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Analysis: How can the VR/AR community bring in new people?


Let’s talk about where people in VR/AR hang out, with their pros and cons. I’ve been thinking about the topic because the community is passionate to bring in new people who may be interested in immersive tech, sharing the love. Marketing-wise, people may be drawn into particular communities – but some have their drawbacks. 

For instance, Twitter is full of well-meaning VR and AR professionals, but they share the same space as incredibly polarising political views and incessant shouting. Twitter’s growth is slowing, likely because figures like Trump have left the platform and its lack of appeal for younger generations. The platform is a powerful way to maintain a community and connect with people, but it’s difficult to bring new people in over the long-term. But ultimately Twitter is an arena for politics, lacking the tools to help reach new people. And as someone who follows the immersive sphere closely, I dislike passively absorbing the toxicity of my feed each day. 

Then there is LinkedIn; a powerful tool for building connections, but feels disingenuous at times. Some professionals tag others to trick the algorithm to extend their post’s reach, even if the content does not relate to the tagged. The cluttering of hashtags makes posts look messy and near unreadable, as blobs of blue suffocate the information between words and phrases. It is better than Twitter as it genuinely leads to new business and leads, but LinkedIn personas tend to be very different from real life, and I am unsure how much I can trust the stories on the feed. And arguably, not everyone who is interested in VR/AR will be checking their LinkedIn every day.

I like YouTube a lot, and based on my data a huge number of people use the site to find new content. The pro of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is that it helps new businesses reach new audiences if they use the right keywords, getting more eyes on their work. It works, too; the VR YouTubers of the world help to push interest in products and services effectively. The difficulty is retaining an audience, as building subscribers takes time and effort.

Also, YouTube Shorts is somewhat breaking the system by accruing lots of views in a short space of time. I am running an experiment on my channel where I post videos each day with slightly different keywords, with zero promotion, to see its impact. (In fact, this is the first time I am mentioning it publically.) Results are sporadic; some videos get zero views, while others reach over 700 within 24 hours. I will iterate on this over the next few months and keep you all updated. 

That leaves Discord and Facebook Groups. I place them together because community-building is the best way to ally people to your service, if the group is set up properly. If it is based around an interest area/platform, such as Unity, it thrives. If a company posts helpful content over time, without pushing services too often, they will see genuine leads build up over time. The benefit of Facebook’s system is that groups can be recommended to users over time based on their interests. 

My view on all of this is that I want the industry to keep pushing forwards and organically growing by welcoming people into the fold. The bulk of the magic is happening on YouTube, while Twitter and LinkedIn are the realms of the established professionals. If you want to get more eyes on your service, consider making a content marketing plan that incorporates the former while contributing to the latter.