Threads Can Beat Twitter. But It Needs the News.
Meta's new product is the best Twitter challenger yet.
Much has been made of Meta’s launch of Threads - the Twitter killer/challenger it put live last week. I won’t spend too much time here recounting my experience on the app so far (you can follow me here). Suffice it to say it is really easy to set up, looks good and being on there is broadly a more pleasant experience than being on Twitter. However, Threads is also missing some key features, such as the ability to send a Direct Message, hashtags to let users follow specific topics and desktop functionality. It is not yet obvious how you can build an audience on there, beyond importing some of your Instagram followers and a bit of luck with the algorithm.
Threads has shot to over 100 million users. Meanwhile, traffic on Twitter is collapsing, CNBC reported. Obviously, it is still very early days and we will have to see if this growth is sustainable. For now, though, it seems like Threads has the best chance of anyone at displacing Twitter. A quick look at Elon Musk’s tweets suggests he is rather rattled. (I discussed the mess that Twitter is in with Jeff Gamet in last week’s podcast episode.)
Commenting on the launch of Threads, Julie Lock, UK and Ireland Marketing Director at CRM platform HubSpot said that what “is increasingly clear is that Twitter's recent headaches with brand verification and community moderation are a microcosm of the wider challenges facing social media.” She added that “if Threads can provide a long-term answer to these issues, then it could form the blueprint for social platforms going forward. So far, signs are good: Threads' pledge towards sturdy verification is impressive, and users are clearly pleased to see such an intentional right step towards trust and authenticity in the digital universe.”
Threads is an Instagram product, and boss Adam Mosseri told The Verge that the company is “not going to do anything to encourage” politics or “hard news” on the platform. While I absolutely admire the desire to avoid the polarization and unpleasantness that we’ve seen on Twitter and, let’s be honest, Facebook, I think this a miscalculation.
HubSpot’s Lock noted the importance of “reach and shareability, the beating heart of any brand's social media approach.” She commented that “if Threads can master the art of trend-centric content curation, it will put itself in the perfect position to capitalise on the controversies of Twitter to deliver a safe and trusted space for brands that are eager to amplify their reach and engagement in the digital playground.”
I agree with that. Having politics and news on the app must not come at the expense of fun or creativity. That said, while trends can be fun memes, they often relate to hard news and politics too. Sometimes, that is what people actually want to talk about.
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