experience of the future will become more dynamic and powerful. The purpose of social media was always about connecting people.
Other platforms may not follow Facebook exactly, but Horizon is a good starting point for the future of social networks.