Welcome to the Platform Smackdown🥊💥
Nearly a year after Elon Musk acquired Twitter, Meta released Threads. Both social media platforms have similar abilities, and we as digital marketers need to ask ourselves, how will these platforms add value to our business, and which platform should we use?
Before we can answer these questions, let's learn more about X (Twitter) and Threads.
The Fighters Enter the Ring 🛎️
In one corner, we have X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) ✖️
Before it was the newly rebranded X, Twitter pioneered the social space, providing users a platform to share thoughts, ideas, news, opinions, and even a meme or two in bite-size forms. The character limit encourages users and marketers to craft compelling content within a limited space. Under new leadership, X continues to evolve. Owner Elon Musk introduced Blue, a paid subscription that allows users to acquire the coveted blue verified check mark and access other app features to entice users to use the platform in a new way. The rebrand is just a part of Elon’s vision to create an “everything app.”
In the other corner is Meta’s Threads 🧵
The king of copycats and Musk’s mortal enemy.
Meta can be notorious for taking innovative ideas and incorporating them into their business model.
After the success of Snapchat, they successfully incorporated Stories into Instagram. The result led to Instagram Stories surpassing Snapchat's daily users by 40 million and gave advertisers utilizing Stories the ability to reach twice as many users as Snapchat.
After TikTok's success, they incorporated Reels, which has not provided the same results, so naturally, they thought, what app can we target next?
Launched in early July, built by the Instagram team under the parent company Meta, Threads, the new text-sharing and conversation-based social platform. Threads is an app from Instagram that allows you to post threads, reply to others, and follow profiles you're interested in.
Short pieces of text, links, photos, videos, or any combination of them can be included in threads and replies. People can also follow you to see your threads and replies in their feeds and from your profile. Threads connects to a user’s Instagram account, utilizing the same social handle and following. Threads is still a relatively new platform, and at first glance, Threads looks and acts very similar to X (formally known as Twitter.) Let’s look at the similarities and differences between these two platforms.
Similarities of X & Threads
- Black backgrounds and a white logo. (Yup, we're getting this petty)
- Allow users to share text, photos, and videos
- Chronological timeline
- Allow users to comment on and like posts
- Have a search function so users can find specific posts or users
- Encourage brands to engage in conversations with their audience to build community and relationships.
Now, let’s look at the differences!
Differences between X & Threads
X (FKA Twitter)
Must have Instagram Login
Free for basic
$8 / month for advanced
Mobile vs Desktop
Limited abilities on desktop. Developers say, “We’re working on it.”
Full app on mobile & desktop
500 characters max
280 character on Free
25k characters on Paid
Posts can include web links, images, gifs, and videos as long as 5 minutes.
Posts can include web links, images, gifs, polls, and videos as long as 140 seconds (2 hours if you pay).
Only visible to the user's followers.
Fostering an audience of close friends and family.
X posts can be made public.
Widening the reach of your posts to reach new audiences.
Feed includes threads from your immediate friends and recommended accounts.
You can view trending topics in a variety of categories and browse hashtags.
Ad-Free (for now)
User Gender breakdown: Males 68% and Females 32%
User Gender breakdown: Males 70% and Women 30%
Country Breakdown by user downloads: India followed by Brazil
Country Breakdown by users: US followed by Japan
How to use each platform effectively
While there is no clear winner in this fight, as marketers, we know we need to spread our bets (aka resources and ad dollars) appropriately to reach our audience effectively. Here’s the best way to utilize each platform in your marketing strategy.
Threads provide a more personal experience to share and connect with your Instagram following. Threads should be used to share a more personal and/or the fun side of your brand. This will allow you to foster rapport and trust with your audience. Keep in mind that this is your current following, so we’re talking organic social.
X (Formerly Twitter)
Continue to use X to promote your products, engage with your audience by responding to questions and concerns. Take advantage of X’s advertising to drive traffic to your website, and expand your brand reach. Take advantage of X’s analytic tools to better understand your audience and grow awareness of your brand. Be timely, use a variety of multimedia, and participate in trending conversations and hashtags to reach your audience holistically.
Social Marketer’s POV & Predictions
Ok so now let’s get real - as a Social Marketer of 8 years, I know these platforms are not perfect, and each platform comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some details you need to consider.
Advertising on Threads Is Planned
Currently, Threads is an ad-free app, but knowing Meta and hearing from their developers, it only seems like a matter of time until we see ads on the Threads platform.
We can assume that advertising will work on the platform through Meta Ads Manager, similar to Instagram. Providing vastly more advanced targeting abilities than X, and allowing the algorithm to show one ad on potentially three platforms. (Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.) This will allow marketers to stretch ad dollars and increase reach.
But here is the kicker, Meta has said advertising won’t be available until the app has hit a ‘critical mass,’ meaning the app will be ad-free until popularity booms. CURRENTLY, that is not happening!
Adweek reports that the platform has seen nearly an 80% decline in users since the launch (OOF.) Since its launch, the amount of time Americans have spent on Threads dropped from almost 21 minutes a day as of July 6 to just over three minutes per day as of August 7th (even bigger OOF.)
Threads needs to adapt and do it quickly. According to Adweek, brands have canceled Threads content strategy discussions and are simply not interested in the platform due to low user activity and the lack of advertising options. I couldn’t agree more. Unless Threads steps it up; it could be over before it even gets started.
But wait, before you announce X as the winner, let’s take a deeper look at the platform.
X Will Continue to Lose Their User Base & Ad Dollars
After the recent takeover, news outlets reported in early December 2022 that X was predicted to lose 32.7 million users over the next 2 years. If the tides change and Thread finds a spark, we may see that accelerate, The Guardian reports X’s traffic is sinking after the launch of Threads.
Now let’s pull information straight from the source, Elon’s X account. In mid-July Elon reported that the company was still in a hole due to nearly 50% of advertisers leaving the platform.
Why are advertisers leaving the platform?
Simple. When Elon acquired the company he made claims that he would be bringing back users who have been blocked from the platform.
New York Times reports that X’s ad sales staff is predicting that advertisers are concerned about a rise in hate speech, pornography, and ads promoting marijuana and online gambling.
This paired with the most recent news of Elon claiming they’re taking away the ability to block users, users and advertisers alike are showing concern.
Companies don’t want ads nestled in between content that doesn’t align with their brand or see users reply to ads using hate speech or pornography without any ability to block aggressive accounts. However, Elon assures that they’re seeing a record high for user engagement and they are sure they’ll see advertisers return to the platform.
So who wins?
As a social media marketer, I cannot declare a winner, each platform is different and they both are paired with shortcomings.
Take a look at your target audience demographics. If your audience is on one or both of these apps, then your marketing strategy should be adapted. Connecting with your audience in a unique way is key! The digital marketing landscape continues to evolve, and these apps provide brands with exciting opportunities to enhance their online presence and explore innovative marketing techniques.
How are you planning on using these platforms? Let us know on our socials!