In the world of content platforms and social media, competition is a good thing. Whether you love Twitter - sorry, X - or hate it, you have to admit that real competition is good for everyone.
So when Threads launched, I was immediately happy to see it. Certainly I have no special love for Meta or any particular dislike of Twitter (cough sorry again… “X”), but my hope was that the rise of a solid competitor to Musk’s platform would encourage Musk and team to innovate and others to copy what Twitter did right.
And, again, love it or hate it you have to admit that Twitter has done a lot right over the years. Sure, we can talk about Twitter Blue or any of the many past scandals that have arisen out of the cesspool of 140-character land, but it remains a popular tool for connecting with others, growing brands and sharing thoughts - good or bad.
Not long after the launch of Threads, I jumped at the opportunity to join. But I was immediately put off by the fact that an Instagram account is required to set up an account.
“Ok,” I thought. “That’s weird.” And so I created a dedicated Instagram account just so I could use Threads.
Not a fan.
But I tried it, and I have some thoughts.
What I liked about Threads
Twitter has had a rocky history - at best. No few controversies have stirred because of the platform. And Elon Musk’s takeover has been quite controversial indeed.
As much as I don’t like Meta, I’m all in favor of competition. I believe competition drives improvement for everyone. When one platform works hard to compete with others, we all benefit - whether we like or hate those platforms or not. For example, when YouTube, Facebook and Instagram started competing with TikTok and introduced shorts and reels, users of those platforms benefited.
When Threads launched, those who like short form text content had a Twitter-alternative backed by the Meta brand name (love it or hate it). So I’m looking forward to seeing what benefits Twitter/X users and Threads users see as a result of the competition.
Secondly, I do appreciate how easy it is for those who already use Instagram to automatically follow all the same accounts on Threads if those users have set up Threads accounts as well, making getting set up on Threads relatively easy.
What I didn’t like about Threads
For all the good of Threads, there is one major thing that I can’t stand about the platform.
Whatever the benefits of being linked to Instagram may be, I hate the fact that in order to join Threads, an Instagram account is required. Yes, linking the two does make it easy to get set up quickly on Threads, but to require that? That doesn’t seem logical to me.
Why exactly Meta, the company that owns Threads and Instagram, requires an Instagram account to join Threads, I think it’s most likely they want to boost Instagram membership.
But personally, I loathe Instagram. It has legitimate uses. Of course. But there’s just too much junk on that platform. Too much flashy, look-at-me garbage. Not my style.
Twitter, on the other hand, I like(ish). Because, while there’s still junk there too, it’s a great place to network and learn from other people. I like it for that.
If Threads is really going to copy Twitter (X), it needs to drop the Instagram requirement.
Truly, I’m happy to see a true competitor to Twitter (X), but this isn’t what I was hoping for. I don’t want to have to be a member of two platforms – one of which I despise – to use Threads.
More than 80% of Threads users have jumped ship.
Whatever we may have hoped to see from Threads, undeniably its launch was massively successful - at first. But now, some weeks later, over 80% of its users are no longer actively using the platform, according to Gizmodo.
That has to sting a bit.
The initial surge of users was nothing short of impressive, no doubt fueled in part by the success of Meta’s other platforms: Facebook and Instagram. But the initial user experience seemed a bit rocky to me. At launch, there was no way to fully interact with Threads outside of the smartphone app. But what about those who – like me – would very much prefer to use a web browser on a Mac or PC? Fortunately the website is is up now.
And initially, I found it frustrating that my feed was filled with so many random accounts that I hadn’t chosen to follow.
I have little doubt that those initial issues drove some people away. I do wonder if Threads’ numbers will recover over time.
Ultimately, that’s what will make or break Threads. A platform – no matter how cool – is worthless if it’s not used. Right now Twitter/X remains the king in that department as the platform that has influencers, politicians, presidents, CEOs, and brands from all around the globe. Right now, Threads doesn’t exactly have that.
Yes, they have lots of people signed up, but the number that really matters is how many people are actually using the platform each month. And right now, it’s not looking too happy for Threads.
Will you stay on Threads?
Personally I plan to keep the Side Hustle Road account on Threads for now. But I don’t intend to use the site for much else at the moment. That may change in time.
I’m curious to see what Meta does with the platform and how Twitter/X responds. I believe competition is good for end users, but that doesn’t mean we have to be on every possible platform. In fact, arguably, we shouldn’t be on every one.
Over time, Threads may become a big player in the platform wars, its past issues and loss of users notwithstanding. I’m curious to see what some big name brands and influencers do – or don’t do – with the platform, and I think Meta could make it a strong competitor for Twitter/X if they wanted.
It’ll be interesting to watch.