Meta’s new microblogging platform, Threads, has launched. In just five days, 100 million people have signed up to use the social media platform in order to promote themselves, their ideas, and their products and services. The question on the table is whether Threads will eventually replace Twitter, or be nothing more than a shooting star for a brief moment in cyber history. I’m not willing to say yet … although the sheer number of users suggests that Threads will make more of an impact than other Twitter competitors, like Bluesky or Mastodon.
A little history. Twitter launched on July 15, 2006. Within the first few days, 20,000 tweets had been made on the platform. The premise was that anybody, anywhere would be able to broadcast information to the entire world in 280-character messages. These messages could include #hashtags, which would serve to index the content and help people find out more about a news event, or person, or … whatever.
Why call it Twitter? The idea was inspired by bird calls. Birds have two methods of communicating with their neighbors. First are their songs—the cheerful melodies we love to hear in the morning, which are for saying hello, or I’m here, or whatever. Then there is the tweet. The bird will puff up its chest and burst out with a message that seems urgent. Immediate. Important.
For many years, Twitter was the go-to platform for breaking news, and also enabled people with similar interests to find one another and form digital communities. However, in recent months the experience of using Twitter has been drastically altered. Changes to the platform have made it less trustworthy and more difficult to use, and a significant portion of its user base has become highly politicized. Media outlets, government agencies, and private companies that used to rely on it to share timely information are finding this harder to do, and people like myself, who use it to filter news sources and follow a select few individuals, are frustrated by changes that complicate even these simple activities. People are leaving Twitter—and now Threads has come on the scene, hoping to be their new home.
There’s no denying that the way this platform has taken off is unprecedented. No other app has seen such astronomical growth in such a short period of time. But before you think Twitter is #DeaderThanADoornail, keep this growth in perspective. Through Facebook and Instagram, Meta already has access to billions of people, and has used that access to promote Threads. They’ve made it easy to sign up and transfer your contacts from those existing apps to this new one. So this growth shouldn’t be surprising. But just because people are signing up now doesn’t mean it’s destined to thrive as a Twitter replacement.
Now, what does Threads offer you compared to Twitter?
Threads allows 500-character posts, nearly double Twitter's 280.
Threads does not have #hashtag indexing yet, so you have no way of seeing what’s trending in the news. This is a huge negative. As a user, this means you’ll have to grow your follower count some other way. No one will be able to find your posts via #hashtags, as they can on Twitter. You won’t be able to see someone’s posts unless you’re already following them, or manually look them up. I believe they’ll add this feature shortly, but I’m not sure why they didn’t wait until it was ready before launching the platform. I think it’s critical to a successful launch.
Even for influential people, it will take time to build comparable follower counts on Threads. Take David Axelrod, for example. He has 1.4 million followers on Twitter, and only 4,000 on Threads. That number is sure to increase, but until it approaches the number of followers he has on Twitter, he’ll have to remain active on both platforms. How could he possibly drop Twitter for Threads as long as there’s such a discrepancy? So the necessity of being active on both platforms may hold Threads back for a while.
There is no direct messaging on Threads. Yet. They will have to launch that feature quickly. No way can they survive without it.
You can’t advertise on Threads. Yet. Again, I’m sure it’s in the works.
That’s it in a nutshell. Our recommendations? Set up a Threads account so you can secure both your own name and your company’s before they’re taken. Be sure and follow us and we'll follow you back. If you’re still tweeting, be sure to post the same content on Threads, at least for the time being. We’ll keep you posted with further impressions and advice as we move forward. If you have any questions, let us know.