07 Aug 2023
Just Another Social Media Platform? A Deep Dive into Threads
Meta's new Threads app is on track to become the fastest-growing app of all time, with over 30 million people signing up in less than 24 hours of its launching. The app, which was released Wednesday 6th July, a day ahead of its scheduled release, enables users to sign up straight from their Instagram account. That means that once it's launched worldwide, more than 2 billion monthly active users may import their accounts into Threads.
Despite it being met with confusion and scepticism, it's well on track to usurp the current 'fastest-growing app' title holder in ChatGPT, which reached 100 million users in just two months earlier this year.
But is it worth the hype or is it just another social media site?
What is Instagram Threads?
A straightforward text-based conversation app that lets people compose and share messages in real-time, Threads has taken what Instagram does best and expanded that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas. Just like on Instagram, with Threads you can follow and connect with friends and creators who share your interests - including the people you follow on Instagram and beyond.
Working as an extension of your Instagram account, users of the app can keep the same login credentials and follow the same accounts they do on Instagram.
While most features mimic those of Twitter, its user interface design resembles Instagram’s, with the same heart, comment and share buttons and similarly placed tabs.
The New Twitter?
Threads come less than a year since Tesla Founder, Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion and introduced some controversial changes to the app including which users have a blue check next to their name - and why - a rate limit on how many tweets can be viewed and a radical rebranding, replacing the iconic Twitter bird logo with "X," which have ultimately altered what people see on the platform and how they interact with it.
“The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success,” he wrote. “That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.” - Zuckerberg
Nevertheless Twitter has been the go-to place to debate, joke and pontificate for over a decade; giving a voice to the voiceless. Being relevant was Twitter’s core strength as a platform. It’s the place people immediately went to know more. Sure, rivals have come and gone (Bluesky, Clubhouse etc.), but none have managed to attract the brands, celebrities and other cultural kitsch so it’ll be interesting to see if Threads has what it takes.
It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully, we will. - Zuckerberg
What Are The Major Difference?
Does Threads have enough features to take Twitter’s throne? Here's all the major differences you need to know about how the newcomer compares to the OG.
- ⌨️ Character Limit - Threads Wins 🧵
The prime allure of these text-based conversations apps is the restriction on the character count. Threads has a 500-character count limit whereas unverified Twitter users are limited to 280 characters. That being said, Twitter Blue subscribers can increase their character limit to 25,000 for $8 a month.
- 🔏 Account Creation - 50/50
As mentioned above, Threads works as an extension of your Instagram account which means you can’t sign up to Threads unless you have an Instagram account. Not only do your account details get automatically carried over from Instagram to Threads, but your login credentials double up as Threads login details as well, allowing for seamless integration of your close friends and contacts. Since Twitter is a standalone social media platform, an account on any other site is not necessary.
- 🗑️ Account Deletion - Twitter Wins 🐦
In the same vein as Facebook and Messenger - and one that has rightly ruffled feathers - once committed to Threads there is no going back without also deleting Instagram.
To clarify, you can deactivate your Threads account, which hides your Threads profile and content, you can set your profile to private, and you can delete individual threads posts – all without deleting your Instagram account. Threads is powered by Instagram, so right now it's just one account, but we're looking into a way to delete your Threads account separately. - Mosseri
Twitter, on the other hand, you can easily deactivate or delete your account.
“After your 30-day deactivation window, your Twitter account is permanently deleted. When you don’t log into your account during the 30-day window, it lets us know you want to permanently delete your Twitter account.” - Twitter
It’s also worth noting that accounts that users have already blocked on Instagram will also be automatically blocked on Threads and vice versa.
- 💸 Price - Threads Wins 🧵
Threads is free to download and use so there are no hidden subscriptions or features behind a paywall. Twitter though, there are a slew of features that are reserved for paying members of the platform’s “Twitter Blue” subscription tier. Twitter Blue starts at $8/month in available countries to get the blue checkmark in addition to early access to features.* As of now, subscribers can edit a tweet after sending it, tweet up to 25,000 characters, and most recently, a bigger rate limit of how many tweets you can read a day.
- ✅ Verification - Threads Wins 🧵
As mentioned previously, Threads allow you to carry your Instagram verification with you for no additional cost. This means you’ll automatically be verified on Threads if verified on Instagram. The authentication process on Twitter is a little more intricate though. Twitter verification used to be based on a person's public reputation, similar to Instagram, before Elon Musk took over. Now, a “Twitter Blue” subscription is the only way you can become Twitter verified.
- 🚫 Accessibility - Twitter Wins 🐦
Simple but important, Twitter can be accessed from all kinds of devices including your laptop or computer. Threads, however, can only be accessed from a smartphone or tablet. Not ideal for those who like to use social media platforms from their desktops.
- 💬 Messaging - Twitter Wins 🐦
Direct messaging is a common feature in most social media platforms. It enables users to communicate privately and is considered crucial for establishing relationships online. Unlike Twitter, you are unable to directly message another user and the only way to communicate on Threads is through comments.
- 📰 Advertisements - 50/50
Threads, as it stands, does not support advertising. This absence of ads can be seen as a positive aspect for users offering a more streamlined and focused user environment. However, Zuckerberg has suggested that it could be on the cards in the future stating that, ”our approach will be the same as all our other products. Make the products work well first, then see if we can get it on a clear path to 1 billion people and only then think about monetization at that point.”
- 📈 What’s Trending - Twitter Wins 🐦
Twitter's flagship feature is its trending topics, which highlight the most popular and talked-about topics on the platform at any given moment. Twitter's trending topics are constantly changing, giving users a real-time look at what's happening worldwide. Threads doesn’t have anything like this at the moment. For now, the only way to explore what’s on Threads is by scrolling through the home feed.
Although Threads is a good attempt on Meta's part to create an archnemesis for Twitter, the facts are that its popularity has, thus far, been short-lived. According to data from the market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the app has seen a 70% drop in the number of daily active users since its July 7 peak.
- ⚪️ Threads had over 100 million sign-ups in its first five days, surpassing ChatGPT to become the fastest app to reach 100 million users.
- ⚪️ Threads active daily users stands at around 13 million - down from 44 million - and the average daily time spend on the app is four minutes, which is down from its launch day peak of 19 minutes.
- ⚪️ For comparison, Twitter has around 200 million active daily users, and the average time spend on the app is 30 minutes.
- ⚪️ 124 million people have created a Threads profile, which equates to almost half of Twitter's active user base.
Twitter has been one of the biggest social media platforms since its inception, so it'll be hard to top it overnight but the scope of improvement is quite a lot, and with Meta executives planning more "retention-driving hooks," could see the app bridging the gap with Twitter more and more with time.
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