July 10, 2023

Twitter vs. Threads (and everyone else)

Jordan Henges

Senior Strategist, Social Media

The battle for social media supremacy is heating up, with Meta's latest app release, Threads, taking the world by storm. The app, which was released a day earlier than anticipated, has already amassed over 100 million sign-ups in its first 5 days. As a primarily text-based app, Threads complements Instagram as a platform for users to engage in more meaningful conversations.

Is Twitter officially dead?

Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter in the fall of 2022 has been met with heavy criticism and a steady decline in overall usership. The new owner has enacted a number of restrictions on the platform, including limits on the number of DMs, tweets, and followers that users can send or receive per day. In addition, unverified accounts are now limited to viewing 1,000 tweets per day, while verified accounts with a paid subscription can view up to 10,000 tweets per day.

These new restrictions have led to concerns among both brands and individual users about the future of the platform, and they have led to a decrease in the amount of content that users see on Twitter. This, in turn, has led to a decrease in reach for brands, both organic and paid. As a result, many brands are considering leaving Twitter and spending their advertising dollars elsewhere. The question was and is: where?

What is Threads?

Enter Instagram Threads. Originally a failed concept from 2021, Meta has relaunched a new and improved version of Threads to become the answer for users searching for a Twitter alternative. Developed by the team at Instagram, Meta describes the new platform as a place for “sharing text updates and joining public conversations.” Threads has similar basic features as Twitter, but its user experience and interface are more reminiscent of what you would find on Instagram.

When users scroll through their homepage, they will find short-form content from accounts they follow, as well as accounts recommended by Instagram's infamous algorithms. For now, Threads are primarily text-based posts, but users can also post carousels of static images and videos. Users can also have real-time conversations by replying to, reposting, and quoting other Threads.

And while many have been quick to point out the similarities between Threads and Twitter there are a few key differences:

  • Threads is directly linked to your Instagram account, so you can keep the same username, verification status, and follower list. You can also quickly share a thread to your Instagram Stories, and navigate to your Threads account directly from a link in your Instagram profile. However, this also means you can’t delete your Threads account without also removing your entire Instagram account.
  • Unlike Twitter and TikTok, Threads does not offer a way to view only threads from accounts you follow. Instead, your Threads homepage is a mix of content from accounts you follow and content that Instagram's algorithm thinks you'll find interesting. However, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has said that a follower-only and chronological feed is in the works.
  • There are no rate limits or restrictions for unverified accounts and Threads have increased character limits and video lengths compared to Twitter.
  • As of right now, there are no ads or paid opportunities but it’s likely this will become an option as the platform progresses.
  • The search capabilities on Threads are extremely limited — you can search for accounts, but trending topics and hashtags aren’t available yet.
  • Meta has stressed the importance of safety on Threads and users must abide by Instagram’s Community Guidelines. And because accounts are directly tied to personal Instagram accounts it isn’t as easy for users to post anonymously, experts predict we’ll see less negativity and hatred.

How to use it?

It’s easy! To sign up, download the app and log in with the same username, password, and account name as Instagram. Threads will then prompt users to follow all of the same accounts they follow on Instagram, exposing them to an already generated following immediately after joining the app. However, they can simply choose to ignore Instagram’s suggestions and pull together their own list of people to follow.

The process is remarkably user-friendly and takes only seconds to complete — a refreshing change from the norm when it comes to Meta products.

Best-in-Class Brands

Brands and influencers alike have quickly flocked to the new social media platform due to the ease of use and ability to quickly generate a following from their existing Instagram presence. In the first few hours of going live, the platform already had a significant brand presence.

The early days of a new social media channel are always like the wild, wild, west — a chaotic and fun mix of experimentation and discovery as users try to figure out how to make their mark on a new platform. Given that the platform is still in its infancy, it’s difficult to identify a specific strategy that will be successful for everyone. However, best-in-class social brands have quickly adapted to the platform and are experimenting with different content and engagement strategies to see what resonates with their audience.

Many brands are using a similar content strategy and tone of voice on Threads as they are on Twitter. In fact, some brands, such as Netflix, have even cross-posted content between the two platforms. However, with such a meteoric rise in popularity, users are posting at a much faster cadence than on Twitter. For example, in the last 24 hours, Wendy's has posted over 30 threads while only tweeting once.

Overall, content is fun and engaging with brands leaning heavily into questions and interacting directly with other brands. Most brands are taking an authentic Twitter-like approach that seems like it could be an intern on the other side of the phone.

What now?

Threads has been well-received by users and is showing no signs of slowing down. With increased frustration over new restrictions on Twitter, users are searching for a better alternative. And Threads, backed by Instagram's 2 billion active users, could be the final nail in Twitter's coffin.

Despite the potential challenges posed by the emergence of Threads, brands should still maintain their regular usage of Twitter until things become clearer. As for Instagram Threads, don't miss out on the opportunity to be a part of something big! It’s still too early to tell how long the momentum will last, but Threads has already garnered 100 million sign-ups in the first week. So we recommend brands lean into the new platform with a test-and-learn approach to see how to successfully leverage the platform.

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