By Jayson Fittipaldi, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of NOBOX, Miami, FL.
Metaverse media coverage seems to be ubiquitous, as consumers and brands, both with the same level of curiosity, try to navigate this new space and all its possibilities. But, unfortunately, the news isn’t all good.
As Metaverse platforms evolve and multiply, so too are the instances of bullying and harassment. A recent survey from Morning Consult of 4,420 U.S. adults about what worries consumers about the Metaverse found that 44 percent were ‘very concerned’ about cyberbullying and online abuse in the Metaverse. Personal safety and sexual harassment were cited as concerns by nearly 40 percent of respondents.
Clearly, not everyone’s avatar is just chilling at the Metaverse Starbucks.
This scenario is nothing new. Traditional social media platforms continue to confront toxic content with ‘community management,’ a critical function of any social media agency to counteract online cyberbullying, hate speech and the like. But as the Metaverse assumes its place as the next ‘must-have’ for brands, the pressure is on everyone – platforms, brands, and agencies, to do better in the mirror world than in our current IRL social media one.
But that’s where both the challenges and opportunities exist.
When we start thinking about Web3 and its decentralized communities, fighting hate speech and cyberbullying become more challenging simply because within these decentralized Metaverse communities, the freedom to speak one’s mind in passionate ways is exactly why they’re coming there in the first place, instead of the more closely moderated spaces within corporate-owned Metaverse portals like Roblox or Fortnite. Within those spaces, there are clear guidelines around hate speech and cyberbullying.
However, attempts to impose ways to moderate content in these decentralized spaces will likely prove to be extremely difficult and likely met with less than enthusiastic responses. The best solution for community management in the Metaverse is what is already happening naturally in which individual members of communities adopt a self-policing approach with other members feeling empowered to tell another member when they’ve crossed the line. While there are ‘rules’ that are made clear before entering many of these Web3 communities, that in and of itself is clearly not going to be enough of a deterrent for some.
The bottom line: There’s a dramatic difference between Web3 and Web2 when it comes to these issues. It’s the wild west compared to Jane Austin’s England, but that doesn’t mean brands in the Metaverse don’t have options.
One solution for brands ready to play in the Metaverse sandbox is to consider employing ‘ambassadors,’ who just like in a real-world activation, are employed by the agency but represent brands in these communities. They serve as community managers, similar to what we see today in social media. When activations happen in the Metaverse, just like in social, agencies need to assign an ambassador. That person – in the form of some cool-looking, logo-adorned avatar no-doubt – will lay out the ground rules for the community, enforce standards, as well as serve as a guide through the experience.
Content That Elevates Conversation:
In social media today we’re at a mature stage in community management. Agencies, brands and platforms, with the help of numerous state-of-the-art digital tools, monitor for hate speech and are quick to stop it. The Metaverse though is such a nascent platform, enforcement of standards like we see in social media now are still very much TBD.
That doesn’t mean it needs to be the wild west. One of the simplest tools agencies have in community management is to simply think through your creative and anticipate the type of conversations a particular piece of content might provoke. Creating content that elevates conversations goes a long way toward community management. As does constant monitoring of what’s being said on the channel. A good brand ambassador in the Metaverse, just as community managers do on social media, can make content more engaging with visitors by directly responding to and amplifying comments that create a vibe that is both welcoming and safe.
As the Metaverse becomes a more popular place for consumers to gather, issues surrounding the behavior of some and how to enforce standards will become further pronounced, and as much in the mirror-world, tough to predict. But agencies, working with brands, do have the power to make the Metaverse both fun and free from hate by following the lessons learned by social media agencies with community management.