Meta’s new social platform could be a game-changer—or an also-ran
Meta calls its new social media platform Threads, and since it went live less than 24 hours ago—we’re writing this on Thursday afternoon, July 6—the media coverage has been widespread and intense. We doubt there’s a sentient being anywhere who hasn’t heard the news.
What’s more, in a world where “news” gets old faster than last week’s lunch meats, the Threads story seems likely to be around for a while. Meta describes Threads as a “new app…for sharing text updates and joining public conversations.” Like Instagram, its elder sibling, Threads lets users post photos and videos, but also enables sharing of texts, conversations and links. In other words, Threads sounds a lot like Twitter, except that it’s much better—or possibly not nearly as good.
At Carpenter Group, much of our work with clients involves creating, optimizing and monitoring social media strategies as a means of building brands and markets and enhancing communication. So we can’t help being at least a little excited at the advent of new tools like Threads. Yet questions abound: Is Threads a must-have, a nice-to-have or a who-needs-it? Will it be a game-changer or an also-ran? As of this writing, some 30 million users, including Oprah Winfrey, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Tom Brady have signed on. (Lionel Messi, Barack Obama and Taylor Swift have not.) Corporate signees include McDonald’s, Netflix, the WNBA and Charles Schwab. In the blue-penciled words of Joe Biden, “This is a big deal.”
“We are working toward making Threads compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that we believe can shape the future of the internet,” says Mark Zuckerberg. Of course, Meta is working no less purposefully toward knocking Elon Musk’s big blue bird off its perch.
If that happens, it will be a first. While there have been numerous pretenders to the social media throne—Spill, Mastodon, Bluesky, T2 Social and even Truth Social come to mind—none has proven a serious threat to Twitter’s hegemony. Musk wasted no sniffing at Zuckerberg’s arriviste effort, Tweeting, “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.”
If Threads is to succeed, it will need to vastly expand its geographic footprint. In a world that shrinks faster than a cheap t-shirt, social platforms operate globally or not at all. For now, that’s not Threads. Indeed, in an act of aberrant candor, an About Threads page in Meta’s Instagram Help Center leads with the statement, “Threads currently isn’t available to everyone.” No, it isn’t. Threads is accessible in the US and UK and 100 other countries but is not available in the EU. Nor does it offer direct-messaging or livestream options, like Twitter. On the other hand, it allows for significantly longer text and video posts—500 characters and five minutes, compared to Twitter’s 280-character/2.2-minute limits.
Will Threads bring about the demise of Twitter? Across the media—social and old-school alike—content creators, journalists and headline writers have dubbed Threads a “Twitter Killer,” but no one has a line on which platform will prevail, any more than we can predict the outcome of a Zuckerberg-Musk cage fight. Both battles will be interesting to watch, though. Think David and Goliath—but with Sasquatch subbing for David.