Why Threads will never be Twitter

Threads has experienced a nearly 70% decline in the number of daily active users since launch on 5 July 2023. And user engagement on the app continues to drop dramatically.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, recently launched its new social media platform, Threads, with much fanfare and anticipation. It came at the seemingly perfect time – when its most prominent competitor, Twitter, was going through a rebrand to X, as catapulted by its billionaire owner Elon Musk.

Initial enthusiasm surrounding the platform seems to have fizzled out quicker than expected, as reports suggest that Threads has already lost more than 50% of its users within a month of its launch. This downturn raises questions about the platform’s ability to compete with established giants like Twitter (now X, bit I’ll call it by its birth-name) and its relevance in the current social media landscape.

Competing in the shadows of giants

While Threads boasts some interesting features and claims to offer a unique social media experience, its struggles to retain users shine a spotlight on the challenges of entering an already saturated market.

Twitter, with its real-time news updates, engaged user-base has become a staple for users seeking quick updates and deep conversations. Threads, on the other hand, faces an uphill battle trying to differentiate itself from Twitter’s well-established niche in the social media catalogue.

Then there’s also Instagram, which is also owned by Meta. It has managed to position itself as a platform for visual storytelling and influencer marketing, creating a significant overlap in Threads’ potential user-base.

That’s kind of where I see Threads sitting – snugly between Twitter and Instagram. Problem is – I’m not sure there’s space here.

The changing landscape of social media

If there’s anything we’ve learnt in recent years, it’s that social media users are becoming more aware of the negative effects of social media.

Threads’ struggle to retain users might be indicative of this larger shift in user behaviour. Increasingly, people are becoming more cognizant of their screen time and the potential negative effects of constant digital engagement. The past decade has witnessed a growing awareness about the mental health implications of excessive social media use, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression in many cases.

This evolving awareness has led many individuals to adopt healthier digital habits, such as setting screen time limits, practising digital detoxes, and seeking more meaningful offline interactions. In this context, the launch of Threads seems untimely, as it attempts to capture an audience that is growing weary of the constant bombardment of information and notifications that social media platforms often entail.

The right move

Rather than another social media platform, what users truly crave are solutions that address the detrimental impact of existing platforms on mental health.

The desire for better mental well-being drives the adoption of tools and features that encourage mindful technology usage, such as “Screen Time” on iOS devices and “Digital Wellbeing” on Android devices. These features provide insights into users’ digital habits and enable them to set limits on their usage, reflecting a growing desire for a more balanced relationship with technology.

In a world where social media platforms are a dime a dozen, Meta’s Threads faces an uphill battle in carving out a unique space for itself. The platform’s rapid loss of users within a short period highlights the challenges of competing with well-established giants like Twitter and Instagram.

Moreover, as individuals become more conscious of their mental health and the adverse effects of social media, the demand shifts towards solutions that promote well-being and mindfulness in technology usage. Not another endless pit of despair that we can lose ourselves in.

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