If there was one takeaway from Facebook’s much-maligned rebranding in October of last year, it was Zuckerberg Inc. telegraphing its determination to corner and monetize the metaverse.
Meta’s first year was a disaster. The company’s share price fell nearly 75%, the Reality Labs division lost $3.7 billion and Horizon Worlds, its flagship virtual reality app, saw a third of users leave since February. Maybe it’s time for a risk-free bet: NFTs on Instagram.
On Nov. 2, Meta announced that Instagram users will soon be able to create, showcase, and sell NFTs (or digital collectibles, as it prefers to call them) on the platform using the speedy Polygon blockchain. and its scalability. In May, Meta gave users the ability to connect their Instagram account to a cryptowallet and share digital collectibles on their profile. Now, the platform has taken an important step to become an NFT marketplace.
First, as part of its annual Creators Week, it tests the feature with a group of crypto artists, including Amber Vittoria, Refik Anadol, Drift, and Diana Sinclair.
The lineup includes Olive Allen, the New York-based digital artist who sold the first NFT at an art fair in 2021 and whose playful depictions of sheep, teddy bears and even herself are trading for tens of thousands on NFT markets.
“The new feature will allow anyone to create NFTs,” Allen told Artnet News. “This will allow artists and content creators to find new ways to connect with their communities; I think this is a step in the right direction towards mass adoption and creation of metaverses.
Meta’s move comes at a curious time for the crypto art movement. No longer solely the domain of niche online communities, NFTs have gone through a period of wild speculation and are now the concern of major museums and galleries. If Meta’s rollout is successful — a move Twitter seems likely to follow — NFTs could become truly mainstream.
Having previously integrated and enhanced e-commerce functionality for vendors, the NFT platform could prove a similar boon for creatives by streamlining the process of generating revenue from subscribers. Over time, Meta also hopes to benefit, although it has announced that it won’t start charging fees to create or sell NFTs until 2024.
“I plan on hitting a small collection,” Allen said. “Most coins will be affordable, so newcomers to NFT can join the community and feel included.” Asked what she thinks about monetizing her Instagram followers, the artist, whose first solo IRL show was at the Postmasters Gallery in May, said it was an honor that would push her to create more unique experiences for its NFT holders.
Allen thinks this first batch of digital collectibles on Instagram might even spark a mini-bounce in the market: “The community is excited about the launch; NFT historians see it as another opportunity to collect firsts.
After a turbulent year, Meta will pray to be right.
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