Since the name change on October 28 2021, tough competition from TikTok and shareholder worries, it has been a turbulent year for Zuckerburg’s business. Thomas Walters, Founder and CEO at influencer agency Billion Dollar Boy, walks through what we have learnt and what lies beyond.
When Facebook rebranded to Meta one year ago, the clue was in the name. The word "meta" originates from the Greek word meaning "beyond”, representing the growing portfolio of products and services owned by the parent company.
Although some critics argue the rebrand was primarily designed to protect Meta brands from Facebook’s reputational damage, Meta would argue the rebrand is indicative of its new focus on the metaverse – immersive virtual reality (VR) worlds where people can game, work and communicate.
Announcing the rebrand, Meta founder and CEO, Mark Zuckberg told a virtual conference: "over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we're building towards."
One year on, has the business achieved that ambition and what does the future hold?
A year in review
Within its first year, Meta reportedly spent $10bn on the metaverse, a sign of its commitment. But this week, Meta faced calls from shareholders to rein in spending amid accusations by long-term shareholder Altimeter Capital Management that Meta has lost “focus”.
Despite the significant outlay and although Meta is yet to reach its goal of 500,000 monthly active users for Horizon Worlds, we should remember where the metaverse is in its growth journey. Meta remains in the ‘education’ phase, with almost one in five (19%) consumers feeling confused about it, according to recent research of more than 4,500 consumers, marketers and creators across the UK and US.
However, the survey also reveals that 40% of Gen Z consumers and a third (32%) of millennials are active within the metaverse – encouraging brands to explore.
Over half (55%) of marketers have reassigned budget from other marketing channels to the metaverse, with almost half (46%) already executing marketing strategies. For example, Nike launched Nikeland last year, a branded, virtual interactive space, Gucci created Gucci Town for consumers to explore the fashion label’s creative vision and Adidas partnered with NFT companies such as Bored Ape Yacht Club.
The future of Meta and the metaverse
So, what does the future hold for Meta and the metaverse?
With 73% of time on social media in the UK spent on Meta platforms, the business still has strong foundations. As shareholders warn though, Meta must not lose “focus” on legacy platforms. Continuing to develop Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp amid growing competition from BeReal and TikTok will be key to business success. Tests on new formats such as ‘multi-advertiser ads’ and ‘post-loop ads’ are encouraging.
Meanwhile, the metaverse continues to show potential with almost a third (29%) of marketers planning on operating in it over the next year, and half of both Gen Z and millennial consumers keen to learn more about it too.
Increasing creator participation will be key to its success, helping to appeal to fans and create vibrant and original content to keep audiences engaged. If successful, revenue opportunities for Meta and brands could be substantial.
Although the full extent of the metaverse’s early promise remains to be fulfilled, there’s plenty of room for growth yet. Year two will be about refining the platform and attracting and retaining users.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer