Threads vs X: a closer look at the ‘new Twitter’ 
by Sharyn Minton

For a minute at the start of July, it looked like we were all about to abandon Twitter (has anyone started calling it ‘X’ yet?) and jump ship to Threads, Meta’s new space for people to have real-time, public conversations. 

Threads amassed more than 100 million sign-ups in its debut week, with users and advertisers alike intrigued by the first real rival to Twitter, which appears to be imploding under the guardianship of Elon Musk. 

Temporary limitations on tweet views, the introduction of a membership-based verification system, hampering advertisers’ reach and a recent rebranding to X have all unsettled Twitter’s user community, prompting them to seek out a viable alternative.  

What’s the latest?                                                                  

After its initial surge, however, Threads’ momentum has stalled. According to Sensor Tower, daily active users plummeted by nearly 70% from their peak in the first week of July. The user base dwindled to roughly 13 million and the average daily time spent on the app plummeted from 19 minutes to just four minutes. 

But this is fairly standard stuff for any new social media platform.  

So, at the time of writing Twitter – or ‘X’ – maintains its dominant position with approximately 200 million daily active users, who spend an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform. 

The challenges faced by Threads can be partly attributed to the lack of key features that X provides, such as desktop compatibility and the capability to search for topics and hashtags. 

What’s coming next? 

While the initial excitement might’ve faded, this hasn’t deterred Meta from developing the platform. 

The updates being introduced to Threads are quite substantial, with the most noteworthy being the incorporation of a “Following” tab. Previously, users were limited to viewing threads exclusively on a “For You” page, which only displayed posts recommended by an algorithm. The new Following tab empowers users to see threads from the people that they follow, in chronological order. 

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said “this is just the beginning”, while urging users to persist in sharing their thoughts and aspirations for the platform. 

Alongside the introduction of the “Following” tab, several other notable enhancements have been introduced. These comprise features like post translations, a novel method for sorting notifications within the Activity tab, the addition of a follow button and an innovative approach to approving followers for private accounts. 

What about advertising on Threads? 

Don’t expect to be able to advertise on the platform anytime soon.  

According to Mosseri, advertisements are currently not a primary consideration. He said the priority is to “make sure this is an app people want to keep using before we worry about making money”. 

Fair enough. But the word on the street is that Meta is reportedly talking to advertisers. And when it finally opens Threads up to advertisers, brands are expected to pile on. 

The X replica possesses all the attributes that advertisers seek in a collaborator: a substantial audience, public intrigue and the possibility of tapping into Meta’s cutting-edge advertising resources. The moment Mark Zuckerberg extends his welcome, advertisers will seize the opportunity without delay. 

Generally speaking, marketers trust Meta’s advertising platform. It’s widely considered that it offers better targeting, placements and ad optimisation than X, while also boasting superior interfaces and capabilities. 

More importantly, Meta is seen as the safer option from a brand safety point of view.  

What should you do? 

Our advice is to watch this space.  

It won’t do any harm to get familiar with the platform as a minimum – you might even want to build up a bit of a following – so that when the advertising does eventually go live, you’re poised and ready to go. 

August 17, 2023

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