Threads Steals Twitter’s Lunch: A Look at the Latest Meta Platform
By Bobby Johnson
July 7, 2023
By Bobby Johnson
July 7, 2023
Threads is the newest kid in school, the social media platform that sprung up Wednesday and has already captured attention on the global stage.
Despite Threads being dropped with little fanfare on Wednesday, the platform hit 70 million users by Friday. At the time of this writing, it’s reached over 107 million. But you can check Quiver Quantitive for an up-to-the-minute count. By contrast, Twitter has around 450 million active users. And considering Twitter has had since 2006 to grow those numbers, and Threads hit 15% of Twitter’s active user base in three days, that is impressive growth.
In fact, Mark Zuckerberg predicts the platform to outgrow Twitter. The friendly–or perhaps not-so-friendly–competition is officially on.
The Twitter comparisons are popping up for a reason: Threads has a 2011-era Twitter functionality and vibe that many users have been missing.
At its core, Threads offers a new space for real-time updates, expressive language, and conversations.
The vision with Threads is to take Instagram’s built-in social graph and help them interact with snappy text. Whereas Instagram is perfect for sharing funny and useful Reels, images, and video content, Threads is built for conversation.
But why not just use Twitter? It’s not controversial to say Twitter’s reputation has always been a little “Wild West,” and that reputation has only increased in the past six months.
“Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been both transformative and controversial to many. Enter Threads: a heavily comparable platform that seamlessly connects with Instagram. Will it redefine the way we engage with text-based content or become just another app in an already crowded space?” – Alexa Sorensen, Digital Marketing Specialist, Inspira Marketing
Instagram, on the other hand, has a reputation for trust, familiarity, and convenience. A lot of those celebrities you’ve been missing on Twitter, or hoping might migrate to Mastodon or another alternative, were on Threads day one.
The biggest hurdle for any new social platform is galvanizing a user base: how do you get new people to sign up for yet another app. The reason Threads came out of the gate so hard is that it had a built-in user base: Instagram.
Threads is built by the Instagram team, and leverages the features of Instagram. Most Instagram users received a simple invite right on their Instagram app, which allowed them to set up their Threads with a simple click. You can choose to carry over your username, followers, profile image, and bio if you want, putting the barrier to entry on the floor.
Threads is connected back with Instagram, too. You can click on someone’s Threads account and find the built-in link to their Instagram right at the top.
Threads’ core accessibility features are also taken directly from Instagram, like screen reader support and AI-generated imaged descriptions.
Threads is primarily text-focused, but it allows for media sharing of all kinds. It also allows you to like, reply to, boost, and “quote” (think Quote Tweets) the content of other users.
For text, Threads allows up to 500 characters of text in each post. Of course, one of the core components of Threads (hint: it’s in the name) is the ability to string the posts together, to tackle as complex a topic as you need to. Or to ramble on, it’s your Threads, go nuts.
For video, Threads lets users post up to 5 minutes of content per post. That’s basically a short film by internet standards. Images and links are also allowed.
The interconnectivity with Instagram works a lot like Instagram’s connection with Facebook. Posts you make on Threads can be shunted over to your Instagram stories relatively painlessly.
Threads also encourages positivity using the same tools as Instagram. Basically, there’s a hidden list of negative or discouraged words, and posts and replies are checked against this list. When a user tries to reply to you with some of those words, their reply gets buried by the great algorithm in the sky.
Now for what Threads doesn’t have.
The most notable absence is hashtags. You can put a hashtag in your post if you like, but it’s not going to connect to anything or be searchable like, well, like every other social media platform.
There’s no direct message feature. You won’t be sliding into anyone’s DMs on Threads. Not yet, anyway.
There’s also no ability to see only the people you’re following. Basically, your feed is algorithmically generated with your existing Meta data, and it’s only sprinkled through with the people you’ve actually clicked “follow” on. It also isn’t chronological, meaning you may see posts from a day or two ago at the top of your feed if they’ve been receiving a lot of engagement.
Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has said specifically that the ability to switch between chronological and algorithmic feeds is on the way, citing the current settings in both Facebook and Instagram that allow you to do this for a limited time.
For brands and advertisers taking a look at this nascent platform, the heavy focus on the algorithm is a good thing. It’s going to get your content to many people outside of your current follower list, expanding your existing audience without any additional effort on your part.
We hate to brag (we don’t hate to brag), but Inspira has a full stable of professional social media gurus. We thought we’d ask them what they think about Threads, and the buzz around it.
“We will need to watch closely for any announcements about paid media buys on the platform. If a client already has a history of advertising on Meta, it’ll make sense to test out advertising on Threads. For clients that have had success on the Meta platform, it could prove to be another fruitful avenue.” – Emma Richards, Paid Media Specialist
“Even though Threads isn’t an inherently new idea, it’s likely going to change the landscape a bit. While Threads may be seen as a rival to Twitter, let’s be real, Twitter hasn’t been doing so well lately. And you know what Instagram did wrong with Reels? They tried to copy TikTok, but at a time when TikTok’s health was at its peak. On the other hand, with Threads, Twitter’s not exactly in its prime, which could make it a whole lot easier for Instagram to step in and take on the competition.” – Alexa Sorensen, Digital Marketing Specialist
“Meta has a history of imitating other channels and incorporating their features under their own branding. Think Snapchat and Insta Stories, TikTok and Reels, Twitter and Threads. However, the ultimate success of Threads will be determined by the dedicated Twitter users and superusers. If they embrace it, others are likely to follow suit. The question remains: is Threads truly an innovative platform fulfilling a genuine need, or is it merely capitalizing on the market gap created by Twitter’s mismanagement? Will we witness a decline in its popularity once users realize it fails to add substantial value to their social media experience?” – Brett Sirianni, Chief Digital Officer
Threads is currently an open question, but its startling growth, ease of sign-up, and built-in audience make it a platform worth checking out.
Meta has already announced a host of upcoming features, like improved recommendations and a better search engine. And of course, the ability to tweak who you see on your feed, as mentioned earlier. Meta also mentioned the ability in the future to link with other networks, like the fediverse.
Will it eventually gain all of Twitter’s features, like polls and hashtags and third-party apps? Only time will tell, but considering Meta’s history, you can expect them to take what worked on Twitter and discard the more controversial changes.
If you’re looking to jump into Threads as a brand, we can help you set up your strategy for how to engage this newborn social platform. Reach out to Inspira Marketing today to learn more.
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