Last week, Meta launched Threads, the newest product within their suite of social media platforms, across more than 100 countries. The anticipated Twitter-competitor received 30 million sign ups within 24 hours according to Meta CEO and Facebook Co-Founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Meta has a long history of expanding their footprint in the social space by either buying their competitors or releasing similar products. Instagram was acquired in 2012, with WhatsApp and Oculus VR following suit in 2014. With the rollout of Threads, Twitter now joins the ranks of Snap and TikTok, whose 24-hour disappearing updates and vertical short form videos are "echoed" in Meta's Stories and Reels products that are now central to Facebook and Instagram. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Meta is singing Twitter's praises and taking them right to the bank.

What is Threads?

Meta is positioning Threads as a companion app to Instagram; "a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.”

The initial version of the app has a user interface similar to Twitter, but lacks some of the tools that are central to the Twitter experience. Content searchability and hashtag functionality are not currently supported, and users can only access the platform via apps on iOS and Android devices.

Another key differentiator between Threads and Twitter is how closely tied the app is to Instagram. In this initial version, Threads accounts can only be created via existing Instagram accounts using identical usernames to the corresponding Instagram profile. Users are able to duplicate their profile setup in one click, and in one more click can follow all profiles that they follow on Instagram.

Screenshot 2023-07-06 at 5.32.24 PM

Threads vs Twitter

Casual social users and media savants alike are quick to pit Threads against Twitter - and for good reason.

Twitter was purchased in late 2022 by billionaire Elon Musk, with rapid changes happening to the company and product ever since. His highly-followed ownership has been marked by layoffs, lawsuits, and so many updates to the 17-year-old platform that loyalty is fading among long-time users. Pew Research Center found that top Twitter users posted, or "tweeted," 25% less in the months following Musk's acquisition, and Fidelity reports that the company value has decreased by two-thirds.

So, if fans of the OG Twitter can't get their fix from the blue bird anymore, where will they turn? There is no shortage of options. BlueSky, Mastadon, Spill, and many more have welcomed Twitter users trying to find their new home, but none of these potential Twitter substitutes have amassed the collective following and usage to be a viable replacement yet.

This is where Meta has a leg up, and they are not afraid to use it. Translating their 1 billion monthly Instagram users to Threads gives them a massive advantage in the competition, but also poses their biggest obstacle. User behavior between Instagram and Twitter tends to be extremely different, and by coding Instagram into the DNA of Threads, they create hurdles for users trying to replicate their Twitter experience.

As of now, Threads does not have a direct messaging capability like Twitter, and is not available in the E.U. at this time. It is also important to note that once set up, you cannot delete your Threads account without also wiping your Instagram account. 

Threads for Advertisers

The Threads feed is currently ad-free with no opportunity for monetization, with reports suggesting that it will remain this way until the end of 2023. In the meantime, we are encouraging brands to do the following:

  • Brands should claim their Threads account now and begin experimenting with organic content on the platform.
  • Rather than create net new content, brands can test their top performing content from Twitter and Instagram. This will help brands scale their presence quickly and begin learning what types of content will resonate with users in the new space.
  • The platform is likely going to evolve, with opportunities for changes in Search, Edit, Character Count, Hashtags, Feed Sort Options, Graph Syncing, Fediverse Support, Messaging, Recommendations, Trends, Data and Feeds.
  • Instagram has already shared that they plan to connect Threads with Mastodon, and that brands will be able to take their followers from Threads to Mastodon if they decide to switch platforms.
  • Brands that test and learn now while staying nimble with their approach will be best equipped to take advantage of marketing opportunities in the future.

If the future is anything like the past, it would come as no surprise to see "Threads" in Meta's ever-growing list of ad placements alongside Stories, Reels, Instagram, and the original Facebook Feed. Meta will do what Meta does: Move quickly from imitation to monetization.

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