Meta is running the last leg of its once so-popular social media platform Facebook: Facebook is on its way out.
In 2013 the Facebook CFO already warned of upcoming problems in the Q3 2013 earnings call “We did see a decrease in daily users partly among younger teens. … This is of questionable significance.”
In 2015 I concluded that Facebook, the brand leader of the extensive category social network, will eventually face issues with focused brands taking small bites out of the big pie and capturing users from the leader (link).
The combination of brand decline with the youth (= looking for another brand than Facebook) and new brands coming in (Snapchat, Insta, TikTok, and many more) eventually will lead to the end of Facebook. Facebook is not attracting the youth and grows along with the old.
In 2018 while teaching second-year students, I learned that the Facebook issues were more significant than I had thought: a few of the100 students used Facebook very specifically to browse posts. They did not post anything themselves.
Recently I decided to recheck the Facebook status with a large group of students. The trend has only gotten worse: Facebook is hardly in use with the group <25 years – not even to browse posts.
The generalist category “social network” is disappearing; with it, the brand Facebook will eventually disappear.
The company’s rebranding from Facebook to Meta was a vital move. Under Meta, each product brand can flourish without a link to the fading Facebook brand.
Facebook is making a smart move – rebranding the corporate brand to Meta, linking itself directly to Metaverse while allowing each of the product brands to flourish.
Facebook follows the strategy of Alphabet Inc. Back in 2015, Google implemented the critical principle of brand building: expand your business, not your brand. Google Inc changed its corporate brand from Google to Alphabet – to undo the Google link: “the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.”
Facebook Company was struggling in a similar way, because of the direct link with Facebook the product. The company even made the mistake to bring the company brand Facebook into the UI of Instagram and WhatsApp. Visually showing the Facebook brand impacted clarity of all brands involved- imagine the screens with ‘From Microsoft’ or ‘From Google’.
Not only did the clarity of Instagram and WhatsApp start to dilute, but also that of Facebook and Facebook Company. If a brand tries to be everything to everybody, it will ultimately become nothing to no one.
So on the 28th of October 2021, Facebook “did an Alphabet” – and changed the company name from Facebook Company to Meta. A brilliant move and name. By disconnecting the Company from Facebook it gives all products room to expand. The Meta products:
The name Meta is directly linked to Metaverse – the virtual reality-based successor to the Internet. Perceptually Meta and Metaverse might become the same.
“Metaverse was originally coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world. Stephenson used the term to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the Internet.” (wikipedia)
Under the new corporate brand Meta the company can align all product brands and efforts under the strong mission “help to bring the metaverse to life“. The mission can now be executed with focus and without diluting the Facebook product brand or the other product brands.