On the back of numerous controversies and complaints from users since US billionaire Elon Musk bought social media platform Twitter for $44bn in October 2022, Meta Platforms – the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – has announced plans to launch a rival social network this week.
What do we know so far?
The new app, which is available to pre-order now on the Apple App store, is called Threads and is set to be released on Thursday 6 July 2023. Similar to Twitter, it will be a text-based platform on which users can publish posts that can be replied to, liked or shared. It will be directly linked to Instagram, allowing users to port their username and followers to the new app. The description on the Apple App Store states: “Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow. Whatever it is you are interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favourite creators and others who love the same things – or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”
It appears the app will be free to download and use and have none of the new restrictions that Twitter has announced.
What has happened to Twitter since Musk’s acquisition?
Musk laid off around 80% of Twitter staff late last year, which resulted in several outages, and he also reinstated a number of banned accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump. This led to many advertisers pausing spending due to concerns about a rise in harmful content and misinformation on the platform.
Just last week, Musk announced a new set of restrictions on Twitter, limiting the number of tweets users can view per day and introducing the need to be verified to use scheduling and analytics tool TweetDeck.
How big is this set to be?
While alternative social media platforms – such as Mastodon and Blue Sky – have seen a rise in user numbers since Musk’s acquisition, neither has been able to seriously challenge Twitter. But Instagram already has hundreds of millions of registered users and has a history of introducing new features based on the success of other social media firms. Meta, headed up by CEO Mark Zuckerburg, is known for successfully cloning rivals’ functionality in an attempt to defend its market share. Its “stories” feature on Instagram was introduced to rival the popularity of Snapchat, and the addition of “reels” sought to combat the rise of TikTok.
As a business, should I join?
It can be hard to keep up with managing existing social media platforms, especially as a small business with limited knowledge and resources, but in an increasingly digital world, it is vital not to miss a key way to communicate with your customers. There will be a buzz – and a great deal of investment – around this launch, and if anyone is going to create a successful rival to Twitter, it will be Meta.
Generally speaking, Twitter isn’t the most effective platform for jewellery retailers and suppliers to engage with their customers, with Instagram, Pinterest and even Facebook more suited to an industry that connects with other users on the basis of sharing great imagery. However, if Threads sticks to the community and creativity message, where Twitter has gone down the “anger equals engagement” path, then this could become a genuinely useful platform for small, independent businesses to connect with customers and other local businesses.
Basically, if it does flop then you haven’t lost anything by joining, but you don’t want to be last to the party. As with all social media platforms, it is important to make sure you can post relevant content regularly, but potentially Threads’ integration with Instagram may facilitate this.
Are you going to try it out? The marketing team at the Company of Master Jewellers has pre-ordered the download and will definitely be online on Thursday to find out more!