If you are a brand and have been posting to Twitter for years, it may seem like Threads, Meta Platform’s (META.O) broadside to Twitter, is just another app that will compete for the same ad dollars. However, analysts say it could lure away marketing budgets — eventually.
Launched on July 5, Threads became the fastest-growing social media platform to hit 100 million users, making it a severe first threat to the dominant microblogging Twitter app. The new app’s design echoes Twitter’s, with a text-based feed and the ability to quote and repost posts from other accounts. It also integrates with Instagram, allowing you to follow the same account on both platforms. It is easy for creators with large followings on Instagram to transfer their content over to Threads and keep their followers engaged, but some brands are also concerned about managing a new app.
Threads’ growth is impressive, but it is far too early to tell whether it can stand the test of time. The app has not launched in Europe, where Instagram’s head of product said there is “still some regulatory complexity.” It has much more room to grow since it has yet to roll out its monetizable features to the broader user base.
However, even if it does make it to the end of the runway, the question remains: Will it have enough users who want to use it as a replacement for Twitter? The answer could depend on the success of its effort to tamp down the divisive politics that have made many social media platforms caustic and polarized. “People have got tired of social media,” said Belinda Barnet, a senior lecturer in media at Australia’s Swinburne University. “They are looking for a better alternative.”
While Elon Musk is quick to criticize the press and label journalists who disagree with him as “fake news,” it is unclear how much he will be able to influence the tone of Threads. Some of its most prominent users have been politicians and celebrities, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ellen DeGeneres. “There is a lot of blood sport in politics, and that is going to be hard to stop on Threads,” Barnet said.
Twitter’s owner, Facebook’s (FB.O) Mark Zuckerberg, has poured tens of billions into virtual reality and the metaverse, leaving him little time to focus on new apps that could threaten his company’s dominance. However, the rise of Threads could refocus his attention and that of the industry at large.
Regardless of the outcome, Threads will be tested to see how it can keep its users. Some will likely abandon it, but others may stick around if it can deliver a clean interface, a curated approach to news, and a way for them to connect with the same groups they currently follow on Twitter. As a result, the app will likely have a different impact than its competitor, but experts say it is worth keeping an eye on.