As explained by Messenger:
“Developed in partnership with Cosmopolitan, today we’re releasing Nugget Cheers, a brand new interactive AR video calling Group Effect created just for New Year’s Eve. The effect features the (weirdly) perfect pairing of champagne and chicken nuggets that you’ll be able to toast and share with friends on a Messenger or Instagram video call.”
Cool right? Right?
The feature uses Meta’s group AR option for video calls, which it added recently, and enables multiple people within a group chat to engage with the same effect at once.
And now, they’ll be able to nod their heads in unison to activate chicken nuggets in a glass to celebrate NYE.
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of faith in Meta’s renewed push to win back young users.
Part of Meta’s key challenge over the past five or so years has been that it hasn’t been able to keep touch with evolving web culture trends, an aspect that other apps, like Snapchat and TikTok, have excelled in.
Meta, through Facebook first, then Instagram, has gradually eroded any cultural nous within each of its apps, by instead focusing on massive growth, often over all else. Which has certainly succeeded in bringing the maximum amount of users to its apps, but in turn, that approach has also eliminated any exclusivity or cool factor that its platforms and features once had.
Essentially, the company has been built with a structure focused on growth, not culture, and as a result, you now have executives and leaders who are very skilled at building systems, and formulating engagement algorithms, but have no clue when it comes to what’s cool and trending, and what will generate the most buzz to help boost engagement amongst various groups.
Which is why it’s always playing copycat, replicating the key features from other, cooler apps, and why, as a result, it’s lost all credibility among younger audiences as a cultural force.
Meta has more staff, more money, and more capacity that any other platform to develop new, cutting edge tools and options which could help it boost engagement across the board, yet no one would say that Facebook is cool, or even Instagram these days, as they’ve been overtaken by smaller, less resourced, but more in-touch players that know how to connect, and maintain connections with their respective communities.
When was the last time Instagram added a ‘must see’ AR option that wasn’t originally available on Snap or TikTok instead? What was the last Facebook feature that got you genuinely excited, or even interested in the app again?
This is why I have some serious questions about Meta’s capacity to re-connect with the youth, as per Zuckerberg’s new remit.
Back in October, as part of Meta’s Q3 earnings announcement, Zuckerberg said that:
““We’re retooling our teams to make serving young adults their north star, rather than optimizing for the larger number of older people. Like everything, this will involve trade-offs in our products and it will likely mean that the rest of our community will grow more slowly than it otherwise would have. But it should also mean that our services become stronger for young adults.”
But can Meta actually do this?
Nothing that I’ve seen from any of the company’s execs would suggest that they have any real nous or understanding of modern web trends (Instagram chief Adam Mosseri’s attempts to link into Insta trends are particularly cringe-worthy), while new pushes like this, linking champagne and chicken nuggets, seem very forced and disingenuous – and even then, they don’t seem engaging or even interesting at all.
I’m not sure how what other tricks Meta might have in its bag for re-gaining its cool factor, but right now, nothing they’ve produced has shown that it has any real capacity to tune into web trends, let alone lead them, which it will need to do if it really wants to win over younger audiences.
But, you know. Chicken nuggets are cool, huh? Classy and not so classy together, that’s cool, right?
There are also reply tweets like this from the Meta handle on Twitter, where it keeps trying to latch onto other trends via web lingo:
Facts. No one wants to be removed from the group chat this holiday season.
– Meta (@Meta) December 17, 2021
Maybe there’s something Meta has in the works that can help it win back youngsters in a whole other way, something metaverse-aligned, a next-level push that will help it become cool again.
But right now, I just don’t see it.