Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has rolled out its so-called “Twitter-killer” app, Threads. With Twitter’s stature already under threat thanks to plummeting ad sales and a decline in usage since Elon Musk’s takeover, and the earlier rise of alternatives platforms Mastodon and BlueSky, many have been led to wonder whether Threads may actually be the last straw for Twitter.
And it’s no wonder why. In many respects, the Threads app appears to be a Twitter lookalike. Tied to users’ Instagram accounts, Threads offers a text-based newsfeed experience, only here, tweets are called “threads” and retweets are called “reposts.”
Perhaps it was these similarities, along with a dash of curiosity and the desire for a Twitter alternative, that drove Threads to smash app-download records in the days after its release. Within just hours of its launch, Threads saw more than 10 million sign-ups; in five days, it had already surpassed 100 million users.
How’s Twitter Responding?
This big splash onto the scene was not without controversy, of course. Musk’s Twitter, naturally, will not be going down without a fight. Almost immediately, Twitter served Meta with a cease and desist letter, threatening a lawsuit over what it calls a “copycat” product.
Despite this backlash, Meta stakeholders have openly stated their intention to rival Twitter while also trying to differentiate themselves from the social media stalwart.
“The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri told AP.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has himself stressed this point on friendliness being a key differentiator between Threads and Twitter. Writing on his own Threads account, Zuckerberg stated that “[Threads’] goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success…That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”
What Does This Mean for Brands?
It remains to be seen whether Threads will spell the end of Twitter. And in any case, it’s likely that Twitter’s potential end will not come suddenly but gradually.
For now though, crucially, Threads does not support ads; so don’t expect brands to yet be leaving Twitter in droves.
However, this situation is expected to change in the near future, with Threads sources telling Axios that branded content features are on the way—and that ads will be rolled out once the app reaches a “critical mass” of users.
In the meantime, the guidance being offered to brands is to ensure that they clearly disclose any paid partnerships using text or hashtags until Threads gets its own branded content tools up and running.
Threads bursting onto the scene rightly has many interested brands lining up to start spending their ad budgets on the new app. As quality opportunities have waned on Twitter, Meta’s new entry into the social media space could provide a much-needed alternative for not just interested users but hungry advertisers.
However, for the time being, with ads support still in the offing at Threads, brands should focus on building up an organic presence on the new app and experimenting to learn what the Threads audience will engage with most.
By building this foundation and driving learnings over the next weeks and months, brands will only be better prepared to deploy a highly effective strategy when that critical mass of users is reached, and advertising options are unlocked on the new Threads app.