Exploring the Metaverse for Community Building

Last year, I teamed up with some fantastic colleagues from the University of Auckland Technology Hub to create a module on metaverse marketing for our MBM Digital Marketing Strategy course. The project caught the eye of the educational community, and I’m happy to share that it has been featured as an exemplar in the just-published 2023 Teaching and Learning Horizon Report!

In this blog post, I’ll cover some of the key points the report touched upon, and share insights for educators curious about introducing similar projects in their courses.

AI and Metaverse in the Classroom

The initiative revolved around two focal points: examining AI applications in marketing and tapping into the metaverse for community building, all while working with one of New Zealand’s iconic brands, Ecostore.

a) First, we explored the practical application of AI such as Copy.ai in conjunction with other digital marketing platforms, using Ecostore as our reference point. The students were tasked with creating engaging content for the client’s social media platform. The process was as follows:

Step 1: Students used the social listening tools such as Social Searcher and AnswerThePublic to 1) monitor the client’s public social mentions, and 2) collate trending questions and keywords associated with Ecostore’s product and services, focusing specifically on those relevant to the company’s target audience.

Step 2: Students identified a relevant hashtag, setting the theme and direction of the content.

Step 3: With these trending questions and keywords, they moved onto Copy.ai to generate captions for social media.

Step 4: Finally, the students generated AI-powered images using the Dream app by WOMBO that visually encapsulated the message, creating a cohesive piece of content.

b) Students then dove into the metaverse using Spatial.io to discover how Ecostore could benefit from the platform for community building or events. Before the adrenaline-pumping VR session at the University’s Technology Hub, students opened a Spatial account, prepared a PPT slide introducing a Digital Human designed to act as a virtual representative for Ecostore’s brand within the Spatial platform, and created a video avatar and a welcome message using HeyGen, an AI video generator. Afterward, they uploaded their presentations to Spatial.

At the Technology Hub, students participated in a range of activities that offered both practical and theoretical insights into metaverse marketing. They initiated their journey with Spatial using Oculus, continued to a short lecture on metaverse marketing, and had the opportunity to visit Dyson’s virtual reality store. Furthermore, students took on the task of creating a community space for Ecostore on Spatial, which included presenting their Digital Humans and welcome videos. To cap off their immersive learning experience, students evaluated the potential of using the metaverse for Ecostore.

Aligning the Project with the Course’s Learning Objectives

The project was directly linked to one of the key learning outcomes of the course, emphasizing the importance of ethical practices and innovative digital advancements in uncovering new opportunities in digital marketing.

The students were given the unique opportunity to collaborate directly with a local New Zealand business, formulating a data-informed and actionable digital marketing campaign. As part of this process, they got firsthand experience with disruptive digital technologies such as AR, AI, and metaverse to assess their application in marketing.

This project successfully aligned with two main focus areas highlighted in the University of Auckland’s strategic plan for 2025:

  1. To “become a highly valued partner of choice for the world’s leading organisations and industries.”
  2. To “review the University Graduate Profile to ensure that it is current, ‘fit-for-purpose’, and gives clear expression to the full range of the University’s values and graduate capabilities”. Embedding future-ready employability attributes and cutting-edge technology in the course allowed students to build a portfolio of industry-related experiences and gain a competitive edge.

Join the conversation

As we continue to explore new ways to inspire the next generation of marketing professionals, I invite you to join the conversation and look forward to hearing your insights! Here is the information that was provided to students on Canvas, which includes the tasks they were required to complete before attending the class.

Connect and engage

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.