Entertainment, Relationships and Life in the Metaverse
As with life, things pertaining to the metaverse are complicated at best. There is little doubt that this new frontier will help connect us, entertain us, and make some of us money in new ways. It might even help some to find true love.
But what’s less clear is the big picture. Where is the metaverse headed, what should we do to prepare ourselves and what are its dangers? To help unpack some of this, I sat down with Dating Group Chief Strategy Officer KJ Dhaliwal.
Those who don’t know Dating Group, it’s now one of the largest global social discovery companies there is, with projected annual revenue of $300 million and more than 33 different platforms that help people connect worldwide.
They are in the business of helping people connect online, so it only makes sense that they would have their fingers squarely on the pulse of something like the metaverse. But before we get to that, you first need to understand what social discovery is.
What is social discovery?
“Social discovery is all about people connecting around mutual interests, like dating, gaming, music, or traveling, and creating deeply personal long-term, non-ephemeral interactions,” said KJ Dhaliwal, chief strategy officer at Dating Group.
“Although many say they are, today’s leading social media platforms are not in the business of social discovery. Most of the interactions on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others are between people who aren’t that interested in spending a lot of time together online.”
In other words, social media is all about following people or getting followers, where interactions are typically short and shallow. Take, for example, the comment thread in a Reddit post. It’s here one minute and then buried in a sea of opinions the next.
But according to Dhaliwal, social discovery is about something deeper. “Social discovery is all about creating networks of trust where users connect based on similar interests,” added Dhaliwal.
“People come together and explore together. As such, developing affinity networks while maintaining the users’ privacy is paramount to the success of social discovery. And this goes against what most social media platforms value.”
As we’ve seen with the likes of Facebook and others, your privacy is of no value to them — it’s all about what they can extract from you and push to you. In this sense, social media controls the discovery process, whereas social discovery lets it happen more naturally.
How does social discovery work?
Dhaliwal explained that having a large user base that you know intimately is the key to success within the social discovery industry. That’s because people don’t inherently want to socialize with random strangers.
So it’s on the social discovery company to identify the core motivations of its users, helping set up interaction opportunities based on their needs and desires.
“People looking for a romantic relationship, someone to play games with or travel with, are not served by traditional social networks because someone’s immediate social circle doesn’t necessarily contain people interested in the activities users want to participate in,” explained Dhaliwal.
And with that, social discovery companies provide an environment for people to interact with each other that matches their needs. Whether it’s finding a new relationship or someone to play chess with, social discovery companies facilitate personal interactions that satisfy users’ craving to meet other people with the same interests.
What about the metaverse?
As we dive into the metaverse, it will become clear why the distinction between social media and social discovery is so important. And when it comes to the metaverse, there are three things Dhaliwal says people should know.
First, it’s not a fad.
“It’s the culmination of our effort as technologists to date,” said Dhaliwal. “Every new advance and innovation in technology has brought us to this stage. Now it’s just a matter of consumer adoption, which will increase in the coming years.”
Secondly, we can’t let the likes of Meta control what the metaverse will be. Otherwise, it will just be more of the same, delivered differently.
“Similar to what Google has done with the Internet, Facebook will do to the metaverse,” added Dhaliwal. “It’s up to business leaders and consumers to drive what this new frontier will be and how it will operate. People need to educate themselves and play an active role in the development of the metaverse.”
And finally, the metaverse will be the ultimate destination for social discovery.
“Our digital selves will be freed in ways never before thought possible,” explained Dhaliwal. “And we will be able to interact with others in ways never before thought possible.”
As for where Dating Group is heading, Dhaliwal explained, “We are going to use the same systems and principles we’ve used in social discovery to connect people around broader interests. And yes, the metaverse is high on our priority list.”
For content creators, educators, game developers, entrepreneurs, advertisers, and others, the sky is truly the limit within the metaverse.
“Everything that is happening on the Internet, and more, will happen in the metaverse,” added Dhaliwal. “It will be a digitally inspired version of what we experience on Earth but without Earthly limitations.”
But to get there, we must first agree upon what the front door to the metaverse will be. And it’s a space race between Meta and others to create that front door, and that’s why these early days are so important.
Why should consumers be excited about this?
If anything, the pandemic has given us a small taste of what is possible when it comes to our digital lives. Entire enterprises have woken to the reality that physical borders and traditional offices are antiquated constructs for many industries.
Digital nomads, telehealth professionals, coaches, consultants and creators are just a few of the people finding new freedoms because of digital transformation. The metaverse will take this to new heights.
“The metaverse offers immense potential to revolutionize our lifestyles and how we communicate, transact business and play,” says Dhaliwal.
“One of the metaverse’s key benefits is presence, which is a sense that you’re physically engaging with places and people instead of watching them through a window. For example, gathering your co-workers around a virtual table will feel more natural than, let’s say, Zoom.”
The metaverse is an open frontier, which makes it extremely exciting for entrepreneurs and consumers alike. But it is still conceptual and the race has just begun. And that’s why now is the time for more people to understand it, contribute to it and guide its growth.