ANTWERP AMSTERDAM BRUSSELS

Is Threads here to stay?

Stasia Bolbas & Margot Feiner's expert opinion on the latest Meta App; Threads

A new social media channel has recently been launched: Threads. It’s a platform launched by Meta, the company which also owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Meta closes the gap in their platforms, by introducing Threads as a platform for short written messages. This makes Threads a direct competitor for Elon Musk’s Twitter.   

Threads managed to reach 70 million users in the first 24 hours in over 100 countries. The huge popularity is there because you only need an Instagram account to subscribe to Threads. By logging in with your Instagram account, your Instagram followers automatically follow you on Threads when they create an account. This way you can easily bring your whole network to the new channel. Another reason behind the early success of Threads is the launch date of July 6th, 2023. Twitter is at this point instable, which made it very tempting for distressed Twitter users to switch platforms.

What is important though, is that the platform hasn’t been launched in Europe yet due to privacy regulations and copyright infringements with another app called “Threads”. For now, it’s still unclear when the platform will launch in the Benelux. However, there is a web version available where you can only read, and not react. Nevertheless, even with the big amounts of data the platform gathers, people are still excited about Threads as it makes use of ActivityPub, which makes the platform decentralised. Therefore, users can decide themselves how much data they are willing to give up. But make note that giving up more data makes the platforms easier to use. Another competitor, Mastodon, also uses this technology, but remains quite small currently

If we try to predict how Threads will evolve in the Benelux, and how interesting it will become for advertising on it, we can say following. Due to the instability of Twitter since Elon Musk has acquired it, the number of users declined by 13% in The Netherlands. This could be mostly by the removal of a lot of inactive and fake accounts and bots. The Belgians over 13 years old, however, started using Twitter 5,3% more than last year. This is mainly because of discoverability problems with Facebook & Instagram and the spiking curiosity of what was happening when Elon Musk bought the platform. Next to that, ActivityPub offers new possibilities for users, but also advertisers.  

 

In addition, non-paying Twitter users can only see up to 800 Tweets per day (compared to 8.000 for the paying accounts). This reduces the user-friendliness and makes the platform less interesting for advertisers as fewer people can see their ads. This gives Threads a big audience to convince to switch platforms, as the use of Threads is free and without restrictions right now. 

On the other side, consumers are getting tired of the rising number of social media platforms, which makes them less willing to try new ones and users are also increasingly more aware of their data & its protection.  

So, what can we conclude?
Threads, the ‘Twitter-killer’ Meta app, got off to a great start because it’s the fastest-growing app ever, with 100 million users in under a week. The last record was held by ChatGPT, the very popular generative AI tool, and took the site two months to achieve. Even though Threads has beaten ChatGPT on that front, the latter is likely to be far more consequential as it’s a societal gamechanger. It holds the promise of boosting worker productivity, helping businesses save costs, and even turning the white-collar industries upside down. On top, the underlying technology behind ChatGPT is still in its infancy. This suggests it will most likely continue its shakeup in unforeseen ways. Unfortunately, that’s not on the table for Threads. 

On the other hand, the new social media app still has lots of room to grow because it hasn’t launched in Europe yet. If Threads can keep its current userbase, the app could become a real competitor for Twitter, which reported nearly 238 million monetizable daily active users in the USA in its last quarterly earnings report as a public company last summer. It’s also very alluring to spend time there because Threads is ad-less and not filled with negativity as Twitter is. Threading resembles the friendlier, more peaceful days before Elon Musk’s ownership. The reason why people won’t have the tendency to showcase the same behaviour on Threads is because their identity is connected with their personal Instagram account. It’s hard to use Instagram and be completely anonymous. Instagram is the business card app where people DM and stay in touch with their friends or (business) network and where they post stories about their daily lives. Therefore, users are less likely to be vicious online because their identity is wrapped up in those words.  

Threads is here to stay and will probably be the replacement of Twitter, mainly because of Twitter’s negativity problem. Instagram is solidifying that it’s intertwined with people’s identities. An important sidenote is once you’ve downloaded Threads it’s linked to your Instagram account. Once installed, you won’t be able to delete Threads without deleting your Instagram as well. As Instagram is an online representation of a person’s identity consumers won’t be likely to remove the app as it’s seen as erasing a part of themselves. Maybe, in 10 years, people might even use Instagram as a form of a government ID. The platform is furthering that with an app like Threads.  

And if we look at what it can enhance Influencer Marketing wise, Threads gives creators the opportunity to do more storytelling about collaborations and brands. And unlike on Instagram, clickable links can immediately be added to the text. Next to that, brands and creators can further build & reinforce the bond with their community and enhance the engagement as their audience comes with them from Instagram.

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