As you have probably heard in the past month, a leak of internal documents has now placed Facebook in a huge crisis as the company was strongly criticized for the way it manages complex and impactful topics.
Internal employees accused Facebook of caring only about its image and profit, and kept its eyes closed regarding delicate issues that were happening on the platform.
And then, out of nowhere and in the wake of all this mess, Mark Zuckerberg announced a huge rebranding for Facebook. From now on, the company is going to be called “Meta”.
In its video launch, Meta presented the “Metaverse”.
While we waited for answers, the announcement of the rebrand only brought more questions:
What’s the point of this rebrand? Is Zuckerberg really the pioneer in bringing the Metaverse to the internet?
Could Meta really have a massive impact on the future of the internet?
And, most of all, how might this crisis affect us, marketers and managers who depend on Zuckerberg’s platforms to generate our own results?
Avoid the mess and focus on the Metaverse
While it wasn’t clear how the rebrand would actually help users with the issues raised in the Facebook Papers, Zuckerberg was determined to build a positive and technological image around the new brand.
What we know so far about Meta: the new brand will be more closely tied to artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality, leading to another level of interaction between humans and social technologies.
The rebrand arrived quickly: there’s a new logo and this has already been implemented into the apps by Meta, including WhatsApp and Instagram.
Metaverse can be seen as the next generation of immersive internet. For Meta, this means that the change also leads to the evolution of products, since they are getting into a whole new reality.
With Metaverse, users could enter a virtual world where they would be able to create avatars, chat, meet friends, purchase virtual stuff with cryptocurrency, and so on….
But before we talk about what this Metaverse is and if (or how) this impacts your brand, let’s take a step back.
Is Metaverse an innovation created in 2021?
The answer is no: Facebook was not the first to merge Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (VR/AR).
If we look back at our interactions with the technologies that we have available, AI, VR and AR have been slowly inputted into our daily routine.
We can start by talking about gaming and then personal assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant. We also have AR on Instagram, Google Search and plenty of other possibilities. There are also VR Goggles that are being used in different situations.
But at least was Facebook the first company to explore the Metaverse?
Again, the answer is no. The Metaverse is something that already existed before Meta (Facebook).
In April of this year, Epic Games announced a $1 Billion Funding Round to support Epic’s long-term vision for the Metaverse.
And they are not the only company that’s been on the Metaverse for some time.
Artur Sychov, the founder of Somnium Space (a Metaverse used by more than 1,000 people daily), said to Global News that Facebook seems to be taking the opportunity to insert itself into something that was already happening.
This could be a strategy not only to deviate from the latest events but also to gain market leadership early on so they can be seen as a “pioneer” on the Metaverse. But they are not.
Is Meta an attempt to leave Facebook’s issues behind?
When Meta was announced, Zuckerberg didn’t make any reference to the public relations problems the company was facing.
Now, it seems that Meta (the company) has stopped avoiding the conversation and made some moves, such as announcing plans to remove thousands of sensitive ad-targeting options and implementing warning screens to discourage posts and comments that could be perceived as bullying and harassment.
What we can say for sure is that only the CEO will have the real answer to this question, and we will never know when he is bluffing.
However, even Zuckerberg can’t deny the fact that the company has been going through some intense organizational and operational issues.
The growing discussions around these topics were damaging their credibility due to the complexity of the situation.
They are craving to be the first company in the Metaverse. They are trying to achieve this not only by changing strategies, but by adopting a new brand while the company goes through one of the most serious crises of confidence. This is no coincidence.
What about the users and networks?
In terms of the future of technology and social networks, Meta certainly can lead an evolution. This is especially true when combining the Metaverse technology that has already been developed by other companies over the years, with the powerful influence that Zuckerberg’s platforms still have on society.
This can have an impact on our marketing in the future, too.
The more interactions that take place in a virtual world, the more this might lead to social changes in the future.
People may start spending more time in another reality. Their daily habits, behaviors and consumptions may be impacted, as well.
Another point is the increasing presence of smart devices (IOT), such as watches and other gadgets, which will connect reality with the virtual—and at the same time, collect personal data.
Is it time for you, as a marketer, to start thinking about the Metaverse?
It’s good to be aware of these changes especially when the dialogue frequently centers around these topics.
It’s still too early to say what changes the Metaverse (and Zuckerberg’s other brands) might bring, and how users and consumers will behave in the face of it.
So, here are some possible challenges for marketers and managers in the coming years:
Meta promises to offer a whole new world of virtual possibilities, where people can act exactly how they want inside this new reality. But don’t forget: we still exist outside of it.
Changes in consumer behavior always result in challenges for marketers (especially if we think that consumers will now be present in two different realities).
A new channel means a new possibility for customer acquisition, but it also requires new metrics that, in this case, can be translated into new challenges as well.
Content creation for a new platform is also something that might change. Instead of only blog posts, e-books, and white papers, in the virtual world we will be strongly connected to interactive experiences, whether through AR, VR, or any other source of interactions online.
Interactive content is something that we have been talking about for some time now, and you can learn more here.
How are other companies reacting?
The former Google CEO, Eric Scmidt, expressed on Business Insider a real concern about the increasing use of AI in our daily lives. His concerns are not only referring to security issues, but social issues as well. This is because the digital world can be based on a perfect picture that is not always equal to reality.
Elon Musk is another person who has stated that they don’t trust AI very much. So much so that he doesn’t even rate his confidence in AI for Tesla very highly.
However, Microsoft is on track with the Metaverse, but in a simpler way. They are planning to launch their version of a virtual world inside Teams Meetings in 2022, according to The Verge.
The idea appears simpler. People will be able to have meetings that are more interactive. Meetings where it will be possible to immerse oneself into 3D rooms with avatars that express themselves according to the character of the real person.
With Microsoft getting on board in this new era, we can expect some other players to join the trend very soon as well.
Make the most of this confusion in your strategies
With all these updates regarding Facebook and Meta, it’s up to us as marketers and business owners to keep ourselves up to date on the issues that could positively or negatively impact our brands, and learn from all this situation. What we can conclude is:
1. Social networks have repeatedly proven to be uncertain terrains for the sowing of your company’s seeds.
Yes, having an engaged audience on whichever social media your persona likes to be is a great strategy. However, you need to be careful if your brand fully (or partially) relies on Meta platforms (or even other social platforms).
Consider starting to build an audience on your own platforms, diversifying your content and reaching more people (here at Rock Content, we have several contents to help you with that!).
2. Technology changes. Fast.
Whether early or late, purposely, or just as a matter of coincidence, the Metaverse has been slowly inputted into our daily lives. Whether it’s augmented reality for the camera systems on our smartphones, or the goggles used by companies to create immersive experiences, we are immersed in this type of technology.
Meta was created in a premature market, but we know that the trend is here – and growing. Successful marketers know to keep an eye on market trends.
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