So Meta launched Threads, a Twitter-like social media platform. Within a week of launching, Threads accumulated more than 100 million sign-ups, breaking the record of …. ChatGPT (which took 2 months).
Some have dubbed Threads “Twitter killer”, given the quick traction and especially when Twitter itself has been under a lot of turmoil since Elon Musk sunk in.
Our thoughts based on our experiences looking at tech platforms and their strategies:
- The timing of Threads’ launch is certainly attention grabbing – after Twitter decided to limit the number of tweets each user can see per day. Zuckerberg accepting the cage fight invite from Musk also (timely) added to the buzz;
- Although how much buzz actually led to the surge of user sign-ups is questionable. Most Threads users are converted from Instagram, which has between 2 and 2.5 billion monthly active users. Meta should have enough tools at its disposal to further (and probably quickly) convert more users – similar to TikTok’s efforts converting its 1.5 billion users into ecommerce users;
- We do not yet know how many of Threads’ users are disgruntled Twitter users – but it might not be as many as we would think. To give an example, while Temu extensively targeted SHEIN in many fronts, we learnt that as of May this year only less than 5% of SHEIN active users also use Temu;
- But while the overlap is not significant, Temu probably blocked SHEIN’s pathway for further user growth and ambitions to become a marketplace. Similarly, Threads, with its younger audience converted from Instagram, probably will block some growth potential of Twitter;
- The younger audience is important especially in the US, as the elections are coming soon. Politicians are probably wary about doing too much or anything on TikTok, and Instagram is not ideal for text, video and interactions;
- Threads app has definitely scored a very successful first step. Many celebrities and influencers have signed up, and judging from what we see, the engagement is pretty good too;
- Will Threads replace Twitter? At the moment we think it is unlikely. Twitter caters to a very different need compared to Instagram (and from the looks of it, Threads). Twitter is chaotic, sometimes harsh, but real. You read unfiltered perspectives, and engage in deep debates – something other platforms do not provide (and might not want to provide);
- Recently we did a poll with some friends of Momentum Works. On the question “Whether Threads will defenestrate Twitter”, the most voted answer is “No, I follow Twitter for quality thoughts, not my friends’ vacations”. There is a lot of truth in it;
- The competition between the two is still evolving. We think moving forwards, product decisions are probably important but ultimately the endgame will largely depend on the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk respectively. We have used many case studies to highlight the importance of leadership in tech companies’ prospects in the book Seeing the Unseen: Behind Chinese Tech Giants’ Global Venturing.