Metaverse: A New Era of Socializing

Is the Metaverse social space empty?

Socialization, as a natural product of human social attributes, has given birth to a large number of new business models in the long history of commerce, and its patterns have always been seeking breakthroughs in efficiency, experience and other dimensions. In the context of contemporary business, socialization has lifted up multiple super applications such as WeChat, TikTok, Instagram, and has become one of the biggest driving forces for business innovation today.

Today, the ways, scenes and spaces of socialization are undergoing a new round of transformation. People are beginning to seek new ways of socialization, and the emergence of the metaverse seems to be a perfect breakthrough."

Metaverse A New Era of Socializing

{getToc} $title={Table of Contents}

The Social Arena of Strangers

From a macro perspective, the "2022 Global Digital Overview" report shows that there are over 4.62 billion social media users worldwide, and global internet users spend nearly 2.5 hours on social media every day, with a daily growth rate of 2 minutes. Social networks have a huge user base, with long usage times and high stickiness, while the metaverse has a large scale and involves diverse social scenes, and the two complement each other in application, making them a high-quality future track.

Currently, traditional social models are mainly offline and online. Offline socializing is limited by time and space, while online socializing is more in line with modern trends - not limited by geographical space, with high timeliness and entertainment value.

However, online socializing is also facing bottlenecks and limited development models. Text, voice, video, and other modes have not made breakthroughs in many years, and social tools used daily are gradually losing their innovative capabilities. Complex and redundant social relationships have consumed people's desire to share, making them unwilling to showcase their lives and opinions.

In the era of mobile internet, the light acquaintance social model emerged.

The emergence of light acquaintance socializing is inseparable from the help of basic communication devices and universal software. Mobile phones on the mobile end serve as important devices for instant messaging, and are linked to universal software such as WeChat to complete content socializing, blurring the boundaries between strangers and acquaintances. However, in recent years, user and traffic growth has gradually weakened, and content has become increasingly homogeneous. The demand for standardized development of platform economy and data security has put an end to its barbaric growth.

Compared with traditional social models, metaverse socializing largely reduces limitations and combines the advantages of other social models.

In the metaverse, "roles," or virtual avatars, need to be constructed by oneself. Face-to-face communication in the virtual world makes up for the lack of body language and eye contact in online socializing, presenting social subjects in a more concrete way, perfecting the image deficiency of traditional online social models, and giving users enough immersion. With the assistance of wearable devices, more realistic sensory experiences can be generated, making it feel like being there, effectively solving the time and space limitations of traditional offline social models.

In the metaverse scene, there are also new social hooks such as new economic systems and digital assets, and novel gameplay can quickly capture users' minds.

All these characteristics point to the main development focus of metaverse socializing, which should be placed on socializing with strangers.

According to a report by iMedia Consulting, although the growth rate of socializing with strangers in China has slowed down year by year, the total scale is still very large. Currently, Generation Z has become the main force of social network users in China. As of the end of 2021, the mobile social network user scale of Generation Z was 333 million, accounting for 34.0% of the total user scale.

At the same time, Generation Z has a higher acceptance of socializing with strangers and a stronger willingness to pay, and has grown into a consumer mainstay. According to a report by iResearch Consulting, the average income per paying user in the mobile social market in 2021 was 358 yuan, while the average income per paying user of Generation Z was 561 yuan.

The interaction scene of socializing with strangers is established in immersive virtual images and virtual scenes, and users can pinch their faces and choose scenes according to their preferences. In the metaverse, the characteristics of de-emphasizing identity and decentralization protect users' privacy. Different from traditional socializing, the real immersion of metaverse socializing can quickly shorten the distance between strangers and stimulate social enthusiasm.

Young Socializing in Algorithms

As one of the pioneers of socializing in the metaverse, Soul's target audience is primarily Generation Z. According to its prospectus, 74.9% of Soul's users are young people from Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2009). Soul does not support users uploading real-life avatars, but instead uses interest graphs and algorithms to match users. Users with high compatibility will be recommended on each other's homepages, creating opportunities for interaction.

At the beginning of each story, users can wear their own created 3D avatars and socialize with other users through various social channels such as soul matching, video matching, adventure bells, and group chat parties. Soul was founded with an interest-oriented approach, allowing users with different interests to communicate and create a truly free space in a decentralized form.

In terms of algorithms, Soul has established an IT infrastructure that includes AI, data analysis, information recognition, and labeling. It also adds game-like interactive features to increase user stickiness and achieve precise user recommendations.

In terms of virtual images, Soul's main achievement in the metaverse is the "NAWA engine," which can output dozens of image processing and 2D/3D rendering capabilities, including avatar expression driving, beauty and makeup, and cartoonization. It supports the output of more delicate and exquisite virtual images.

The emergence of "face sculptors" also demonstrates Soul's efforts to form a closed-loop economic system. Face sculptors are a new profession in the Soul universe, and their works will be sold in the "Personality Mall" at three price points: 180, 300, and 420 Soul coins.

However, Soul also faces the basic dilemma that all metaverse social applications must face - the entrance. Although the entrance to the metaverse is not only AR/XR, consumers do not buy the idea of entering the metaverse world through their mobile phones. Many people believe that using a mobile phone to enter the metaverse is more like playing a game on a mobile phone, which greatly reduces the sense of reality and immersion.

Nevertheless, the biggest hidden danger is still the declining trust of users in the app. In June 2019, Soul was taken down by regulatory authorities due to the existence of illegal and inappropriate content such as pornography. How to deal with various harmful information and violations and criminal cases commonly found in socializing with strangers is a problem that Soul must face.

Can Metaverse Social Networking Really Make Money?

In the case of Soul, we mentioned the profession of face sculptor and its business model of selling virtual images. To some extent, if more digital professions like this emerge in the future, the formation of the Metaverse economic system may not be far away.

In fact, the business model of Metaverse social networking is very similar to that of traditional social networking, divided into two main paths: C-end and B-end. The main source of revenue for the C-end is to provide users with membership services and value-added services. Membership services mainly provide users with higher-level permissions, which test user stickiness relatively; while value-added services such as virtual effects and paid services test content quality.

The revenue of the B-end mainly relies on advertising and e-commerce. Too much advertising may cause user loss, and e-commerce requires the derivation of trading platforms and precise algorithmic delivery, so the proportion of B-end revenue is generally not high.

Overall, the profitability of the current business model of Metaverse social networking is weak, and the path to commercial realization is relatively single. The construction of the Metaverse economic system is still a long way to go.

Taking Soul as an example, the monetization model mainly relies on the C-end, and is still exploring other revenue channels. According to Soul's prospectus, the monthly active users of Soul reached 31.6 million in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 51.6%; the average daily active users were 9.3 million, a year-on-year increase of 55.8%. Although user growth is fast, it is a large marketing investment: Soul spent 200 million yuan, 620 million yuan, and 1.51 billion yuan on sales and marketing expenses from 2019 to 2021, respectively.

Although concepts such as "soul social networking" and "social Metaverse" are constantly emerging and attracting the attention of young users, research has found that the proportion of actual paying users is very low, and most users will not consume multiple times, which has also caused Soul's losses to expand year by year. Its losses in 2019-2021 were -292 million yuan, -466 million yuan, and -999 million yuan, respectively.

In the future, innovative and integrated Metaverse advertising is expected to be the focus of revenue, such as erecting digital billboards in Metaverse cities, etc. Marketers are trying to break through the boundaries of advertising production in innovative, engaging, and low-cost ways, creating huge monetization opportunities for the Metaverse.

Future Development Trends of Metaverse Social Networking

Although there is no clear technology and business path for metaverse social networking in the shadow of "Facebook" changing to "META", it is still a somewhat empty world. However, from the perspective of user needs and feature adaptation, metaverse social networking still has a bright future.

Regarding its future development trends, we make the following judgments:

1. The construction of "scenario-based immersive" interactive social platforms will become the future of metaverse social networking. In scenario-based platforms, users can interact in real-time, making it easier to create an immersive experience. The accumulation of different scenario-based social platforms will gradually form a social ecosystem.

On March 1st, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated that it will comprehensively promote the research and development of 6G technology, as well as the continuous popularization of 5G technology, providing strong technical support for metaverse social networking. The continuous maturity of XR device technology provides a better interactive atmosphere for the formation of virtual images, which means that the combination of the real world and the virtual world is more seamless. We believe that in the near future, it will be possible to achieve perfect communication and interaction between different time and space and different social groups.

2. With the support of AIGC, high-quality content will become the core value-added part of social metaverse and provide weapons for commercial realization. In the social field, content is one of the core elements, the carrier of interaction, and the key to user retention. The content form in metaverse social networking is more diverse, and the imagination, connection, and collaboration capabilities that AIGC can provide are destined to become the mainstream of content in the next era, and build core business capabilities through tools, communities, and other forms.

Other Articles

Post a Comment

Please Select Embedded Mode To Show The Comment System.*

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form