Meta Platforms’ Threads could quickly become a major threat to Elon Musk-owned Twitter, thanks to its easy access to billions of Instagram users, a similar interface to that of its rival and the advertising heft of the social media giant, analysts and industry experts said.
Dubbed as the “Twitter killer”, Threads logged 10 million sign-ups within the first seven hours after its launch, with celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Gordon Ramsay joining the app.
Shares of Meta Platforms were up nearly 1% on Thursday, after they closed 3% higher in the previous session ahead of the roll out of Threads.
“Whether planned or not, Meta’s release of Threads came at the perfect time to give it a fighting chance to unseat Twitter,” said Niklas Myhr, professor of marketing at Chapman University, referring to the turmoil at Twitter after it limited the number of tweets users can see.
“Threads will be off to a running start as it is built upon the Instagram platform with its massive user base and if users adopt Threads, advertisers will be following closely behind.”
While Threads is a standalone app, users can log in using their Instagram credentials, which makes it an easy addition for Instagram’s more than two billion monthly active users.
Twitter, by comparison, had 229 million monthly active users in May 2022, according to a statement made before Musk’s buyout of the social media platform.
Mastodon, another Twitter-like app, has 1.7 million monthly active users, according to the company’s website, while Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky has about 265 000 users.
Some analysts said Threads was reminiscent of Meta’s success in integrating crucial features of platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok in the case of Instagram’s Stories and Reels, respectively.
At least four brokerages raised their price target on Meta, whose shares have already more than doubled in value this year.
“No doubt there will be bumps in the road, but Threads could provide support to Meta’s share price if it turns out to be a success, as its huge number of initial sign-ups suggests,” said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.
Available in more than 100 countries, Threads was the top free app in Apple’s App Store in the UK and the US, far above Twitter.
The app, however, won’t be available in the European Union as of now as Meta works out how data sharing between the new platform and its Instagram app will be regulated.
Threads was also among the trending topics on Twitter where many users shared links to their profiles on the rival app and memes, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who on Wednesday posted on Twitter for the first time since 2012.
The launch was clearly a first stab at a service as it lacked the bells and whistles of Twitter.
Threads does not have hashtags and keyword search functions, which means users cannot follow real-time events like on Twitter. It does not yet have a direct messaging function and also lacks a desktop version that certain users, such as business organisations, rely on.
Some users including popular tech reviewer Marques Brownlee also posted about the need for a feed that only consists of the people one follows. Users currently have little control over the main feed.
Overall though, analysts cheered what they said was a strong competitor to Twitter, which has been rocked by abrupt decisions by Musk since he acquired it for US$44-billion last year.
“There should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will,” Zuckerberg said on Threads. — Aditya Soni, with Yuvraj Malik and Bansari Mayur Kamdar, (c) 2023 Reuters