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Blog Image April 17, 2020

Creating Spaces in The Metaverse With Social Distancing Tools for The Multifamily Industry

The multifamily industry has become more attuned to technology trends over the past few years. From email marketing to social media efforts, savvy apartment marketers, who hope to take their digital strategies to the next level have spent years tailoring online messages that cater to modern renters. Yet, what many multifamily professionals may not realize is that we’re standing at the precipice of a new era of online interactions — one that will be marked by an increased interest in the “metaverse.”

The metaverse is a collective and virtual space, typically used to describe a future iteration of the Internet, which is composed of shared, three-dimensional communities. It was predicted to be popular amongst online users in upcoming years. Now, this has become even more of a certainty due to COVID-19, an infectious respiratory illness that has caused many Americans to self-isolate in their homes, in order to minimize their (and others’) risk of infection.

With this life-threatening disease in our midst, the need for these types of online spaces is imminent, not eventual, as our society is forced to rethink how we gather, socialize, and work with others. In lieu of face-to-face interaction, people are turning to virtual apps to connect with their family members, friends, and coworkers. Now more than ever, apartment communities must prepare themselves for the popularization of the metaverse, especially if they hope to keep prospects and residents engaged during these next few weeks and beyond.

Despite their recent surge in popularity, virtual spaces are nothing new. Ever since the early days, they have offered a way for people to commune online. Maybe, you grew up chatting in AOL or Yahoo! chatrooms, or perhaps, you thrived in the LiveJournal or MySpace communities. You might have also enjoyed (and still enjoy) playing video games, a global pastime that has only amplified the need for online spaces.

For years, video game enthusiasts have found ways to gather online, whether through digital messaging channels, like Discord and Google Hangouts, or within certain games themselves. Open-world games, such as Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox, have created digital spaces for Millennial and Gen-Z gamers to go beyond the chatroom and enter the metaverse – where they can socialize with friends and acquaintances, similar to how they would in any physical, shared space, like a restaurant or movie theatre.

Tech developers and analysts have been waiting for the metaverse phenomenon to catch on for quite a while. To them, these virtual worlds will usher in the next era of social media . Even without the onset of COVID-19, it was inevitable that Internet users would eventually move on from 2D apps centered on posting content to VR-inspired applications, where users can interact within their own virtual world.

For proof, look to Facebook and Snapchat, which have already begun to incorporate visual worlds and social games into their platforms—simply waiting for social media users to catch on to the trend. Other apps are also redefining what it means to work online. Businesses are turning to Zoom to connect with employees through interactive video chatrooms. Many have also been utilizing WhatsApp, a popular cross-messaging app that combines traditional texting with voice notes, document sharing capabilities, and video streaming.

If your multifamily community is hoping to amp up your online leasing and unit tour efforts during this unprecedented time, while boosting co-living features and overall connectivity, you must begin to embrace the concept of the metaverse and its shared online spaces. You’ll need them more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has motivated more online users to seek out ways to stay connected while successfully practicing social distancing.

What does this look like for our sector, exactly? Well, it starts with implementing technology that encourages social distancing recommendations, such as live streaming apartment tours , bot-to-human interactions, and Internet gathering spaces that extend beyond the typical resident portal’s resources and capabilities. Adapting to this important cultural shift doesn’t require any fancy equipment, like a VR headset, either — just a solid Internet connection and the right third-party services, which can help your company thrive in a hyper-realistic, digital space.

As COVID-19 continues to change how we conduct our daily lives, multifamily professionals are faced with a unique opportunity to put into motion ideas that were—until recently—put on the back burner. With the power of the Internet, we can present residents, prospects, and business partners with the virtual spaces and tools needed to replace our usual types of interpersonal touch points. Invest in the metaverse’s numerous digital channels, which are growing daily, and you’ll cater to prospects and residents’ needs, while advancing your own business goals during a period of social uncertainty and economic hardship.

About The Author

Jimmy Lancaster is one of the most well-known engineers on the Silicon Bayou, specializing in custom software development. He is the Chief Product Officer of 365 Connect, the leader in delivering the world's most sophisticated automated marketing, leasing, and resident engagement platform for multifamily communities across the globe.

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