Akshit Pushkarna and Yash Bhatia

Zuckerberg vs Musk: Will Meta’s ‘Threads’ rekindle brand interest in text-based microblogging?

As text-based microblogging platform Twitter loses interest, Meta announced a rival social media platform ‘Threads’. But how will Meta’s new offering in the space fare? Industry heads opine.

In the dynamic social media landscape, tech giant Meta unveiled a new platform ‘Threads’, which will operate under Instagram. With Threads, Meta is foraying into the text-based digital conversation space. Twitter has been the most prominent player in this space, globally. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg pitched Threads as a “friendly” rival to Twitter. 

The platform garnered 30 million users within 18 hours of its launch. Prominent personalities from India S Jaishankar (minister of external affairs), Nikhil Kamath (co-founder, Zerodha), Ashneer Grover( former co-founder, BharatPe), Kunal Shah (founder, CRED), Vijay Shekhar Sharma (founder, Paytm), and Anupam Mittal (founder, Shaadi.com), among others, have joined the platform on its first day of launch.

From the actors, the list includes Diljit Dosanjh, Kajol, Taapsee Pannu, Tamannaah Bhatia, Parineeti Chopra, Sunny Leone, Twinkle Khanna, Masaba Gupta.

Traditionally, twitter, as a platform, was known to be the host of debates on trending topics. But, after it got acquired by Tesla chief Elon Musk, the platform itself became a hot topic of discussion.

Twitter saw a slew of operational changes under the new leadership, like the introduction of paid subscriptions for the blue tick verification, banning of links to competitive social media platforms, among others. 

Many of the new updates, have attracted controversy. As a result, Twitter’s user base has gone down to 353.90 million, a decline of about 4% from the 368 million monthly active users it had in 2022, according to reports.

The unveiling of Threads couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Recently, Musk’s announcement of limiting the user interface, drew a lot of flak from Twitter’s existing user base. Users, disgruntled by regular changes on Twitter, are now on a lookout for an alternative. 

“With his decisions, Musk is challenging what was done before, and is creating a new identity for Twitter. Twitter's USP was that it allowed users to become aware of and be a part of developments. With the recent changes, chances are other social media platforms will use the fact that Twitter is moving away from its initial USP, to their advantage. Twitter’s recent moves indicate that it is looking at building a connection with a more premium audience,” Dr Kushal Sanghvi, head - India and SEA, CitrusAd, opines.

Also Read: #RIPTwitter: Will Musk's Twitter rate limits further dampen user interest?

After the introduction of Twitter rate limits, Eugen Rochko, creator and chief executive of its rival Mastodon, said that the user base of the platform grew by 1.1 lakh in a day’s time.

Bluesky Social, started by Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey, also saw a sizeable jump in its user base. CNBC reported that more than 58,000 people signed up for Bluesky during the weekend of Musk’s rate limit announcement.

However, in the digital realm, the audience size commanded by Meta platforms is significantly greater than other social media companies. Ten million people joined Threads within seven hours of its introduction. 

Ambika Sharma, founder and managing director, Pulp Strategy, observes that the audience size is 10 times that of Twitter. A report by Statista found out that more than 77% of Internet users, about 3.59 billion people, are active on at least one Meta platform in 2022. The company can leverage its existing user base to promote the new platform. 

“Meta has a more advanced relationship management and support system with agencies, when compared with Twitter. Therefore, it is better placed to get marketing campaigns once they start to monetise Threads. The platform has been integrated with Instagram quite powerfully. If they are able to integrate the entire ecosystem of content creators, advertisers and agencies, Threads will become a sizeable contender in the space,” she says.

As a first time user, it is a bit hard to distinguish Threads’ interface from that of Twitter. Threads interface allows instant conversations, using a mixture of text and images, under a 500 character limit. It's interface is really similar to Twitter, the internet observed. Musk also reacted to this.

However, Threads can still be a game changer for advertisers, Shivani Kamdar, associate creative director, SoCheers, observes. She says that Meta’s Instagram has emerged as the most preferred platform for brand advertisers.

Integrating Threads with Instagram can make it easier for brand’s to harness multiple types of mediums in the digital space simultaneously. Hence, Meta can channelise more brand associations and partnerships for Threads via Instagram. 

“Brands will be approaching Meta for brand integrations in Instagram, Facebook and Threads simultaneously now. It will be a better deal for brands, as it will save them from the hassle of reaching out to multiple companies to ensure reach. From a digital advertising perspective, Twitter was winning the game on social media mentions and the marketing spends front. Brands have been using it to create banters and tracking social media mentions primarily. They often use screenshots of Twitter banter on Instagram as well. With Threads, Meta has filled that gap in its own ambit. Many brands may stop using Twitter altogether,” she adds.

Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and CEO, White Rivers Media, opines that Threads is not a ‘threat’ to Twitter, but an opportunity for marketers. It gives marketers a chance to diversify their strategies and connect with audiences on a new platform with a new approach.  

“Threads is billed to be a text-based version of Instagram, but let’s not forget that visual content still holds immense importance in many brand strategies. So, text-based platforms may not completely overshadow visual-centric ones, but they can provide an additional avenue for brands to diversify their marketing efforts and connect with audiences who value textual communication,” he asserts.

A significant factor in Instagram’s growth, has been the influencer base it has developed over the years. However, not many influencers are known for leveraging Twitter as their medium of choice.  

Gautam Madhwan, founder and CEO, Mad Influence, believes that the influencers active on Meta platforms, will quickly embrace Threads. New creators from the Twitter space will also adopt the medium.

“People who were hesitant to express their political or social opinions on Twitter, may find a more comfortable space in Threads. The character quotient recently introduced on Twitter can also help Threads, offering a fresh perspective,” he adds. 

Aziz Khan, co-founder and CRO, RVCJ Digital Media, believes that Twitter has reached a point of saturation in India. It has left a gap. He adds that in India, Twitter’s alternative Koo has struggled to perform well and lacks international recognition. Hence, Threads may effectively fill the void. 

“Linking Threads with Instagram opens up an opportunity for a multitude of new users, who may have never considered Twitter as their platform of choice. It provides them with a text-based platform to explore and engage with. This integration will, undoubtedly, add significant value to Threads,” he adds.

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