Is Threads the New Twitter (or now the new "X")

Threads, the new Twitter-like app from Meta, launched on July 5th, and we’ve spent the last few weeks trying out the flashy new platform. It has been billed as Zuckerberg’s answer to Twitter, finally adding a public, text-focused social feed app to their suite of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. But we all know the main reason for its development: to give advertisers a new “safe space” to reach Twitter’s news-hungry audiences minus the Elon Musk chaos. (If you haven’t been on the old platform in a bit, there have been a number of major changes that have affected advertisers directly, including a requirement that brands pay a large some of money to stay verified on the platform, and a noted rise in hate speech and conspiracy theories, leading to many advertisers to move on from a platform that was never really a AAA player in the digital ad space anyway.)However, as shown by the previous mini-migrations to apps like BlueSky, Mastodon, and others, there is clearly an audience yearning for a new space and competition is always a good thing. You’d have to be living under a rock to miss Twitter’s challenges since Musk acquired it, including user and advertiser boycotts, fraudulent accounts, and brand safety – to name just a few. Now, in what can only be a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, Musk just rebranded Twitter as X (yes, just “X”), and announced that it will become more than a 1-trick microblogging pony. Stay tuned for news and POVs on that hot mess…For any user looking for the next best not-Twitter, and for advertisers looking to branch out with more social media options, there are definitely some great possibilities with this app. But there are also a few things to be wary of. Here’s what we’ve discovered so far:

Pros From a User Perspective

There’s Already A Ton Of People On There

One of the biggest hurdles in getting folks to mass migrate over to a brand new space is that it can be hard to get the ball rolling. You don’t want to be the only person to show up to a concert. Users want to know there’s already a party happening before they get there.This is probably why Threads made accessing the new app incredibly easy – if you have an Instagram account you already have a login (“I don’t have enough logins to remember” said nobody ever?). Plus, you can follow all of the accounts you follow on Instagram en masse, and even pre-follow accounts that haven’t yet signed up for Threads. This means that later adopters might log in for the first time to find out they already have hundreds of followers on an app they’ve never used. This was a brilliant tactic to get tons of users quickly, and it worked – Threads instantly became one of the fastest growing apps ever, hitting 100 million users in 5 days. This also made it much more enticing to celebrities and influencers to join up right away, which helps grow the user base even more.

It’s Very Clean

Our first reaction to the app was how clean the user experience feels. There are no ads yet, so you aren’t bombarded with crypto scams every 5 tweets. It also has a much simpler look built around a familiar interface (hey, if it ain’t broke?). Photo carousels look great when scrolling through (unlike on Twitter, which requires you to tap into them to view). And while the lack of hashtag support has some people feeling lost, we find the missing pound signs to be a welcome change (the focus is actually on the text conversations now, and not trying to game the algorithm).As for specific features, it remains to be seen whether users will really take advantage of the “threading” inherent in threads and pick posts on which to dive deep. More likely, they will comment and move on, the way they currently do in Instagram. But Meta has great experience with alerts that invite re-engagement, so the behavior here will be interesting to observe. (Taken to an extreme, will threaded discussions take over subreddits? Unlikely!)

Cons From a User Perspective

Threads Is A Privacy Nightmare

Facebook doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to data privacy (how’s that for understatement of the year?) but this one really takes the cake. In an effort to cover all their bases, downloading the app on iOS requires an agreement to share basically any data you could possibly accumulate while using the app (why do they need our health data again?). In an age of blindly accepting cookies on every webpage, will the majority of users even notice or care? Probably not. But this will certainly turn a percentage of people off forever, and in the case of users in the EU, using the app might not ever be an option.

The Algorithm Isn’t “Good” Yet

If user engagement of TikTok is any indication, users actually LOVE it when you tailor their content as specifically to them as possible. Is it creepy that after a few videos it can learn all of your hobbies and dreams? Yes. But that’s why people keep coming back. The feed is “For You” after all?With Threads, it’s a little disappointing that all of the data that Facebook has about us couldn’t be used more effectively to generate content we might actually want to look at. The first few days were extremely boring, with much of the content being engagement bait from random accounts nobodies ever heard of and brands announcing their presence on the app (sorry American Eagle, it’s not that interesting that you’re here too!). It’s also missing many UX features that could improve the experience (even Twitter has a separate feed just for chronological posts from your favorite accounts). Over time, the algorithm will improve, but this could definitely explain why, despite an incredible launch, engagement has fallen sharply. As Anthony Bartolacci, managing director at marketing data firm Sensor Tower, put it, Threads “will need a more compelling value proposition than simply ‘Twitter, but without Elon Musk'” to survive long term.Of course, the pull of screen time can always have a dark side. Over time, social media algorithms inevitably learn to prioritize eyeballs, which typically leans more into polarizing content, fake news, and baiting. (In fact, Twitter has decided to simply embrace this by literally paying power users based on how engaging their posts are. So now that there’s a financial incentive to get people riled up, would you expect the quality of posts to go up or down?). The dearth of political muckraking on the new app has been a nice relief overall, but Threads will have to take steps to ensure it doesn’t create one more outrage machine that we will all hate-look at.

Pros From An Advertiser Perspective

No Ads Yet, But They’re Probably Coming Soon

While Threads does not yet feature ads functionality, we can expect that this is the whole reason Meta built the app in the first place. Twitter has seen an exodus of advertisers that are looking to put their dollars somewhere, and Facebook itself is seeing a lot more competition from TikTok, Pinterest, and even Reddit.The potential for advertisers is huge here – brands will likely be able to simply choose Threads as a placement in Ads Manager and run Twitter-like ads without even changing anything about their strategy or signing up for a new business manager. You can imagine a future where you just give Facebook a bunch of assets (creative, copy, links, etc) and Meta will create and distribute the ads automatically to whatever platform and placement will work best for the objective (we’re basically already there?). In the meantime, as with other social platform launches, brands should build organic engagement to positively influence the algorithm, and they should analyze their best-performing Meta ads for hints at what to use as ad creative when the time comes. Need help with your organic and ad analysis strategies? Talk to us.

Cons From An Advertiser Perspective

Limited Global Reach

For brands that work internationally, Threads’ privacy concerns might make it much more difficult to reach a user base in Europe. And if we see larger adoption of privacy measures in the US, you could even be limited by state? One can imagine a situation where messages, ads, or links would need to be tailored to Montana or California specifically, which would be a huge nightmare. But for now, you can at least reach your targets in the USA.

Just Another “Thing” You Have To Think About

While this finally feels like it could be the true Twitter alternative everyone was looking for, this creates an awkward situation for brands who may not have the bandwidth to keep up with yet another social app. Organic growth is still useful, but here’s the pickle: do you ditch Twitter in favor of Threads and take a chance on early adoption? Do you keep both and “wait and see?” How does your organic strategy change if you are running both Twitter and Threads at the same time? If you don’t give someone a unique reason to follow you in a new place and just repost the same content folks could easily find elsewhere, what’s the point? (See how Wendy’s and other brands were able to turn their Twitters into a “personality” that felt distinct from the corporate entity). In short, if you are a brand with the bandwidth to share genuine, interesting news and perspectives – Threads is indeed “another” platform you need to add to your content calendar. A few early tips to beleaguered community managers include posting Threads that are applicable to a broad audience (since new users seem to see a variety of brands’ posts), and remembering that like Twitter/X, posts with images and vertical video take up more space and get more attention.Overall, Threads has shown early signs of success, and with the backing of Meta, stiff competition, and a quick gain of 100M users already, we’re likely to see Zuckerberg double down on Threads. It remains to be seen what the advertiser’s role will be here, but that’s where the dollars are after all? Want to discuss how to leverage Threads for your brand? Talk to us.

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