Have you been hearing a lot about how virtual reality will impact the social media experience? Social media’s purpose, in the beginning, was to provide a platform for individuals to express themselves and has evolved as a platform to share your life, buy products, receives news updates, etc. In the early days, individuals expressed themselves through text such through platforms like LiveJournal for example where users literally published their diaries for others to read either under a pseudo name or a real name.
Social media then evolved to more complex platforms such as myspace which included interactions beyond text such as music, custom backgrounds, photos, and of course top friends. Today, users are able to share virtually every aspect of their lives on social media from live videos documenting dangerous situations to text and image-based updates on social events. Today, social media interaction is not unilateral, users receive feedback from other users in the form of likes, emoji reactions, comments, private messages etc. Users also use social media to connect with brands directly and through the use of influencers and the same types of bilateral communication systems apply.
As social media continues to evolve, it is only natural that it continues to create a space where people can get closer through the inter-web space. The logical progression is virtual reality. Virtual reality is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment, that incorporates mainly auditory and visual sensations. With this technology, a best friend who lives far away will potentially be able to be present for important events such as a wedding in a way that was not possible before. Potentially, the best friend would put on VR goggles and audio equipment and would be fully immersed in the wedding environment with the ability to look around and interact with the environment.
The integration of virtual reality into social media will create new and exciting opportunities for many industries. Physical virtual reality equipment will most likely be needed to fully immerse users into the virtual experiences; this will create manufacturing and distribution opportunities for vendors of this equipment. Software development and production will also be needed to implement the use of these experiences. However, the most important opportunity will be the way businesses will interact with their customers through this technology and in parallel, the way influencers interact with their followers. Imagine, for example, the Kardashians charging a fee to be able to virtually walk around their house and try their clothing on via this technology. Or imagine being able to virtually tour a time-share without ever having to give up a single day of your vacation. The possibilities are really endless.
While the possibilities are endless and the use of virtual reality looks closer every day, there are still some roadblocks in the adoption of this technology. Earlier in the article, we explored the business opportunities for manufacturers who produce virtual reality hardware as well as virtual reality software developers. Well, both specialized hardware and software will be a roadblock for users to adopt the technology and will possibly keep the captive audience at a limited size for a period of time.