Have you signed of for Threads, the new Zuck-hyped short-form text app? It’s the fastest social network to reach 100 million users, but that’s to be expected when Meta releases a “Twitter-killer” and promotes it on its uber-popular Instagram and Facebook services.
Threads is a new app built by the Instagram team for sharing text updates and joining public conversations. It’s currently a smartphone-only app that you sign up for using your Instagram account. Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.
Fun with Threads (so far)
I’ve used Threads since the first day and so far, I have enjoyed it.
Because Threads automatically integrates with Instagram, it makes it super easy to follow either all or a subset of the people you follow on Instagram.
The Instagram link also means that people who follow you on Instagram will know when you join Threads, so very quickly you can amass followers making Threads valuable right out of the gate.
Threads is easy to use!
So far at least, Threads feels like Twitter did back in 2008 when I used Twitter to engage with friends and colleagues.
Limitations of Threads
Threads has some significant downsides, although I suspect Meta will be enhancing the platform in the next months.
Without a desktop app or browser integration, there isn’t a way to make Threads part of your desktop workflow.
Threads doesn’t allow search for hashtags or keywords, so as a tool to find out what’s trending, it doesn’t rival Twitter.
I’ve used Twitter primarily for business and to engage with professional contacts and Instagram primarily to share personal stuff with friends. While there is certainly follower crossover in those worlds for me, those who only use Instagram for personal connections will need to add professional contacts to Threads if they want to use if for business.
Twitter (Musk) vs. Threads (Zuck)
Many people have reportedly left Twitter since Elon Musk’s purchase of the company and the changes he’s made to the app, and some advertisers have reportedly left the platform too.
That being said, I still believe that Twitter is here to stay, and it is highly unlikely that Threads will “kill” Twitter.
Twitter killers have failed so far
Several other social networks including Post, Bluesky, and Mastadon have popped up as alternatives to Twitter but so far haven't come close to the engagement of Twitter.
Like the network effect of fax machines in the 1980s, Twitter has already achieved a critical mass of influential users around the world. The cost of leaving the platform, much like deciding you wanted an alternative to fax in the days before wide availability of email, means the vast number of people you want to communicate with are unreachable.
Donald Trump learned this with his Truth Social platform. When he was kicked off Twitter, Trump thought that tens of millions of people would follow him onto another social network that is like Twitter. It just didn’t happen.
Twitter is the real-time social network of record
In our 24/7 real-time world, Twitter is where people go to say something on the record. Members of the media, politicians, governments, companies, influencers, and celebrities all use Twitter to instantly see and be seen.
The power of Twitter’s real-time influence cannot be overstated
When pundits compare Twitter with other social networks like Facebook, they typically look at advertising revenue or numbers of users. Those comparisons miss the outsized importance of Twitter as the central hub of how movers and shakers communicate and how the media writes stories by following the Twitter feeds of those who matter.
Meta can take Threads in several different directions
What I fear the most is the horrible Meta AI algorithm taking over Threads… When (not if) Meta begins selling ads on Threads, if the toxic aspects of AI takes over, and when Sp*ammers jump in, Threads will likely become a cesspool. So far that hasn’t happened, but Meta has a history of abusing users to add to its bottom line.
My guess is that If Zuck/Meta adds a twist or two to make Threads into a new kind of social network, I see greater than 75% chance of its long-term success. However, if Threads continues to be built as a simple me-too, anti-Musk “Twitter-killer”, I give it less than 25% chance of success.
Remember Google Plus, the “Facebook killer” from Google? It was shut down a few years ago.
Time will tell. When the brand spanking new, bright shiny object attractiveness of Threads wears off, we will see if it has long-term viability.