Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are poised for a significant showdown in the app store with Meta’s Threads, a Twitter replica, scheduled to launch today (July 6th). Following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last year, internal turmoil at the company has increased the likelihood of a successful challenge to its dominance in the text-based social media realm, offering fresh opportunities and terrain for social media marketers. While previous attempts to overthrow Twitter have failed, the current tumultuous circumstances at Twitter HQ since Musk’s purchase present a more realistic threat.
Mark Zuckerberg has a history of imitating rival social media platforms to capitalise on their popularity and innovation. Instagram’s adoption of Stories during Snapchat’s heyday and the introduction of Reels to compete with TikTok are prime examples. Given the growth of Twitter users seeking alternative platforms in the wake of Musk’s leadership, the time is ripe to employ the tried and tested strategy of mimicry to challenge the well-established Twitter behemoth.
Recently, Musk’s Twitter has faced intense scrutiny due to controversial measures that have tested user loyalty. Restrictive actions have targeted non-paying users, including limiting unverified accounts to view a maximum of 600 tweets per day (later increased to 1,000). Additionally, TweetDeck, the platform’s list-based product, has become accessible only to Twitter Blue subscribers. Controversial decisions, such as lifting bans on alleged right-wing accounts, coupled with Musk’s erratic behaviour, have dampened advertisers’ interest and spending on the platform. Twitter’s lack of a press department does little to counter the impression of a chaotic situation. If the turmoil persists, it would not be an overstatement to say there is a genuine risk of Twitter fading away in the long term.
Should Threads gain traction, it will offer a new channel for global social media marketers and businesses (including law firms) to explore, strategize, scrutinize, and populate. However, the new app is not without flaws, as it allegedly collects sensitive user data, including health information, financial details, contact information, browsing history, location, and purchase records, which may raise concerns for some users. Interestingly, Threads was initially intended for release in 2019 as a response to Snapchat’s popularity but was subsequently pulled. Its launch now is very timely to take on both Snapchat and Twitter. However, successfully attracting the next generation by projecting a “cool” image will be a crucial challenge for Threads. Nevertheless, leveraging fellow Meta-owned Instagram’s existing user base of 2 billion active monthly users and simplifying the transition by allowing users to preserve their Instagram usernames on Threads provides the app with easy customer acquisition advantages and a fighting chance.
Only time will reveal whether Threads becomes a fleeting trend or emerges as a major player in the social media landscape, surpassing the achievements of previous endeavours like Jack Dorsey’s BlueSky, Donald Trump’s Truth, and the decentralized Mastodon. Elon Musk may find himself reconsidering the $40 billion purchase from last year or at the very least, feeling the pressure as competitors sense an opportunity for success.