Threads, Meta’s latest entry in the dynamic world of social media, has made a resounding entrance into the digital sphere.
But what does that mean?
In my fifteen-plus years in the digital industry, I have seen early pioneers like Friendster, MySpace, and Orkut mark the dawn of social networking. These pioneers introduced the concept of connecting with friends, sharing content, and expressing oneself online.
However, as technology advanced and user preferences shifted, these early platforms eventually faded into obscurity, unable to keep up with the rapidly evolving digital landscape.
Next, we entered the mighty era of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These platforms became the dominant players. Facebook connected billions of people worldwide, creating an unprecedented online community. Twitter revolutionised real-time information sharing, fostering conversations and enabling users to express themselves in 280 characters. Instagram revolutionised visual content sharing, appealing to users’ desire for immersive and visually appealing experiences.
Yet, while these platforms enjoyed immense success, they also faced their fair share of challenges. Privacy concerns, data breaches, and the proliferation of fake news raised questions about the ethical implications of social media. Trolling, harassment, and cyberbullying became rampant issues, tarnishing the user experience and undermining the potential of these platforms.
As users became more discerning and aware of the downsides of established social media platforms, a growing desire for change emerged.
Enter Meta’s Threads app
The rapid and exponential growth of Threads was astonishing. Within its first 24 hours, it amassed over 30 million users (which also included me). This made the app the fastest-downloaded app ever. This impressive achievement showcased its widespread appeal and global ambition, further reinforced by its launch in 100 countries.
So, what exactly is Threads? Described by Mark Zuckerberg and his Meta team, Thread is “Instagram’s text-based conversation app,” which focuses primarily on written communication, setting it apart from its parent platform, Instagram, which revolves around visuals and captions.
“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow. Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”
In many ways, Threads bears a striking resemblance to Twitter. Just as Instagram introduced Reels to rival TikTok and incorporated disappearing stories to compete with Snapchat, Threads represents Meta’s attempt to enter the realm of microblogging and provide disillusioned users with an alternative to Twitter.
In fact, during discussions about Threads before its launch, Meta’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, openly referred to it as their response to Twitter. He expressed that Meta had received feedback from creators and public figures interested in a well-managed platform that served as a counterpoint to the chaotic leadership of Twitter, an apparent reference to Elon Musk’s tenure.
Unsurprisingly, Musk has responded to Threads with a threat of legal action, alleging that the app is a copycat that infringes upon Twitter’s intellectual property rights.
A Twitter Clone or More?
It isn’t just unhappy Twitter users who have flocked to Threads. The platform’s integration with Instagram has significantly impacted its instant success. This seamless connection has enabled new users to effortlessly transfer their Instagram accounts and the profiles they follow onto the app, which is especially appealing to creators, influencers, and those with a large following. By eliminating the need to start from scratch, Threads has attracted a substantial user base and expanded its social network.
Threads’ appeal extends beyond mere convenience, offering users a dynamic and immersive experience. The platform enables embedding quizzes, polls, photos, gifs and threaded discussions, adding a new dimension to interaction.
This emphasis on conversation-driven engagement benefits content creators and businesses seeking to connect with their audiences through textual interactions, providing a fresh avenue for creativity and audience engagement.
Nevertheless, a lingering concern remains. Other Twitter competitors already launched, such as Bluesky, Mastadon and Spill, have struggled to become equal to and surpass Twitter as the go-to app for text-based conversations or live updates on current events. But those startup companies did not have the parent company that Threads does.
Threads offer a refreshing alternative to existing platforms, but its success will depend on its ability to stay ahead of the curve.
User feedback and experiences will be crucial in shaping Threads’ trajectory. As users continue to explore the platform and contribute to its growth, their insights and suggestions will guide its development. Through this ongoing dialogue between Threads and its users, the platform should hopefully evolve and improve.
I also hope Threads will avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Twitter, steering clear of becoming a battleground dominated by politicians, news broadcasters, trolls, and keyboard warriors.
I hope Meta honours its commitment to prioritising user well-being, fostering a positive and inclusive atmosphere, and cultivating an environment where meaningful conversations thrive, and positivity is encouraged. If they can, then Threads has the potential to redefine the way we interact online.