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Imagine waking up in the morning, hitting the gym, meeting with friends, taking a trip to a whole new world and still making it to the office before your first meeting. While this sounds impossible, it could be a reality in the metaverse. 

With applications including new virtual office spaces, hands-on training in a completely virtual world and just a general modernization in the way we connect and interact with others, the metaverse can have far-reaching implications. 

Today, many of these innovations are still theoretical, but countless organizations and tech companies are already jumping in. From metaverse technologies and meta-specific product offerings, association leaders should be looking to the metaverse and seeing what opportunities there are to help evolve their organizations and move their missions forward. 

What Is The Metaverse?

At its core, the metaverse is all about immersion. It’s a way to turn the things we do daily – work, socialize, travel, and even learn – into a digital experience. While there are already immersive experiences today, like video games and even virtual conferences, the prospect of the metaverse is much more complex. 

For starters, many of the companies getting involved, including Microsoft and Facebook, have discussed the idea of an avatar. These digital representations of us will be the way we interact with the metaverse. They can be styled to our liking, using things like NFTs, and will also be the lens with which we view and interact with the metaverse.  

What Technology Will We Need?

Speaking of interacting, the metaverse will likely leverage the technology we already use, things like smartphones and computers, but will augment them with additions. From VR headsets, haptic gear (gloves and bodysuits that let you “feel” in the metaverse), and even treadmills to simulate running and climbing, these tools will help build that immersive experience. 

Outside of the technological requirements, an entirely new economic system will also be needed. The metaverse will open the doors for a decentralized economy backed by blockchain technology, which will allow users to buy and sell NFTs, register and attend events, and experience all the offerings found in the metaverse using cryptocurrencies.

Who’s Getting Involved?

Today, many organizations are developing programs and teams to tackle the segway into the metaverse. One of the biggest was Facebook’s rebranding to Meta and their focus on developing VR technology in the form of Horizon Worlds and the Quest headset

However, there are a few other notable entries that associations can gain inspiration from, including: 

  • In 2021, Nike acquired RTFKT, a company focused on creating unique digital assets. They’ve now launched their first Nike NFT sneaker for the metaverse, and it’s selling for $8K
  • In the wake of hybrid and remote work, Microsoft spent time developing Mesh, an all-new virtual reality technology aimed at revolutionizing the way we work and collaborate. 

How Can It Change the Association Landscape?

The metaverse may not be at the top of mind for many associations, unless you’re in the tech industry, of course, but there are still lessons to be learned from it. The impact on associations falls into two categories – operations and business development.

This means that the development of the metaverse can impact how associations work internally, how they interact with members and how they raise funds and operate. 

4 Metaverse Perks for Associations 

  1. Offices & Meetings – We already know that the way we work is changing. However, the metaverse could be an answer for organizations still looking to collaborate and develop culture. Whether that means more interactive meetings where staffers can collaborate using 3D tools or even virtual hangouts and happy hours, facilitating collaboration and building culture may be even more manageable in the metaverse. 
  2. Improved Accessibility – Accessibility should be a priority for all organizations – from events to education. The metaverse will allow organizations to host immersive virtual events and create opportunities for one-on-one learning and classroom-style teaching with few accessibility limitations. 
  3. Virtual Events – Whether virtual events are the new norm or not, they will likely play a significant role in the metaverse. Imagine creating a virtual stage for your speakers surrounded by all the avatars of your members. Not only does this make events more engaging, but it expands the possibilities for networking and unique event sessions. 
  4. Merchandising – From billboards to promote your next fundraising event to unique NFTs that give your members access to exclusive locations or experiments in the metaverse, monetized merch can quickly become a unique revenue generator for associations. 

Acknowledging the value of modernization and emerging technologies helps organizations plan for the future. Your organization can leverage possibilities in the metaverse, from digitizing your existing platform offerings to developing new products with emerging technology. 

The Metaverse Basics Your Members Should Know

The idyllic version of the metaverse - think Ready Player One – is still a ways away. However, that doesn’t mean organizations should “wait and see” on the metaverse. As cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and Web3 continue to gain popularity, taking the time to understand this evolution of the internet is critical. 

So what do your members need to know?

  1. The metaverse is still being built, but many of its technologies are already being used today. 
  2. It’s more than just a virtual location; there will likely be large hubs where people will congregate (think social media platforms). 
  3. NFTs and digital merchandise will be unique ways to “dress or decorate” avatars in the metaverse.
  4. Your association will have unique ways to interact and provide value to members, including virtual events, members-only areas and unique NFTs/collectibles.  
  5. Collaboration and education will become more immersive and interactive, with attendees being able to come together in a central virtual space. 

Preparing for the metaverse can be daunting, but can be an opportunity for the future. Whether that means minting new NFTs for your next virtual event or experimenting with augmented reality meetings, associations have plenty of ways to start planning and experimenting.

Jose Triana
Post by Jose Triana
April 30, 2022
Jose Triana is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.