e.l.f. Beauty on Influencer Marketing in the Metaverse

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Innovation and experimentation may come to mind when you think about e.l.f Beauty. Over the past couple of years, it has dove head-first into creative and cutting-edge ideas. For example, it was the first beauty brand to get on Twitch, it launched creative partnerships with non-beauty brands (Dunkin’ Donuts), and it was one of the first beauty brands to launch an NFT (non-fungible token). 

What’s made e.l.f Beauty so successful in these ventures is that it promotes a culture of “failing fast”. So what’s the next stop for e.l.f. Beauty (and the influencer marketing world at large)? The metaverse. 

Below, Lauren Thermos, senior director of global and integrated marketing at e.l.f. Beauty, talks about what the metaverse is, why you should care, and how you can start embedding it into your influencer marketing programs.

You can also watch Lauren’s full video where she talks about exploring influencer marketing in the Metaverse. 

WTF is the metaverse? 

66% of marketers who attended Lauren’s talk said they had not experimented with the metaverse. There is a lot to unpack when it comes to what the metaverse actually is, so let’s start with what the metaverse is not. 

metaverse ≠ Web 3

  • What it is: ‘Web 3’ is the infrastructure, commonly referred to as ‘blockchain’ that virtual worlds can be built on. 
  • Why it’s not the metaverse: Web 3.0 & the metaverse are not mutually exclusive, meaning you can have Web 3 without the metaverse and vice versa. 

metaverse ≠ gaming

  • What it is: A video game or computer game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device.
  • Why it’s not the metaverse: Gaming is the activity you can do within the metaverse, but it’s not the only thing you can do. You can think of gaming as a possible activity that can be done in the metaverse. 

metaverse ≠ Virtual Reality (VR)

  • What it is: A simulated three-dimensional experience that can be like or completed differently from the real world. Unlike other forms of media, users can interact with VR environments in a “real” way.
  • Why it’s not the metaverse: VR is a way of interfacing with the metaverse. If the metaverse is a plethora of experiences (games, travel and tourism experiences, remote working features, etc) then VR is the tool you use to access it.

“The metaverse is truly best seen as an umbrella housing multiple virtual worlds. Web 3, gaming, and VR should be seen as synonyms because they are actually distinct components of the metaverse.” – Lauren Thermos, Senior Director, Global & US Integrated Marketing, e.l.f. Beauty 

Okay, we now know what the metaverse is not, so what is the metaverse? Lauren’s definition states that the metaverse is one or more virtual worlds linked together into a perceived virtual universe

Here are some of the virtual worlds that you might find in the metaverse, by platform: 

  • Virtual environments like Horizon Worlds, Sandbox or Microsoft 
  • Gaming like Nintendo, Epic Games or XBox
  • Social like TikTok, Twitch, Discord and (of course) Meta
  • NFT & Crypto like OpenSea, Coinbase and Gemini

Good news: if your brand is on a social media platform, you’re in the metaverse! The next step is to figure out how to link each of your virtual worlds together so there is a cohesive experience (or universe!), and experiment with ways to help your consumer easily interact with your brand in these spaces. 

Influencer marketing in the metaverse

“The metaverse cannot exist without a community.” – Lauren Thermos, Senior Director, Global & US Integrated Marketing, e.l.f. Beauty 

When it comes to bringing your influencer marketing programs into the metaverse, it’s important to keep a consumer-first mindset. Is your audience currently in the metaverse? If so, how are they interacting in these spaces? 

Lauren and her team asked various questions when experimenting with the metaverse including,

  • What’s in it for our audience? What value are we offering them? 
  • How can we connect our audience with each other in our community?
  • How can we bridge the virtual world with the real world? 

They also made sure to have 1:1 conversations with their community, so they could really make sure that their understanding of the metaverse’s possible value was accurate. This research and discovery phase gave them the confidence they needed to test a few different metaverse worlds (Twitch, NFTs, etc.), with the intention of just seeing how their community would react. 

Remember: fail fast! Sometimes you need to move quickly into experimentation so you can gather actual data points about how your audience responds to a new strategy.

Since these initial tests, Lauren and her team have moved into the second phase: evaluation. They are evaluating:

  • What return the business actually saw from each experiment
  • How they can connect all the different virtual worlds into one big ecosystem
  • How each of these virtual worlds – and eventually the metaverse ecosystem – could actually make their customer’s lives easier and impact shopping behaviors

Communicating with creators about the metaverse

A big step of the journey towards incorporating the metaverse into your influencer marketing program is figuring out how to communicate its value to creators

For creators, there are endless opportunities in the metaverse. Brands can help unleash those opportunities by understanding how their metaverse program will add value to your creator and bring them along the journey. 

Find influencers who can support your program where it’s at.

If you are starting to build out your programs and need expert partners, consider looking for creators who have a deep knowledge of the metaverse. Find influencers who have invested in NFTs or who are frequently talking about VR and gaming on social. 

Broaden your scope if your program is more sophisticated and you feel confident that you can educate your partners. Just know that there will always be a barrier to entry when adopting new technology, so you will need to invest in educating creators who are new to the metaverse. As Lauren put it, “there is something to be said about the vulnerability of learning something new together”!

Create lasting metaverse programs 

The best marketing programs are those that have a long-term vision. Go back to those grounding questions that helps you clearly define the value of these programs for your customers and what impact it can have for your business. You want to craft programs that act as systems and have longevity in your community. 

Brands who are doing a good job of this in the metaverse include, 

If you are wanting to deepen your knowledge of the metaverse, Lauren recommends focusing on these 4 areas: 

  • Define the metaverse: Continue to look up definitions of what the metaverse is 
  • Understand your community: How is your audience interacting with crypto, gaming, VR and social media? 
  • Learn about NFTs: Learn about their functionality and the technology that operates them.
  • Learn from those others: Continue researching by going on to places like Twitter and finding creators and thought leaders in the metaverse space. NFT Now is another great starting place!

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