Welcome to the 21st century, an age where technology dominates our lives. The social media giant, Facebook, is a corporation that services billions of users across the globe and has revolutionized communication. However, Mark Zuckerberg believes it's time for the company to acquire a new name - Meta to mark a transition to the age of the mobile internet.
Although Mark Zuckerberg insists the move aims to broaden the company's reach beyond social media to areas like augmented and virtual reality, skeptics say it's a PR gimmick. This follows a series of toxic publicity, ranging from failure to remove hate speech platforms to infringing on privacy.
Keep reading to learn more about why Facebook is rebranding, especially the key factors that contributed to the negative publicity!
Why Facebook Is Rebranding to Meta
As I mentioned, Mark Zuckerberg insists the rebranding is meant to reflect Facebook's move beyond social media.
Meta, derived from the ancient Greek word meaning "beyond", will be the parent company, and Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will be subsidiaries.
In a nutshell, the new company will focus on four areas. These are augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and connectivity. This means that Facebook's rebranding is a means to diversify its revenue sources and explore various avenues beyond the social media sphere.
However, skeptics believe this is a PR strategy that aims to rebuild its reputation after the series of scandals that rocked the company in recent times.
Factors That (Probably) Forced Facebook To Rebrand
Several factors contributed to Facebook's rebranding, the most prominent being the string of toxic publicity over failure to remove hate speech platforms and infringing on privacy.
These two areas especially have dominated headlines since 2018, and it is logical for Zuckerberg to explore other avenues than social media for the corporation to remain relevant in today's world.
Based on an analysis of how the media reported the announcement and recent events related to the company, here are some facts that may be responsible for Facebook's move:
Facebook Sat on a Report That Showed IG Harmed Teenagers' Mental Health
The social network giant has been under fire after reports emerged revealing its negligence towards children and other vulnerable groups.
According to internal documents shown by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook's own researchers conducted a study and established that Instagram harmed teenagers' mental health.
Notably, teens who spent more time on the app developed low self-esteem. Some felt unattractive, poor, antisocial, and wanted to harm or kill themselves after spending time on the platform.
However, instead of acting on the report, Facebook buried it.
Because "otherwise it could cause a PR crisis." My two cents is that Facebook decided to keep the information hidden, and this erodes its credibility even more.
Failure To Remove Hate Speech Platforms on Its Platforms
This ties in with the previous issue. In 2018, Facebook was severely criticized for failing to remove hate speech platforms from its platform.
According to the Center for Countering Digital Hatred (CCDH), major social networks don't take down anti-semitic posts 80% of the time. According to their report, Facebook is the main culprit, failing to delete such posts 79% of the time.
This means that many of these posts remain online, which could potentially cause real danger to groups who are the target of hate speech.
In fact, several companies pulled their ads from the social media giant to pressure it into removing such content from the site.
However, the company has been slow to act despite repeated requests by lawmakers and numerous groups that fight against violence and hatred on social media sites.
Failure To Address Privacy Concerns
There have been several privacy issues on Facebook, and this has even led to a #deletefacebook movement. In 2018, the site was accused of exposing data from millions of users without their consent.
In March 2019, it emerged that Cambridge Analytica accessed data from more than 87 million Facebook profiles without consent during the 2016 U.S presidential election.
A month after, it came out that hackers breached 50 million accounts as well as those of Instagram. This occurred due to failures in the company's security.
Therefore, Zuckerberg is trying to improve its image by establishing diversification and flexibility via rebranding its companies under one parent entity called Meta.
Here’s a video that describes some of the recent scandals facing the company:
Is Rebranding a Solution to a Public Relations Crisis?
Although this is a step forward for Zuckerberg, it is unlikely that rebranding could save the company from its crisis. One reason is that a rebrand in itself won't help if the company continues to make the same mistakes by ignoring privacy, hate speech, mental health, and other concerns rising from people using the platform.
Most notably, Zuckerberg's failure to address these issues concerns may have contributed significantly to the negative attention the company has received recently.
The fact remains, the company has to make radical changes for us to buy its "rebranding" story.
Rebranding Isn't Bad Though: 4 Incredible Examples of Successful Rebranding.
As I mentioned, Facebook rebranding to Meta faces one crucial challenge: ensuring the new company addresses stakeholder concerns instead of downplaying them. However, if done correctly, rebranding may save the company's reputation.
Here are 4 examples of companies that have rebranded successfully:
When Google was launched, the company sought to provide a solution for organizing search engine results. However, it soon became apparent that people needed more than just an organized list of websites.
So, in 2012, they rebranded as Alphabet to reflect the diversification of its business model. Alphabet operates side projects such as Calico, which focuses on researching ways to extend human life.
Apple also rebranded in 1997. However, their situation was slightly different. At the time, they were shedding their image as a computer company to become a provider of consumer technology products for multiple demographics, including young adults and children.
Rebranding allowed them to transform from a company that builds computers to one that provides consumers with innovative technology products.
In 2011, Netflix rebranded to become the more general video streaming service. This is because they realized that most people had stopped subscribing just for DVDs and were instead seeking TV shows and movies online.
As a result, their subscription-based model had to be adjusted to include all forms of content.
Netflix rebranding allowed the company to expand its product portfolio. Consequently, this has allowed them to reach a wider demographic.
In the 1990s, Amazon was rebranded from 'Cadabra' to 'Amazon' due to a comment by Jeff Bezo's lawyer that the name was too obscure and might be misheard as "cadaver".
The company then chose the name Amazon for its vast selection of products and services as well as its distribution network. If the company hadn't changed its name, there's no doubt it wouldn't have become the e-commerce giant it is today.
Therefore, rebranding has allowed these companies to change without losing what made them successful. However, this should not detract from the fact that Facebook should address the mentioned stakeholders' concerns if it is to survive.
If Facebook fails to make radical changes, its rebranding story will fall on deaf ears, and the company will find itself in a serious crisis once again.
4 Practical Tips for Successful Rebranding
Every once in a while, you may find yourself facing the decision to rebrand.
If so, remember to follow these four practical tips:
1. Get Everyone on Board
Ensure that the company's employees and stakeholders are informed about your decision to rebrand.
A clear plan for how you intend to go about the process will also help them understand why it's necessary, which is a crucial first step toward making a successful transition.
2. Use Your New Branding To Differentiate
There's absolutely no point in adopting brand new branding if it fails to differentiate your products and services from those offered by competitors. By not doing so, you may risk alienating existing customers instead of attracting new ones.
3. Ensure There's a Mutual Synergy Between the Old and New Brands
Don't just swap one name with another or completely change your market position without thinking through all the potential implications.
It would help to focus on the positive outcomes that your rebranding could potentially bring and ensure that it meets two requirements:
The new branding is still consistent with what you already stand for.
There's a clear synergy between the old and new branding so that they positively support each other.
4. Monitor Public Reception to Your Branding
Finally, don't just conduct in-depth research amongst your existing target market. It may be useful to monitor public reception to your branding among outside sources such as social media channels.
This will enable you to understand the general opinion amongst people who might not be familiar with your company.
Now you should understand why Facebook is making the switch to Meta even though it might've initially seemed like a strange decision. However, Facebook should not forget to address its main stakeholders' concerns if it is to survive. Furthermore, if the company fails to make radical changes or rebrands in a chaotic fashion, then its future will be bleak.
Nonetheless, if your company ever finds itself dealing with an issue that requires rebranding, remember this article and apply the four practical tips provided above that will help increase the likelihood of success.