Facebook announced Thursday that it was changing its name to Meta as part of an effort to rebrand the company. As a part of the change, it enlisted stars with millions of followers on TikTok, rather than creators best-known for their work on Meta’s platforms such as Instagram, to hype up CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s announcement.
The move speaks to a dearth of easily recognizable personalities known for their work on its own platforms and the company’s apparent inability to recreate TikTok’s success with Gen Z.
The company launched Reels, a TikTok clone for Instagram, in August 2020. At the time, The New York Times called it a “dud.” While some creators have said the feature helped them grow on the platform, Instagram still hasn’t captured one of TikTok’s biggest selling points: the viral success that has singlehandedly built massive careers. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in May that he was aware that the platform was better at “creating value” for “established” creators, but that it was shifting its focus towards emerging creators going forward.
Zuckerberg has been heralding the company’s pivot into the “metaverse,” a virtual universe in which people could use VR technology to interact with one another, for several months. The name change to “Meta” is meant to better encapsulate that mission. It also comes in the wake of the company’s most recent PR scandal, spurred by whistleblower Frances Haugen leaking documents purporting to show that Facebook knew it was harming people, specifically teens, to the Wall Street Journal.
The company rolled out Meta-sponsored content from three TikTokers on its primary Twitter account, @Meta, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: Emily Zugay (@emilyzugay), Oneya Johnson (@angryreactions), and Khabane “Khaby” Lame (@khaby.lame), respectively. They show Lame, Johnson, and Zugay zipping around the metaverse, reacting to Zuckerberg’s announcement, and turning Meta’s logo into a meme.