6 July 2023

Louis Eksteen

Is it goodbye to Twitter as Meta launches Threads?

As I’m writing, news just in is that the overnight launch of Meta’s intended Twitter killer app, Threads, has already signed up a huge number of users. In fact, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s own Threads, 30 million users signed up for the Threads app on its first day in the market. This makes it the fastest app sign up launch. Ever.

No wonder Twitter is all-aflutter. As news broke of the immediate and massive success of Threads, Twitter sent Meta a (fairly meek and mild, in my opinion) cease-and-desist letter. Too late, I’m afraid. The bird has already left its cage.

The reason is that Threads is a direct offshoot of the hugely popular image and video app Instagram. Bought by Meta for what now seems a ridiculously low price of $1 billion a few years ago, the Instagram app now boasts well more than two billion users. It’s also fun and easy to use. Lekker!

Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter for way too much at the end of last year, the digirati have been looking for an alternative. One of the most popular Twitter clones turned out to be Mastodon, a distributed “fediverse” not owned by anyone. It runs off what’s called instances, rather than on a single owned platform or server.

This system uses the open source ActivityPub, a protocol specified by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Mastodon is thus an implementation of ActivityPub.

Meta announced at the launch of Threads that it intends to, at a later stage, start using ActivityPub too, which means Threads will be able to allow interactions across decentralised, other fediverses. This could just turn out to be the killer move that spells the end of Twitter.

Musk has so far been his own worst enemy with Twitter. He is even more erratic in managing it than his other businesses and he has gutted the company by losing key staff, alienating advertisers and in general just not acting in the best interest of Twitter’s users.

Mark Zuckerberg has done the opposite. He’s fully capitalising on the well-resourced Instagram team, he’s made it super easy to sign up to Threads via your Instagram login and clearly has not skimped on the technical backend. It’s a fast and slick experience, which means huge server and availability-of-service investment. Now, I don’t like Zuck much, but with Threads, he may just have created the best possible app add-on for Instagram and Meta.

I signed up at launch and found the experience invigorating. I seldom use Twitter these days and now and again visit my Mastodon profile, but it’s clunky and difficult to use. Threads in contrast seems fun, new, easy and well, it’s just not Twitter. So I’m all in and wish them luck.

As I’m writing, I’m realising that it’s early days, or “day”, sure, but I really like and enjoy Threads at first sight and have loved it much, much more than the toxicity of Twitter. Immediately. For now, I’m a certainly an early Threads fan.

While it will take a long time for Meta to start monetising the new platform, they have a huge base of advertisers and tools already, much bigger and smarter than Twitter and they can relatively easily port advertisers over to Threads too. Then they will have the massive co-juggernauts of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Threads to offer businesses.

To our advertiser clients our right-off-the-bat advice is to stop advertising on Twitter, now, if they are and to consolidate social spend within Meta. They are sure to earn significantly more bang for their buck in this way. When Threads ads come on stream, it will simply add additional reach cost-efficiently in a non-toxic, brand-safe environment. What’s not to, er, Like?

Perhaps it’s time to buy Meta shares again.

For extra bonus marks, read more about Threads in The Guardian here.