What Meta’s Threads Means to Brands, PR and Marketing
Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t need to enter a Las Vegas cage to deliver a lethal blow to Elon Musk.
He did it with the launch of the Twitter competitor, Threads. CBS News reported: “Threads had been slated to be released at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on July 6, but the company on Wednesday pushed forward its countdown clock to 7 p.m. Eastern time on July 5.”
Mark that down as the time of death. The rapture has started. Rolling Stone noted late Wednesday: “As Twitter Falters, Threads Surpasses 5 Million Sign Ups on Day One.”
Sure, the media have published epitaphs before. In November, Business Insider predicted: “The death of Twitter won’t be the dramatic explosion you might expect.” Three months later, TechCrunch declared: “Twitter is dying.” In April, Vox asked: “Is Twitter finally dying?”
In the Business Insider article, Matt Weinberger wrote: “Twitter will end how most social networks end: a long, slow decline into irrelevance.”
I don’t think it will be that slow.
While Musk named Linda Yaccarino CEO in May, he can’t get out of the way. His latest self-inflicted wound happened this weekend. The New York Times reported: “Musk Says Twitter Is Limiting Number of Posts Users Can Read.” The Atlantic was dire in its assessment: “Elon Musk Broke Twitter.”
Regardless of the misstep, the preponderance of reporting focuses on a central narrative: Musk’s dogmatic tinkering keeps turning off users. It’s almost biblical: Musk is his own worst enemy. Many media accounts didn’t factor in a credible competitor to come along. There were Mastodon and BlueSky, but many would-be users were turned off by needing to rebuild their social networks from scratch.
That has now changed.
Threads feels like Twitter, but you can also port your Instagram credentials and followers to start your account. Everything feels familiar, from layout to character limits. For brands that already have Instagram accounts, this makes creating a Threads account frictionless.
Connor Grant, the senior social media director at Bospar, revealed his concerns about that approach – and Meta. “The point about importing your followers from Instagram is actually a drawback because your Instagram followers are likely pretty different from your Twitter followers,” Grant said. “For example, I don’t follow reporters on Instagram, but I do on Twitter. Do we need another social media platform? Especially one with an owner that has a history of data breaches?”
Considering Meta’s resources and reach, I think most consumer brands will dive headfirst into Threads. Hours after Threads launched, Amazon, Target and Macy’s official accounts were open for business. B2B brands will carve out a separate niche within Threads, but it will be gradual. While Hubspot has a page, most B2B companies, such as Salesforce, Adobe and IBM, have yet to join.
“B2B Brands have nothing to lose by creating accounts and monitoring the new platform, to see how they might take advantage,” said Eric Chemi, senior vice president of broadcast at Bospar. “But true audiences will only come if there’s engaging content from real people. Nobody wants to feel bombarded by big corporate giants.”
How will brands allocate their resources for social media campaigns and activations? Some companies will split their Instagram spend 50-50 between legacy Instagram and the new Threads offering. I suspect the folks at Meta have convincing data that proves that Twitter-like behavior and people are a separate group and spend, leaving brands with a choice: Twitter or Threads?
That brings us to Threads’ ultimate killer app: Zuck himself. Or at least that Zuck is not Musk. Critics have complained that Zuck comes off as an unemotional robot, but for brands, Zuck’s predictable Spock would be a relative reprieve from the mercurial rage of Musk’s Khan. Perhaps that means a knockout punch isn’t what we should expect, but rather a Vulcan nerve pinch.
Whatever means of death, it’s no longer clouded in hypotheticals with words like “eventually” and “someday.” We are now at the level of the board game “Clue” when it comes to specifics: we know who did it (Zuck) and with what (Threads). We even know when (July 5, 2023, at 7 p.m. EDT). It’s now just a matter of how long it takes for death to set in.