ETIP #302

Can Threads Get Ahead if Twitter Isn’t Dead?

Can Threads Get Ahead if Twitter Isn’t Dead?

Amidst the evolving landscape of social media, a new player has emerged – Threads. Operated by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, Threads is described as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app,” aiming to be a “less toxic version of Twitter.”

While Threads had a sensational launch, Twitter still remains a hot topic, and there aren’t any meaningful signs that Threads has significantly cannibalized Twitter market share.

Several Starmarkers were at the 2023 MMA Possible Conference (to accept our SMARTIES award for the Boggy Creek VR experience) in April for Elon Musk’s interview with Linda Yaccarino, former Chairman of MMA and now CEO of X Corp. It’s strange, looking back, to realize we were actually witnessing Yaccarino’s very unconventional job interview for the top job at X Corp.

X’s new direction may not create growth, but it’s keeping the platform afloat

During that POSSIBLE Conference conversation, Elon Musk unveiled his vision to “maximize unregretted user time” on Twitter. He also reiterated the same beliefs we’ve heard from him previously that freedom of speech is crucial for advancing humanity and democracy.

What was new news to us and the room full of thousands of other advertisers were updates to the platform allowing targeted buying against relevant content and new tools to help advertisers avoid toxic and hateful content appearing in conjunction with their advertising.

Despite these positive signs, the overall instability with the platform and confusion among advertisers has resulted in a 59% decline in U.S. ad revenue.

Threads may not be the answer Twitter exiles want

Despite an initial surge of sign-ups, Threads has faced challenges in user retention. The Wall Street Journal reports that daily active users on Threads have dropped by 70%, with the time spent on the app reduced to just 4 minutes, a fraction of the initial 21 minutes during its launch.

Threads lacks several features that users find essential on other platforms, such as a chronological feed and direct messaging capabilities. Additionally, the actual purpose of Threads remains unclear, leading to a lack of compelling content and engagement.

Couple these oversights with the continued functionality of X (neé Twitter), and despite Elon Musk’s controversial changes, the platform remains operational, making it difficult for Threads to establish itself as a meaningful alternative.

The upside for advertisers

While Threads does not currently offer advertising opportunities, there are indications that Meta’s Instagram team is working on introducing branded content tools in the near future, once Threads gains critical mass. Until then, marketers are advised to use hashtags or text to clearly disclose paid partnerships in their content.

It’s essential to point out that Instagram, another one of Meta’s most successful brands, initially launched without ads but now thrives on advertising revenue. This suggests that Threads may follow a similar trajectory, potentially providing marketers with a new avenue for promoting their brands and products.

It stands to reason that Meta’s engineers may be prioritizing rolling out advertising features and a management platform to capitalize on that previously mentioned advertising revenue decline suffered by Twitter.

Stay tuned for updates

We’ll be keeping a close eye on Threads as it strives to carve a niche as a “less toxic” alternative to Twitter, and we’ll be updating this article (plus writing more on this subject) as news emerges.