Meta’s latest text-based conversation app, Threads, had the dream start that entrepreneurs worldwide wished they had. With Instagram users wasting no time migrating to the new platform (partly because it was the only way to sign up), Threads quickly smashed ChatGPT’s previous record of 1 million users in 7 days by recording a total of 30 million new users on 6th July 2023, the day of launch itself.
New users lauded Threads for being a good-vibes alternative to Twitter, which had been bogged down by years of controversy surrounding hate speech, fake news, and most recently, Elon Musk’s questionable rebranding tactics. Its launch definitely rocked the boat, sending Twitter activity plummelling by over 75% immediately after launch. For a minute, it really did seem as if Threads would replace its incumbent.
Fast forward to a month later, and Meta’s pet project is already struggling. Threads activity has declined dramatically by 70% to just 13 million users. Twitter, in contrast, has somehow managed to keep a stable user base of around 200 million amid all of the controversy. But with Elon Musk recently axing the iconic bluebird branding for a black X, the dust between Twitter and Threads is far from settled. How will these platforms influence microblogging and the wider digital marketing ecosystem, and is it worth the average professional’s time to be paying attention to these platforms at all?
Opinions on how brands can leverage Threads to boost marketing efforts are still mixed, which is understandable given the platform’s infancy. So far, creators have taken advantage of the platform’s lack of structure to experiment with unconventional content that may otherwise clash with established branding on other channels. On the other hand, some brands are taking a more practical approach, dipping duplicating content from other platforms to see if the Threads audience will bite.
Yet, marketers must take care not to spread themselves too thin. For creators who are already struggling to keep up with (and perform on) existing channels, focusing on content improvement in familiar channels will more often than not yield better results than gambling on Threads’ still yet future.
That said, one can still make strategic content moves based on what we know about Threads so far. Direct importing of Instagram accounts has brought in talented models, photographers, and artists to the platform, along with their following. Creators who work within these niches who play their cards right can stand a chance of winning a portion of this incoming audience. However, this is a loss for journalists and writers, who may not be able to grab the attention of an aesthetics-focused crowd using current affairs. For creators who regularly engage in discourse, Twitter (or X) may still be the place to be.
Another point to note is that Threads is already laying the foundations that will encourage creators to niche down. Launched on 26 July 2023, Threads’ followers only tab will provide users with a feed customisation tool that they’ve been demanding since the app’s inception. Without hashtags, however, content on Threads will still remain relatively organic, a trend that smaller creators can take advantage of before communities start to solidify. They have to move fast, however.
But before creators start stressing about content strategy on Threads, they have to ask themselves if Threads is worth the effort in the first place. Juggling multiple channels aside, Threads is currently facing increasing competition on multiple fronts.
Less than a day after Twitter announced their rebranding, short video-sharing app TikTok launched a new text-based content format that many are saying directly rivals Threads more than any other platform out there. The difference is that TikTok is already an established household name with over 1 billion users worldwide. The text feature does not reinvent the platform that many have grown to know and love, but provides existing users with the option to express themselves in texts of less than 1,000 characters. To add insult to injury, TikTok’s text feature is accompanied by stickers, tags, hashtags, and even sounds — a stark contrast to Threads feature light platform that has drawn criticism for being unengaging.
On July 24 2023, Elon Musk announced that Twitter would be renamed X. Experts are already warning about how the generic name will make brand recall difficult, and is also part of the reason why the writer of today’s blog continues to use the brand’s more recognisable namesake.
This rebranding effort comes after Twitter lost over half of their advertisers and 80% of their employees, and may spell more trouble than good as companies such as Meta and Microsoft already possess intellectual property rights to the same letter. However, optimists are saying that ‘X’ could potentially help the former Twitter shed the baggage that comes along with its negative reputation. Given the unpredictable nature of the internet, this could potentially mark Twitter’s return to glory, albeit in uncanny fashion.
Ironically, the downfall of Threads might ironically stem from within, not without. Given Meta’s history of data-related controversies, the decision to connect Threads so tightly to Instagram has raised eyebrows among more discerning users. The fact that users can’t delete their Threads account without sacrificing their entire Instagram, many profiles of which have been painstakingly built over the years, may be too big of a risk for some creators to stomach.
In fact, a closer look at the numbers speak for themselves. Even at its peak of 100 million sign ups, Threads user base only accounted for 0.05% of Instagram’s — despite the easy access function.
Combine these data trust issues with Threads’ dearth of features and you have a poor-man’s version of Twitter, placing the platform at a severe disadvantage in the battle to the top. That said, recent additions like the follower’s tab may be a sign of Meta listening to feedback, providing hope for a turnaround.
And the fact is that Threads does not have to reach the heights of social media giants to achieve success. Twitch, for example, has an active user base of just 140 million, but has nevertheless carved out a niche within the gaming industry through a combination of live streaming and monetisation features. Creators who enjoy spending hours interacting with their own audience and exchanging both in-game and real-life rewards can also tap into Twitch Prime Loot to reward their most loyal fans. If Threads follows the Twitch niche path, there may still yet be hope for the platform.
With so many developments happening day by day, not even someone with a crystal ball will be able to tell what’s going to happen tomorrow. But if you’re interested in working in tech or the digital space, the next best thing you can do is to follow TTAB on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest career tips and insights.
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