Will Threads Make Your Dreams Come True?

Potentially another TikTok land-grab

If you think back to the rise of TikTok in 2019-2020, the time felt like a land rush.

The results for many were extraordinary. Mainly, because the strategic landscape changed. There was an actual, virtual, land-grab. Many businesses were born or found new life within the chaos, before their bigger and slower competitors worked up the nerve to take resources from their old positions and place them on the new medium.

Now, Meta has just launched their Twitter competitor Threads. According to Zuck, they’ve already signed up north of 50M users in the first week.

The question I want to attempt to answer in this newsletter is:

Is Threads another land-grab opportunity for marketing and distribution? And If so, how should we take part in the land grab?

The Inherent Risk

To understand whether or not there is an opportunity on Threads, first, you have to understand the bigger game at play.

When Elon had the Twitter deal in escrow, he was asked if he would make a Twitter competitor should the deal fall apart.

His answer was yes, but he admitted that the undertaking would be much more difficult that way.

Looking back I don’t think he knew what shape Twitter was in, and I bet it has already turned out much more difficult than he expected. However, even though he likely over-paid in the tens of billions, acquiring Twitter was still much cheaper than competing with them.

That’s mainly for one reason, and the launch of Threads proves this even more.

Twitter is the undisputed leader in its category. And as we often mention in this newsletter, trying to fight a war of attrition (where both sides have basically the same attributes), against a dug-in defender, is incredibly expensive.

Take for example the LIV golf group that de-throned the PGA in more recent times. In LIV’s first year in operation, it spent about 8 times ($800M) the PGA’s yearly revenue ($110M). And LIV is already committed to spending more next year.

So to see Zuck launch Threads shows me 2 things:

  1. Twitter is undeniably the category leader (the one being copied is almost always the leader).

  2. Meta believes Twitter’s current weaknesses and their current strengths are enough to turn the tide and conquer the territory.

Frankly, I’m not very bullish on Threads taking over leadership. But they’ve already done well enough that the opportunity is obviously worth analyzing.

Is this good for you?

Then there is the question of whether or not this competition is good for us who use the platforms to promote our businesses and reach new consumers.

First, let’s go over some basic scenarios.

If you assume nothing will become of Threads, and pay zero attention to it, your assumption could be wrong. That doesn’t automatically mean you lose. But it could create these conditions:

  1. Your customers and potential customers could decide that they prefer Threads to the other channels you’re marketing on and you could lose touch with them.

  2. Your competitors can then jump into that space free and clear and take hold of strong positions.

Both of those are problematic. But, your customers could not care about threads in which case those wouldn’t matter.

It could also go the other way around. You could assume Threads will be the new place to be, but your customers don’t care at all. In which case you will have wasted a lot of time and resources taking a position that doesn’t have any strategic relevance.

In all, I’m going to say that overall, this competition is good for us.

Competition - and I mean real competition, not competition in the way that car companies call themselves competitors but really form oligopolies and cartels - creates chaotic environments. And in chaotic environments, there is an opportunity for smaller players to get valuable positions.

If Twitter and Threads have to split up and divide the category I suspect these few things to happen:

  1. They will compete to incentivize great content creators to jump on the platform.

Twitter is already adopting the strategy of doing revenue shares with their creators.

Thread’s strategy, I’ll assume, is to make the change extremely easy for new users (you can use your Instagram account to log in, and you can just copy and paste your Twitter content) and encourage them with cheap impressions.

I have a hard time believing Meta will suddenly decide to start sharing revenue with creators on the platform.

  1. Threads will bring a lot of new consumers back into a tweet-style written format.

Instagram has 1.2B monthly active users compared to Twitter’s 450M monthly active users (keep in mind this number has been growing since Elon’s takeover). Meta’s launch and product strategy has been to make Thread’s a subset of Instagram specifically.

What that has meant, and the reason for the skyrocketing growth, is they are dragging their Instagram users over to Threads. From Instagram, there’s a 2 click process to create a Threads account. In that basket, there are potentially a lot of users who will join threads, who were never very active on Twitter in the first place.

If your marketing strategy has been mainly on Twitter, this should excite you because it’s the same format of content for completely new users. That means operationally, it’s a few extra pennies to get content distributed to a whole new audience.

In other words, if you are already pursuing a Twitter content strategy, it’s a cheap and worthwhile hedge to be pushing yourself on Threads as well.

How to approach the land grab

The next question is how can you take advantage of the opportunity?

In general, one of the rules of chaotic environments is that there are no standard operating procedures. By the time there are guides on how to act in the environment it is no longer chaotic and most of the opportunity is off of the table.

The lack of best practices stops most people from participating. For example, right now on Threads, there is no desktop version and no API.

That is going to stop most creators and companies who rely on 3rd party software to engage on social media platforms efficiently.

If I, for example, wanted to write content on my computer (which I normally do) and then post regularly to Threads, I’ll have to copy the content from my computer to my phone, and then paste it to the Threads app (which is exactly what I’ll do).

That little piece of friction will likely stop most people. And especially companies that have SOPs for their whole content creation process.

That leaves a ton of room for the scrappy players who understand that there is friction because no one else is doing it yet.

As soon as Threads launches its API (which they will do soon), and all the 3rd party social media tools adopt it as a network, then it becomes easy for everybody. And easy for everybody turns into a lot more competition on the battlefield.

In other words, it will be difficult because there are no tools that create efficiency but easy because that will deter most of the competition for attention on the platform.

The thing is, Threads is identical to Twitter. So everybody who is familiar with Twitter already knows how Threads is supposed to function. For that reason adoption will be quicker than say TikTok which had a new format people had to get used to creating for.

If we had to break down a Threads strategy based on first principles it would look something like this:

  1. Act fast before everyone else starts competing with you.

  2. Prioritize quality product (content) and let the larger factors at play be responsible for growth.

  3. Build relationships and alliances early with the people participating in the land grab with you. A lot of people will build big distribution networks on the platform, and right now they are not getting a lot of requests.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, we can have an educated guess on whether or not Threads is here to stay or a flash in the pan. But they are still guesses.

Instead of assuming and going all in or rejecting the idea altogether, it’s better to do an analysis for yourself and see if given the possible pros and cons, is it a responsible choice for you to spend resources on a chance like this.

Take the time to figure out how much it would cost in effort and resources to implement a process for this new channel. If the cost is greater than the potential reward divided by the probability it happens, then don’t commit and keep going your course.

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