Engage University Ep. 10: Twitter (X) vs. Threads
Hello! I am here with Jennifer and Ben from our team, as well as Marty and Rich from Bad Rhino. We are here today to discuss Threads as well as Twitter, which is also known as X.
What has been your experience using Threads?
Marty McDonald: I used it for like 10 minutes. I clicked the button on Instagram when it came up. I didn’t even know it was. So, I clicked on it, and I haven’t been back in since.
Jennifer Greenjack: I don’t think you’re alone there, Marty. There were 100 million users when Threads started. Now, the last metric I saw was they were down to 9.6 million active users – and I don’t know how active they actually are. Take that with a grain of salt, because everybody’s got different metrics. But it does seem like they just keep declining.
Rich DeMatteo: I jumped in and created two Threads with my go-to GIFs to see what, if anything, it could generate. I had one person like it. I just wanted to see what the capability is like and what it’s all about – like everyone was doing. You get your followers right away. But after those two Threads over the course of two days, I haven’t done one thing since. I’ve been in looking, but that’s about it. Just kind of looking around and seeing what’s possible which, so far, we’re not too sure.
Lauren Devens: It seems like people have similar experiences jumping on and seeing what the deal is. They bring over some of their followers from Instagram and maybe ask them questions to start conversations. But from metrics I’ve seen, people’s time on Threads has decreased significantly from 19 min down to 4 min on average per day. People may just jump on, look at a few Threads, and then leave.
Ben LeDonni: There’s not as much going on as these other established platforms. It’s brought me back a couple of times to be like, “Has anything changed here? Is there anything worthwhile to look at or read, or is somebody using this in a way that is new and innovative that it becomes a different and meaningful platform?” To me, none of those things have happened yet.
How are brands using Threads?
Rich: People don’t know how Threads is different from Twitter or Instagram, so brands don’t know how to use it right. The big brands all jumped in because of the auto sign-up option. You can bring over your 100,000 followers right away. The McDonald’s and the Wendy’s of the world can all have fun, but smaller brands have no idea what to do. So, it just trickles down where no one has any idea what to do.
Threads ends up just looking like everyone’s Instagram feed. The same images are being posted, or they’re trying text posts as they’d see on Twitter/X. It just feels like more of the same noise. It’s probably just that the functionality isn’t there yet, and it might never be.
You look at Facebook. You look at Instagram. You look at what those platforms offer in terms of social media, and Threads is being compared to Twitter. Is that really Meta’s audience as far as who Meta really focuses on and what the content is that comes across? People might have been expecting it to be something different, but it really isn’t. It seems like one more thing that people need to follow.
Twitter and the Web3 Movement
Ben: At the time Elon was buying Twitter, he was already immersed in the whole Web3 movement and paying creators through blockchain. When he first did it, my thought was, “Oh, great!” This is an easy way for him to take Twitter and have it be like content, syndication, and content, attribution, and all the things to kick back to creators, and he understands blockchain. He understands Web3. And this is an amazing platform with community built in to be able to just do that I think Crypto crashing and all the like stuff that happened soon thereafter stopped and really was like, “Okay, we’re gonna have to pivot.”
But playing the long game out still works. I mean that definitely still is an easy way for you to just not easy, but a good way for him to be able to say, “Create content on my platform. Community is built in.” Then, with Zuckerberg, think about how geeks would fight in Battle Bots. They basically deploy their own bots to fight against each other just the same way. And I’m a geek. I’m allowed to say this type of stuff, right?
The Fall of Twitter
Rich: In the last 5 years, Twitter’s engagement has been declining. In all of our conversations with clients, no one’s ever asked for a substitute for Twitter. I don’t know where that research was that people have been looking for another Twitter. And that’s what’s been confusing to me about it.
Ben: I’ve seen the main use case for Twitter was an instantaneous search tool for something that just happened, like a fire in my community. I can see the smoke but I can’t find out anything about it unless I go to a real immediate stream of something where my local community might be posting about it. I don’t honestly see another platform that exists like that. I don’t know that Facebook’s it, but I feel like that’s the only gap that I’ve seen as far as why to continue to use it.
Twitter Users’ Responses to the X Rebrand
Lauren: For about 10 years, I’ve been on Twitter pretty much every day. A lot of it came from being a fan of things. Twitter was a community where you could talk about events that just happened. I’ve made friends from Twitter, so I’ve really enjoyed that community aspect. I have noticed that Twitter engagement has been going down. People were not enjoying it seemingly as much.
But I’m seeing some very negative feelings from users about this transition to X to the point where they’re refusing to update the app so that the X branding places the bird. Or if it does get updated, they’re changing the name on their homescreen to say Twitter, and updating the logo themselves to be the bird. I haven’t personally seen any positive feedback about the change from Twitter to X.
Twitter / “X” for real-time updates and subcultures
Rich: Twitter “X” is still the best platform for searching for something specific. Like a sporting event, the Grammys, breaking news – people still go there to search to see what’s happening in the moment. If Threads is supposed to be a clone of Twitter, it’s a really crappy clone because you can’t search by content. When you go to search, you can only find users. If I type in the word ‘football,’ I just find football accounts. I can’t see any content, and that’s my primary reason for Twitter which I still use today is what’s happening here or industry-related stuff for clients, right? You can repurpose content.
You could get into a subculture, read everything about that, and then add your own thoughts. But Threads seems to be just for your own followers. At this point, you’re not going to really grow through that sort of second-level content. I think that’s what’s missing from it. They might add it later.
Should businesses stick to X or move to Threads?
Marty: If you’re already on Twitter, then stay on Twitter. If you don’t have a Twitter handle, get one. You don’t need to do anything yet, but you’ll just want to claim your real estate. Then, see how it plays out on Threads. Threads is useless at the moment unless you’re a huge brand. You might as well get a handle, but other than that, I wouldn’t spend a second on it.
Rich: You can’t track it. There’s nothing there to search with. So, why even be there? Once brands learn the amount of content they’d have to produce on Threads to really make an impact, they shy away real quickly. I always kind of start by asking clients, “What do you see as the purpose of the content on this platform?” And they can’t tell me one thing, and that’s kind of all you need to know. It would just be one more channel and more time to spend on something.
Ben: They’re all just different channels. If you’re already using Twitter and it’s working, great. Continue to leverage it. Do what you’re doing there that is working, and more of it. From a “what does threads offer” standpoint? If you don’t know the audience, you don’t know how they’re using it, or how you’re going to be able to engage them, why spend any time there? It’s like a billboard on a highway that’s not even your target market. Do the evaluation from a strategy standpoint to see where you should deploy your time and energy.
Jennifer: To Ben’s point, focusing on your market is where it’s really at. It’s great to claim your real estate, maybe on Twitter. But if that’s not the demographic you’re going after, just hold on to it for now. You never know if you’re gonna open up a new product or a new solution that appeals to a different demographic that uses that platform more often. But if Instagram is working, if Facebook’s working for you, focus your energy and your effort there. Maybe LinkedIn is working for you because you’re focusing more on B2B brands versus B2C. Just at who your customers are and where they’re gonna be.
Ben: You also have to remember the abundant failures of social media platforms that have come out over time. It’s not easy to maintain people’s time and attention. You’ve got Google with Circles and Vine, which was before its time. For Threads to come out and just assume that it’s going to take off and work is not easy. As far as Twitter and what Elon is doing with it to kind of build a lot of distrust – stealing people’s handles and things like that – they really do derail it.
Should users invest in Twitter Blue/X Premium?
Lauren: A major change that has been made since Elon took over was the introduction of Twitter Blue, and needing to pay $8 a month for that subscription that he recently renamed to X premium. A lot of people are saying that they’re having trouble gaining traction on Twitter and reaching their audience. One of the things that Twitter Blue did was give people higher rankings on the algorithm. So, if they are paying for Twitter Blue, then they’re gonna get seen higher in people’s timelines and in responses to popular tweets as opposed to the posts that just got the most amount of retweets and likes. So I was wondering if you’ve recommended to any of your clients to use Twitter Blue to try and reach their audiences better?
Marty: I haven’t done it for audience engagement, but I am highly in favor of Twitter Blue due to people stealing my identity and my company’s identity recently. If you have a business or a personal brand, I would recommend subscribing to Twitter Blue/X Premium to protect your own identity and the credibility of your company, I would highly recommend doing it.
Rich: We don’t have many clients these days using Twitter as an engagement platform. They’re using it to share links and push out certain things that can be found in search. No one currently is rapidly trying to grow their Twitter account on our end. That’s not something we’re pushing them to purchase for that reason right now, but it’s on the table as a conversation.
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