Facebook changes its corporate name to Meta. What will it mean to SMBs?

Daniel

Damiel Forman
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The social media giant attempts to change the conversation and focus on the future

Never in short supply of speculation and controversy, Facebook has been all over the news lately, with the flames of allegation that the company places its own interests over public safety and civil discourse being fanned by whistleblowers, outspoken company insiders and the media at large. Last week, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook, Inc. (hich owns and operates Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, along with its flagship platform) will henceforth be known as Meta Platforms, Inc. Or, more colloquially, simply as Meta.  

Facebook into the “metaverse”

With his sights on claiming the “metaverse” – Zuckerberg’s catch-all term for his vision of an impending cultural and technological shift to AR/VR interactions as a “successor to the mobile internet” – Facebook is arguably trying to shift attention away from all the negative press. But then again, a corporation as lofty and globally important as Facebook (and let’s face it, there are only a relative few) doesn’t simply veer course on a whim. While the timing may or may not be coincidental, Zuckerberg’s announcement last week in a video appearance at the company’s annual Connect conference comes at a moment when speculation about where Facebook is headed is loud. Even if we set political issues aside, the future of the social media giant cannot bank on cute animal videos and celebrity memes to keep a viable audience in place as competitors like TikTok increasingly gain an edge in defining social media trends. But in the shorter term, Zuckerberg’s plans appear to have more to do with investment, research and development in emerging 3D and VR hardware technologies, without which there can be no real evolution in terms of a mass shift toward new trends, regardless of who gets first dibs on marketing new ideas.  

A platform by any other name…

With an estimated 2.9 billion users worldwide, no one is going to mistake Facebook’s rebranded platform as being a new social media player on the block. All controversies aside, Facebook remains a household name. It’s to be expected that whatever decision is made in terms of a new image or packaging for the platform and its marketing services may entail, Facebook’s makeover won’t be shrouded in secrecy. In other words, you’re not going to wake up one day and wonder what that new app on your phone is, and where Facebook went. A shift this seismic will be accompanied by a PR campaign that, in terms of Empower’s own marketing and advertising expertise, we can’t wait to watch unfold.  

Navigating the metaverse

Okay, we’re going to have to get used to that word, admittedly. It certainly sounds futuristic and bold, but we’d be lying if we said it didn’t also sound like it has something to do with the next Marvel movie. That said, 25 years ago, we talked about “the information superhighway”, the “World Wide Web” was merely a buzzword, and the words “social media platform” meant absolutely nothing when used in together as a phrase. While these speculations are still far from being part of our digital day-to-day, the future is nigh, and Meta intends to be on the cutting edge of how users engage with new tech as it becomes readily available, and indeed to help forge the path for the new roles VR tech will play in our lives. The possibilities for small businesses in terms of getting in on the ground floor alongside the big tech companies – however things play out – are exciting. Empower, as always, will be growing our expertise in real time to meet the demands of the future.  

Nothing to hide

While controversies abound about regulation, its recent global outage, and whistleblower claims that the Facebook is more interested in growth than public safety, these are complex matters that take time to understand and solve, no matter how often we seem to read about the latest potential scandal or internal conflict. Despite it all, Facebook remains one of the most popular platforms for small businesses to reach their target audience. The average Facebook user (whatever their socio-political interests may be) is still, as of this date, browsing their newsfeed and looking for content that applies to their lives. Empower is always examining how our clients can best take advantage of Facebook’s platform to meet their own marketing requirements.  

Age is just a number

Facebook’s reputation for being a platform the younger demographic, true or not, has affected its image. While there’s no doubt that younger users flock with greater frequency to platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Facebook’s younger audience is still present, if perhaps more as lurkers than active participants There are two things to consider before jumping to any conclusions about the future of the youth market on Facebook. The first, quite logically, is that today’s youth are tomorrow’s adult audience, and that the any of the platforms that suit them today must either evolve or perish. And as we know, despite commonly accepted opinions, Facebook isn’t going anywhere. The second is that eventually, the model Meta is seeking to carve its influence with may well bolster the corporation and its existing platforms’ currency with younger users, particularly as new technologies become the standard. People of all ages will always be looking for the latest trends and ways to be entertained, informed, and engaged by services and products they want to learn about. Facebook has nothing to lose and everything to gain by rebranding. As the company reaches new maturity, rapidly approaching the beginning of a third decade in the public consciousness, growing pains aren’t just to be expected: they are a sign of life.  

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