Metavers

5 lessons from the early internet

5 lessons from the early internet
Written by Publishing Team

As the metaverse divides critics who argue over whether it’s the future or just another passing fad, I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen this all before.

In the late ’90s, I worked at a PR firm, representing internet-only brands such as TheStreet.com and CDnow as well as legacy brands looking to make it big online like BMG and MTV. I went on to become the MTV Networks’ Online Vice President of Communications, where I oversaw PR for the online destinations of MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon. These years combined excitement and opportunity with confusion and frenzy.

Fast forward 20 years, and I see some clear lessons learned that CEOs can apply to the new frontier: the metaverse.

1. THE METAVERSE ISN’T GOING AWAY

Back then, there were organizations that were dismissive of the internet, particularly in the early years. But everyone eventually got on board. The few CEOs that failed to see the wave of change coming and embrace the internet set their brands (and careers) back years, if not indefinitely.

While a digital presence is a no-brainer today, the same appears to be true for the metaverse tomorrow. Not convinced? Facebook—now Meta—staked its hundred-billion dollar brand on it. Don’t write this off as a trend.

2. START LEARNING ABOUT THE METAVERSE TODAY

If the metaverse is here to stay, the next order of business is to get up to speed. While many of the brands my firm works with are already involved in creating NFTs, leveraging cryptocurrency, and developing innovative virtual experiences, many companies—and entire industries for that matter—are unfamiliar with the metaverse.

Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 brand or a startup, you need to understand the metaverse—what it is, how it works, and how people are engaging with it. Treat this time as a learning experience. We follow TIME’s Into the Metaverse newsletter and Fast Company’s coverage including surveys of business leaders and experts on what’s next. Publications like CoinDesk and CoinTelegraph were some of the first to report on cryptocurrency and NFTs in-depth.

3. IT’S OK TO START SMALL

Even if you’re ready to launch your brand in the metaverse tomorrow, the truth is that much of the landscape is still taking shape. Similar to the early days of the internet, there are different platforms and players. For example, there isn’t a single metaverse, but instead several different platforms, including Decentraland, Sandbox, Roblox, and Stageverse. Just like you didn’t have to take your business entirely online on one day of the internet in the ’90s, you don’t have to go all-in on the metaverse today.

It’s okay to take your time. Learn about what’s available. Start laying the foundation for your long-term goals. Fashion retailers, for example, like Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Nike, and Adidas have begun selling NFTs or filing trademark applications for virtual products. Now is the time to get the conversation started. Consider what makes sense for your brand, what your industry is doing and what your audience is expecting.

4. DON’T TREAT THE METAVERSE AS A SILO

Avoid a segmented strategy. Having led the PR effort for an “internet division” myself, I can say this is the wrong approach. Just like the internet, the metaverse, AR, VR, and NFTs are eventually going to permeate every aspect of business, consumer, and social life.

Instead of designating a metaverse expert within my team, I’ve encouraged every writer and account manager of my PR firm to familiarize themselves with the area as they encounter it—coming up with creative campaigns, weaving it into thought leadership, and incorporating it into leadership timely pitches.

5. DIVE IN AND GET FAMILIAR WITH THE METAVERSE (YES YOU!)

I remember one meeting during my time at a PR firm with an online retail brand we represented; they asked if we saw their holiday promotion. Many of us didn’t know how to answer because we had never visited their website—some had never visited any website. It was that early on in the days of the internet!

You can’t talk about, write about, promote, or leverage the metaverse if you’ve never personally experienced it. Order a VR headset, start a crypto wallet, create your avatar, and start exploring.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Depending on who you are, the metaverse may sound like a daunting concept, a trivial fad, or an exciting new frontier. But take it from someone who learned from the early days of the internet—the metaverse is likely going to become a bigger and bigger part of our work and personal lives. Start getting familiar with the metaverse today and you’re more likely to be ahead of the curve than playing catch-up with competitors.


Mark Pasetsky is the founder & CEO of PR agency Mark Allen & Co., where he serves as a trusted advisor to top C-suite executives.

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Publishing Team