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Better Than Meta
Aaron Perlut | Partner

 

By now you have no doubt heard the news. Actually, you probably heard the news within minutes or even seconds of its announcement. Facebook is making a significant change. The social media giant announced its holding company will now be called Meta

“Meta,” you ask? There are some theories as to where it came from. Some that I believe could be true include:

  • Mark Zuckerberg meant to call it MAGA but simply misspelled it. 
  • Its core demo is baby boomers and Metamucil puts millions into paid social.
  • Zuck was doing coke with former NBA star Ron Artest who years ago changed his name to “Meta World Peace” and got a wild hair up his ass. 
  • Zuckerberg is a huge Paul Reiser fan (it’s our one shared love) and wants to enter the streaming wars with “Meta Bout You.”
  • Since a ValueJet plane crashed in the Florida everglades and  the carrier then changed its name to AirTran and Facebook is in plane crash mode due to whistleblower Frances Haugen Sheryl Sandberg thought it seemed right. 
  • Zuck was looking for a means to spin his reptilian blood and believes the metaverse holds great promise for this budding technology.

The name change was announced at the Facebook Connect conference (which bears no relation to Connect 4) and reflects the company’s growing ambitions beyond social media. Allegedly allegedly the new moniker is based on the sci-fi term metaverse describing the company’s vision for working and playing in a virtual world.

“Today we are seen as a social media company,” Meta CEO and serial liar Mark Zuckerberg said in a prepared statement that was written by his press person. “But in our DNA, we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier, just like social networking was when we got started.”

What … ever Marky Z and the Funky Fun Bunch. It’s a dumb name and somewhat of a head-scratching change to one of the most well-known corporate names of the past 25 years. I mean, come on dude. When I hear the word “meta,” I think of some whiny, arrogant, 26-year-old wearing horn-rimmed glasses, a turtleneck, skinny jeans and a scarf on a 100-degree day and sipping a latte outside a Soho coffee shop screaming, “ARE YOU SERIOUS! THAT IS THE MOST META THING … I MEAN … LIKE … EVER!” Or my friend Adam. He said the same thing to me last weekend and I had no idea what he meant. 

But for real, Mark, you could have done so much better. You are worth billions of dollars and can afford some decent branding and copywriting minds. At least, that’s my presumption. But since you didn’t seek out any qualified thinking like my pals Dominic or Chase here’s a few ideas you should have considered:

  • FakeLife.
  • StalkerWorld.
  • Truth Social (wait, that might be taken).
  • FishPond.
  • MySpace 2 – Electric Boogaloo at the Capitol.
  • LonelyPlanet.
  • BoomerTown.
  • PornHub (crap, no, that’s definitely taken).
  • BusinessGenocider (or as my pal Brendan put it to me, “data sucking pieces of sh*t who helped monetize the downfall of American democracy and fomented genocide in several countries across the world” …….OUCH!).

STOP! All kidding aside, here’s how I truly feel about this: It makes sense to me that Zuckerberg is pivoting his company into virtual reality because as long as we’ve known him, he’s always seemed to live in an alternate universe.  But having counseled huge brands at times when they’ve made significant pivots like AT&T, GoDaddy, UPS and more I actually get it. I really do. 

Consider that a key element of Haugen’s leaked Facebook files was research demonstrating what my kids repeatedly tell me: Facebook is for old people. Indeed, the company struggles to attract young users and is willing to go to highly questionable lengths to gain their favor. And yet, the Meta name has been overwhelmingly mocked by the very audience the company is trying to attract. 

More importantly — and to me, this is the key — Facebook, or rather, Meta, is trying to tell us what we need before we feel like we need it. That was Apple founder Steve Jobs’ brilliance (remember flip phones?). Meta believes virtual reality is what we need, where we are headed, and what will be mainstream five years from now. So they are going to show us the way. 

For those who think the corporate rebrand was a reaction to the company’s recent challenges, you’re probably just half-right. A move of this magnitude can take years to plan and execute. Thus, it was clearly a long-planned rebrand. I would imagine, however, Zuckerberg and Co. moved it up a bit as a means to distract us from the onslaught of recent bad news and possible congressional investigation. 

Will renaming the corporate holding company Meta succeed? Why wouldn’t it? And after spending $2 billion to purchase Palmer Luckey’s Oculus that he built in his garage and then sending him packing it had better. But yes, Meta will be just fine. After all, as of January 2021, Facebook was the most commonly used social media platform among marketers worldwide followed by Instagram.

Meta is no MySpace and the company is simply too big to fail, although if some on Capitol Hill have their way, it may be separated into various corporate entities.

But from the perspective of the company’s user-facing platforms, here’s what was not made clear in any way by the former Facebook or the media that covered the announcement: Facebook will remain Facebook; Instagram will remain Instagram; WhatsApp will remain WhatsApp; and Meta will continue to harvest and monetize our most personal information on every platform it operates. Much like Alphabet is the parent of Google, Meta will simply serve as the holding company platform.

I just think we could do better than Meta on a variety of levels. 

Aaron Perlut

Aaron Perlut is a cofounding partner of Elasticity with some 25 years of diverse experience in journalism, public relations and digital marketing. He is a former senior reputation management counselor at Omnicom company FleishmanHillard, as well as a communications executive for two of the nation's largest energy companies. Throughout his career, Perlut has counseled a range of organizations – Fortune 500s, state governments, professional sports franchises, economic development authorities, well-funded startups and large non-profits – helping manage reputation and market brands across a diverse channels in an evolving media environment.

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