July 11, 2023

Twitter, Threads and the Cage Match for Text-Based Social Supremacy

Twitter Creates an Opening

Since Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, the platform has been marred by capricious management and a succession of drastic changes aimed at free-speech maximalism, monetization and improving the user experience.

Concerns with paid verification, laissez-faire moderation policies and the platform’s shifting user base have made users and brands reconsider their platform presence. According to research from Pew, in May, 60% of Twitter’s most devoted users reported that they have recently taken a break from the platform, with a quarter of those users reporting they plan to quit the app entirely within the next year. Additionally, brands are slowing spending on the platform, with the New York Times reporting in June that Twitter’s advertising revenue was down 59% year-over-year.

Over the July 4 weekend, Twitter announced a “temporary” new policy limiting the number of tweets a user can view per day, in an apparent effort to prevent “data scraping and system manipulation” from bots. This latest disruption prompted Meta to hurry the release of its long-gestating Twitter competitor, Threads, which launched on July 5.

Threads vs. Twitter

Threads is Meta’s new text-based social-networking app. With an Instagram account required for access, the sign-up for existing Instagram users is seamless and allows them to immediately follow everyone on Threads whom they follow on Instagram. While a near-clone to Twitter’s interface, Threads still lacks some of Twitter’s basic functionality.

Whether Threads will overtake Twitter is yet to be seen, but the connection with Instagram has boosted early adoption as the new platform continues to gain attention and sees a flood of app downloads. At some point, Threads is likely to add promoted content and join Meta’s advertising ecosystem through a single interface, making it a seamless experience for brand advertising through Facebook, Instagram and now Threads.

Implications and Next Steps

Brand presence on platforms: There’s no immediate need to flee Twitter or to panic-post to Threads. However, BL recommends closely monitoring updates to these platforms and evaluating how recent developments impact your holistic social strategy and content efforts. With Meta’s advertising technology behind it and Instagram’s stringent moderation and verification policies in effect, it’s likely Threads will offer brands a stronger promise of brand safety than Twitter when Threads’ advertising capabilities debut.

Social listening: A strong social-listening strategy to monitor brand, competitive and industry terms is essential and highly encouraged for all of our clients to help navigate trends, conversations and issues management. BL recommends checking in with your social team and monitoring services to understand the impact that Twitter’s data-scraping policy and the addition of new Threads content will have on monitoring your brand’s and competitors’ health. While Threads is not yet available in third-party social-monitoring platforms, these platforms’ longstanding ties to Meta make it a likely addition soon.

Early adoption: For brands with wide consumer audiences, BL recommends jumping in and testing a variety of content early on. Brands like Starbucks, Netflix, Spotify, McDonald’s, the NFL and more have already cultivated hundreds of thousands to millions of followers and established a Threads-friendly voice and publishing cadence.

With recent popular social-app launches like TikTok and BeReal, we saw early-adopting brands achieve strong success and audience growth. While it’s okay not to have a full-fledged Threads social strategy yet, as much remains unknown about the platform, we encourage you to test and learn what works for your brand. Establishing an active presence now could sow the seeds of greater success as Threads continues to grow.

Ready to learn more? BL’s social experts are available throughout July for a 30-minute call at no cost to you to discuss Twitter, Threads and any other burning questions you may have about your social presence and strategy. Contact BL’s Head of PR & Social, Emily Mazurek at [email protected].


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