A bold start-up ten years ago, when it became public, Facebook is today a group with a tarnished image and declining popularity, but which remains essential and intends to remain so in the metaverse.
The images, dated May 18, 2012, appear to come from another time.
Mark Zuckerberg symbolically rings the bell of the Nasdaq Electronic Stock Exchange, in the middle of an esplanade at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park (California), in front of thousands of jubilant employees who give their boss a standing ovation.
“At the time, Facebook was seen as young, modern, a way to connect people with each other (and) Zuckerberg was still seen as a young leader,” recalls Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies.
“Today, we associate it with political manipulation, with publicity”, he says. “Facebook is considered a data-hungry company.”
But if the group’s growth is worrying and has caused Facebook’s share, which became Meta, to lose almost half its value since the beginning of September, the social network still has 2.94 billion monthly active users, and keeps growing.
“Facebook maintains a competitive advantage thanks to the number of users”, summarizes David Bchiri, independent expert. “They’ve been focused for a long time on the goal of connecting as many users as possible.”
“Small advertisers (…) may have this view that customer service has dropped, that no one is going to Facebook anymore, but that’s not true,” says Keith Kakadia, founder of sociallyIN marketing agency SociallyIN.
And last year’s update to the iOS operating system for iPhones, which prevents some user data collection, has certainly penalized Meta, but not delegitimized it with advertisers.
“We always highly recommend Facebook in a branding strategy and most of them advertise on it,” says the leader.
“What is true is that 13 to 18 people are starting to not have a Facebook page,” but they are often on Instagram, a subsidiary of Meta, “and so they are part of Facebook’s strategy.”
– Metaverse Eldorado –
Before Facebook, many had tried the social networking experience. From Friendster to MySpace, none have had lasting success, burdened by too-rapid development, risky diversification, or insufficient content moderation.
Since then, many have started, but most are now targeting a niche.
“We don’t have the vocation or ambition to have the size of Facebook, of course”, explains Jérémie Mani, co-founder of Altruwe, a social network focused on altruism, which today has 10,000 users.
The goal, he says, is “to be able to show that there is an alternative” to Facebook or Twitter.
As for the conservative networks, which have sprouted like mushrooms since 2016, from Parler to Gettr through Donald Trump’s recent Social Truth, they too “have not reached the critical mass that makes them essential.”
“I don’t think the competition got it wrong,” says Carolina Milanesi, “only Facebook got the size and got there at the right time.”
Always at the top, Facebook wants to stay in the metaverse, those virtual universes where you can lead a parallel existence and in which Mark Zuckerberg bet, to the point of changing the name of his group to Meta Platforms.
Meta will devote at least ten billion dollars a year to creating and structuring its version of the metaverse, to establish itself as the virtual universe by default.
Keith Kakadia believes that, even if “we don’t see brands starting to think about how to integrate” this new space.
“As early as 2014, Facebook positioned itself in the metaverse by buying Oculus (a specialist in virtual reality headsets), but no one understood” at the time, he says. “Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg were always one step ahead.”
“Their strategy”, analyzes David Bchiri, “is to be the entry key for brands, as they were on FB pages ten years ago”.
“You have to be the first”, according to Carolina Milanesi, “the one who sets the rules and can enforce them”.