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Threads won’t be fun, but brands can escape Twitter with them

Twitter may never return.

Twitter, the preeminent Twitter of its time, offered a lively, often incoherent mix of paradigm-shifting cultural phenomena (Arab Spring, the Me Too movement, Black Twitter), breaking news, corporate existentialist brand building, tweet-addled U.S. presidents, and hardcore porn.

Meta’s Twitter clone Threads just launched, giving us options—maybe too many. Meta’s smart move to bring Instagram users to Threads is drawing crowds. Threads is easy for regular users, but most importantly for brands, government officials, influencers, and celebrities—30 million signed up in 24 hours.

Threads isn’t Mastodon, with its complicated sign-up process and thoughtful open source community. It won’t be Bluesky, the chaotic hub of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s last words, “Elon is the singular solution I trust.” It’s not 2023’s Twitter, with Musk-imposed rate limits, Nazi-friendly policies, and unpaid bills.

Threads, exactly? Less than 24 hours in, it’s a chaotic and celebratory refuge for people relieved to have a working Twitter. Meta relies on Brands, unlike Bluesky.

After the fun stuff (Balloon Boy Twitter, Four Seasons Total Landscaping Twitter, 30-50 feral hogs Twitter), Twitter was a place where brands could park and reliably communicate with customers. Sometimes that meant a dead Sonic the Hedgehog wishing Grimace a happy birthday from a pool of purple goo. It was mostly customer service, real-time updates, and company blog posts.

Threads will be boring. Meta is not about fun. Instagram isn’t fun either, but it’s good for branding and selling. Meta seems to like us just shuffle around in there.

Like Instagram, Threads may not foster culture. Instagram’s viciously fickle algorithm and extreme culture of curation discourage experimentation, funneling exhausted creators toward a few proven visual styles—captions with 450+ words of text and vacation medley Reels with this week’s viral sound. It’s tight.

Threads’ pedigree almost guarantees a complete separation between brand, celebrity, organization, and government content and Twitter’s unhinged terminally online posts. The former will be comfortable on Threads, but the latter won’t.

Threads has no ads yet. But remember that Facebook allowed Instagram to flourish for years virtually ad-free—a version of the app that’s almost impossible to remember now that Instagram users must endure a massive amount of advertising to use the app. Mark Zuckerberg talked about slowly turning Instagram’s ad spigot in early earnings calls. Instagram users were boiled alive ten years later. Instagram relies on ads, not content. Unknowingly, users have adapted to breathing underwater in ads.

Threads may be more chaotic than Instagram (most things are), but the platform’s culture won’t matter. Meta has spent years pixel-for-pixel copying its competitors, but now it’s a useful strategy. Everyone uses Instagram and will probably use Threads, whether they like it or not.

Elon Musk created a huge opening for any platform that could offer corporations and celebrities a safe landing place by fumbling Twitter (imagine if he had just bought it and left it alone!). Bugs and Musk’s button mashing make Musk’s Twitter unsafe for brands and often unusable. Twitter may not even exist in a year. Should brands, politicians, and celebrities call it quits?

Meta’s ascendant Twitter alternative doesn’t need to be innovative to attract ad dollars and brands. Brands need a Twitter-like experience with users to direct their delirious social media managers. Champion arrived.

 

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