Ruth Lee
Jul 7, 2023

Unravelling Threads: What Meta's Twitter rival means for comms pros

Amid yet another tumultuous week at Twitter, Meta has dropped the biggest spanner-in-the-works yet for the bluebird: the announcement that Twitter-copycat, Threads has launched.

Unravelling Threads: What Meta's Twitter rival means for comms pros

So, do we need to ditch Twitter once and for all and migrate to Threads?

Already branded the “Twitter-killer”, Threads is a text-based conversation app, attached to Instagram, that allows users to “discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what'll be trending tomorrow”, it says.

From the initial images shared, it looks remarkably similar to Twitter, which would be no great surprise in the long-standing “borrowing with pride” approach taken by Meta – think Instagram Reels (TikTok) and Stories (Snapchat). 

It also appears to have a feature where you can choose the audience who can reply to your posts, which could help strengthen community and protect from hate speech – something Twitter is often accused of not doing adequately.

And while other Twitter lookalikes (such as Truth Social, Bluesky and Mastodon) haven’t significantly dented Twitter’s user base due to their more fragmented, start-up nature, Threads could do just that.

In essence, Threads is more interesting than other rivals to Twitter because of two things.

First, it’s attached to Instagram, so won’t require the start-from-scratch community-building that other alternatives have. It also benefits from the positive halo effect of the still well-loved Instagram app. Its decentralised nature might also help to build user trust, something Meta and the other platforms have struggled with.

Second, the announcement of Threads is timed to perfection. It feels a bit like a ray of sunshine fresh off the back of more storm clouds at Twitter, with the restriction of tweets you can view altering the DNA of the platform. And of course, no such limits will apply on Threads.

Other rivals had already reported a surge in interest following Musk’s surprise move to restrict tweets this week, with Bluesky shutting off new sign-ups over the weekend and Mastodon seeing 85,000 new sign-ups in the 24 hours following the news.

Twitter users feel frustrated, and advertisers feel alienated by the latest in a long line of changes. Now a credible alternative has popped up, a switch seems inevitable.

But it would be premature to write Twitter off. It’s held surprisingly firm against change and, in some ways, the short-term pain of migrating users may be counteracted by a shift in focus and the opening up of new revenue streams – as seems to be Musk’s intention.

Social media usage is a democracy. For brands, influencers and media to make a home on Threads there needs to be a groundswell of consumer support, as well as time to build up a data bank that can be effectively utilised.

Threads is a credible contender, but Twitter is still a heavyweight in the ring and it’s unlikely to throw in the towel any time soon.

Ruth Lee is a senior director at Citypress.



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