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Meta Showcases New VR Building Tools, Which Will Facilitate Customized, Personalized VR Environments

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Meta Showcases New VR Building Tools, Which Will Facilitate Customized, Personalized VR Environments

Meta’s Horizon VR project is, in Mark Zuckerberg’s own words, core to its metaverse vision, offering the capacity to not only engage in wholly immersive digital spaces, but to also create your own, entirely new, interactive 3D environments, customized to your preferences, which could truly be a game-changing shift for VR interactivity.

But that’s no easy task. Creating objects in VR generally requires in-depth knowledge of design and 3D modeling, and there’s no simple way to build your own, custom VR space which you could then invite others to join.

Or at least, there hasn’t been till now. Check out this new demo of Meta’s in-development ‘Builder Bot’ process for Horizon Worlds.

Pretty amazing right? Meta is essentially building a VR construction process that won’t require any coding or design knowledge, or even any manual manipulation via 3D apps and tools. You’ll literally be able to speak things you want to see into existence.

There are obviously limitations to this. More specific placement and customization likely won’t be possible via simple commands, while it’s also restricted by Meta’s voice-to-object recognition capacity, and the pre-built 3D objects that Meta has available in its system.

But Meta’s also developing on these aspects as well.

On speech recognition, Meta’s new CAIRaoke project will eventually provide more capacity for contextual understanding and translation in speech, which could help it build a more inclusive, comprehensive data set for object matching within its Builder Bot process.

In terms of available objects, Meta’s also developing improved 3D scanning tools, which, thus far, have primarily been focused on expanding its eCommerce listings, by providing virtual displays of items, in their real-world dimensions, to add more context for shoppers.

As this initiative expands, you can imagine how Meta could eventually build a massive corpus of 3D objects, which could then be integrated into this new VR environment.

Essentially, the system would provide Meta with a double bonus – not only would it expand its available dataset of 3D furniture objects for display with its eCommerce listings and recommendations, but it would also facilitate a never-ending range of product additions for Horizon Worlds, which would then enable truly customized VR spaces.

When Meta talks about the metaverse not being built by any one company, I suspect this is what it’s talking about – through custom, branded worlds, businesses will eventually be able to create their own, fully immersive product and display environments, which will enable all new experiences with their offerings, and all new opportunities for marketing and customer engagement.

Though Meta, in the end, will be the one hosting the party, the one facilitating that connection – so the metaverse, as such, would be owned by Meta, but the experiences built within it will be constructed by many people, businesses and other organizations.

But in this scenario, Meta is the key facilitator, the key platform for next-level connection.

And you can see the appeal, it’s not hard to imagine some amazing new worlds being created within this space.

In some ways, it’s similar to Minecraft’s Partner Program for developers, which has lead to some of the most interesting re-purposes of the game’s mechanics, fueling all-new uses of the app, and launching development careers for many creators. Indeed, last year, Microsoft reported that the Minecraft Marketplace, which is made up of user mods and additions, had generated over $350 million thus far for the company, and with around 50% of that revenue going back to creators, it’s a powerful, valuable ecosystem for the game, and a key reason for its enduring popularity and success.

It’s also a strong signal for the potential of Meta’s VR building tools. Younger audiences are already well accustomed to building in such environments, and engaging in these new worlds, and it’s this demographic that Meta will be targeting with the next stage of its VR functionalities.

You could further add in its SLAM digital art tools to its VR building process, which enable creators to digitally ‘paint’ interactive works, and NFT content displays, potentially, which are currently being tested in Instagram. Put all of these together and you can see how Meta is evolving towards the next stage of VR connection, and how brands and businesses will eventually be able to build their own worlds within this space, fully aligned to their products and creations, and wholly developed with a view to integrating eCommerce, promotion, interaction and more.

All of this is not possible yet, and many companies seeking to jump on board the metaverse bandwagon right now are largely missing the point. But the next stage is coming, and it’s becoming clearer every day.

And if you think Meta won’t be winning, and won’t be a central player, if not the central player in that process, you too could be missing the broader context.  


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Elon Musk Says That Twitter Will Continue to Offer Free API Access to Good Bot Accounts

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

It’s honestly difficult to make any assessment of Elon Musk’s time in charge of Twitter as yet, because while he has made some bad decisions, he’s also reversed course on most of them, and while he continues to try things that seemingly have no chance of working out, he’s also not taking past precedent as definitive.

Which is maybe a good thing?

In the latest example of Musk’s shoot first, ask questions later management style, Elon has seemingly reversed the unpopular decision to charge for all usage of Twitter’s API, at least in some applications

As per Elon’s tweet, Twitter will continue to allow ‘bots providing good content’ to access Twitter’s API for free, which looked set to be one of the key losses of Twitter’s recent decision to paywall all API access.

Though much of the angst in this case came down to poor communication – last week, Twitter announced that, starting February 9th, it would be cutting off free access to its API, which is the key connector that many third party apps and Twitter’s bots use to function.

That triggered a strong response from the developer community, though a day later, Elon further explained that:

This wasn’t an official announcement, nor was it communicated via the Twitter Developers account. This was Elon, in an exchange with another user, randomly providing valuable context that would have avoided much of the angst and concern that came with the original Twitter Dev statement.

Now, the bigger question is whether $100 is any disincentive to spammers, who likely make way more than that from bot activity. But regardless, $100 is likely affordable for most of the third-party apps which looked set to lose the most from this update in policy, so it’s actually nowhere near as bad as the first announcement seemed.

It’s just bad communication, and given that Twitter no longer has a comms department, that makes sense.

But it’s also the perfect microcosm of the Elon experience, which he both benefits and suffers from, though maybe not in equal measure.

The key thing to note is that Elon loves attention. His one undisputable skill is that he knows how to make headlines, how to get people looking his way, which is why his main money maker, Tesla, has never needed a comms department either. They just let Elon say whatever he likes, good or bad, and the press comes running – and in this respect, you can see how his approach to such announcements at Twitter actually helps them get wider coverage and awareness, as opposed to them being outlined through regular channels.

But is that a good thing? Getting the developer community offside seems like unnecessary collateral damage, while the negativity this creates also seems less conducive to functional working arrangements with external partners and suppliers.

It seems like that could be harmful for his companies, long term – but then again, the more transparent nature of such, and his willingness to change course in a responsive way, could also be beneficial. Maybe?

Essentially, what we’re getting with Twitter 2.0 is a window into Elon Musk’s ‘hardcore’ management style, which is not entirely reliant on internal debate and decision-making, and also takes into account audience response, and factors that into its process.

Which is actually, probably, better, at least in some ways. I mean, Twitter, in times past, took months, even years to gain any traction on updates, before rolling them out, then it was forced to stick with them, even if they were unpopular, due to the amount of time invested.

With 70% fewer staff, Musk doesn’t have that luxury, but he has repeatedly shown a willingness to listen to the case for and against each update, and shift tack accordingly.

So while he has made some bad decisions, and will continue to do so, Twitter is moving fast. It’s breaking things too, but it’s still running, and Musk seems confident that he can convert it into a revenue positive business sometime soon.

And now, your weather bots, your system updates, your automated accounts that let you know what you want via tweet, will continue to operate. Unless Elon changes his mind again.



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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

The shopping app proves that consumer confidence and community are key to a thriving business post-Covid, writes Michaela Zhu of Emerging Communications.

Little Red Book, aka Xiaohongshu, or more simply ‘Red’, is a leading Chinese social shopping app. With over 300 million users (and counting), western brands are taking notice – and with good reason.

Little Red Book first appeared in 2013. From modest beginnings focussing on female beauty products, the app expanded to help all kinds of global brands connect with Chinese consumers. Whether it’s holiday inspiration, university choices or luxury fashion, Little Red Book is now the go-to app for lifestyle content and shopping.

With a unique mix of social sharing, long-form articles, live-streaming and e-commerce, it’s a vital part of the Chinese social media landscape. What’s more: Little Red Book is the place for interacting with Chinese gen Z and millennial audiences. In July 2022, nearly 30% of Little Red Book’s active users were under 24 years. Another 40% of users fall into the 25-35 age bracket.

Discover how Little Red Book has transformed over the last few years, key trends, and how to integrate them into your China digital strategy.

How Little Red Book is changing post-Covid China

By 2019, Little Red Book attracted over 200 million users. Fast forward nearly four years, and the platform has maintained its grip on affluent Chinese consumers. It’s one of the few social media platforms where growth still exceeds 30% year-on-year. Little Red Book is here to stay, and in a big way.

This user growth has brought significant changes in content, especially as Chinese consumers adapt to post-pandemic life. Gone are the days when Little Red Book catered exclusively to beauty and fashion niches. Instead, people use the platform to make significant life decisions as well as day-to-day purchases. With content on entering high school, getting married and buying property (to name just a few), you’ll find almost every aspect of daily life up for discussion.

While the relaxing of Covid restrictions has brought drastic changes alongside feelings of liberation, there’s understandable uncertainty among Chinese Gen Z. Long-term lockdown life caused younger generations to pay close attention to their immediate environment. There’s a focus on simplifying their lives and recycling items, as well as yearning for distant places and global cuisines.

A related trend for Little Red Book is the growing Chinese travel industry. Unsurprisingly, the recent easing of travel restrictions resulted in a travel bonanza. For example, two billion trips are expected during this Lunar New Year period. These figures are nearly double the previous year’s and represent a 70% recovery on 2019 levels.

China branding: two essential trends

For content marketing in China, there are two major Little Red Book trends that any marketer needs to know. These are the recent surge in travel-related content and the shift toward new minimalism and ‘rational consumption’.

1. Exploring opportunities for the travel sector

With China’s international borders reopening, travel is no longer a far-away dream. Many Chinese visited their nation’s most popular cities during the pandemic years. Others opted for secluded opulence, spawning the growth of glamping as a trend. Indeed, this luxury camping culture saw ‘glamping’ searches on Little Red book increase by 746% during 2022.

In 2023, foreign countries are also a possibility. As a result, nearby destinations such as Tibet and Southeast Asia predict a strong rebound in the coming months.

Global brands such as Marriott Bonvoy are already capitalizing on these trends, hitting the mark with their China marketing campaigns. For instance, the 2021 Power of Travel campaign used 10 Chinese key opinion leaders to show how travel inspired their lives.

With influencers including Chinese gen Z creatives, families and business executives – the brand showed their relevance to the China market as well as inspiration for rediscovering ourselves through post-Covid travel.

2. Embracing minimalist and rational consumption

In the aftermath of an unprecedented pandemic and global economic downturns, people all over the world are simplifying and streamlining their daily lives.

China is no different, and its younger population has particularly embraced a minimalist mindset. This doesn’t mean stopping purchases completely, but instead shows a shift towards ‘rational consumption’.

Young people are especially shunning impulse purchase decisions, resulting in a decline in ‘hard selling’ and live broadcast sales events. This trend has worked in Little Red Book’s favor due to the platform’s focus on in-depth consumer reviews and trusted user-generated content. Put simply, it’s all about building confidence and community before purchases take place.

For more in-depth insights into Chinese social media trends, download our guide to getting started with Little Red Book.

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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