Hanging On By A Few Threads?

So a show of hands, please–how many of you found this musing from Twitter?

From what I can tell from available analytics, as well as the comments I have received in the more than two years since these musings began, I dare say I’d be looking at something in the single digits–or worse.

So I’m dubious if there’s going to be any more traffic, cosmetic if not immediately monetizable, from the newest platform these musings are going to be posted to.  Because, like apparently, just like lots of you, I too have downloaded Threads.  And, honestly, I’m really not sure why I did.

The stats, as reported by TECH DESK, are encouraging, at least in relative terms as of yesterday morning:

In just days after the Threads app launched, it has over 78 million users. While a lot of that can be attributed to the network effects from being an Instagram spin-off, that is still quite impressive. That is less than 20 per cent the number of users that Twitter has but now, it seems unlikely that Threads will feel like its competitor even if it got as many users.

Now I’m not sure that’s a reflection of actual users just yet. because as any good digital media buyer knows downloads or subscribers are not users or viewers.  Once DAUs and MAUs are available from some objective source more valid comparisons of actual eyeballs will be possible.

Even more up in the air is exactly what will constitute what those eyeballs will be seeing.  Threads’ de facto chief, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, offered some thoughts in the same piece:

Mosseri explained that Threads’ goal is not to replace Twitter and that instead, its goal is to create a “create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter.” Mosseri said the platform is aimed at communities that are interested in a “less angry place” for conversations, but not all of Twitter.  

Going further, Mosseri did not discount the importance of political discourse and hard news but according to him, any increased engagement or revenue they might drive is not worth the scrutiny, negativity or integrity risks that come along with them. He also hinted that the platform could focus on a host of other topics including sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment and more.

Sure sounds like on most days, this kind of work might be well received.

But at least per CNN’s Clare Duffy, I’m still not quite sure exactly what the appetite or opportunity exactly is.  Many of the reactions from those in my social media feeds who have followed me since I shared my IG info with it are similar to those she reported on:

Some early Threads users even commented on the strange nature of the situation — that they would be eager to join a social network run by one billionaire whose company has faced intense public criticism simply because they were so eager to get away from another.

“It boggles the mind,” one user posted to Threads. “I boycotted Facebook years ago and when I heard about this I joined immediately.”

“Never used [Facebook] nor [Instagram],” another user said, adding that they had to join Instagram for the first time to gain access to Threads. “Last thing I would have EVER expected was to use any platform of Zuckerberg’s.”

So other than making a half-hearted endorsement of what is perceived at best as the lesser of two evils, it remains to be seen exactly how big a town square Threads will be, or even how loudly those that migrate to it will be.  Train wrecks and rallies attract more attention than peaceful demonstrations, at least those not allegedly carried out by actors in cosplay joining “tourists”.

My business partner is all but dismissive as to the potential Threads will have in the near term.  One intrepid Facebook follower noted this morning that the Musk-ovites that support Twitter have compared Threads’ logo to “a weird version of 666”.  He offered up his own theory that it actually copied the artwork for Homer Simpson’s ear.  I don’t quite see that myself, and I can’t download the graphic he used to illustrate it, so I’ll leave that one up to you.

But it does appear that there’s a lot of motivation for a lot of people to be somewhere of scale other than Twitter, and already Threads has made more immediate headway than either BlueSky or Mastadon.  And the best that Musk and his auspiced new CEO Linda Yaccarino have been able to do so far in response is limit the number of tweets one can see in a given day without that blue check mark, and struggle to find a way to explain that that all but the most notorious supporters can grasp.  As well as double down on the rhetoric and pettiness that has defined the relationship between Elon and Zuck, as Duffy’s piece elaborated:

In 2018, in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Musk said he had deleted the Facebook pages for his companies Tesla and SpaceX because the platform “gives me the willies.” And later that year, he also deleted his Instagram account.

More recently, Musk has claimed that Instagram “makes people depressed” and appeared to imply that Meta was complicit in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday  that he hopes to eventually have more than one billion users on Threads, far more than the 238 million active users on Twitter prior to Musk’s takeover. Musk appears to be trying to push back against Zuckerberg’s turn of fortune. On Wednesday, a lawyer for Musk sent a letter to Meta threatening to sue the company over the rival app, accusing it of trade secret theft through the hiring of former Twitter employees. (Meta denied the charge).

And what apparently was an aggressive move on Twitter’s part to begin to build out an area like Twitter Spaces, using the likes of Tucker Carlson as a Trojan horse, has hit several snags.  Carlson’s former employer FOX has thrown several legal monkey wrenches into these efforts, and so far he has posted sporadically.

So much as I like and respect Yaccarino, a true adult in this room, I’m beginning to fear that even she won’t be able to save her new boss face, let alone stave off the perception that every sane person on Earth will soon be flipping the bird to Twitter and embracing the sixes, the slinky, the curly fry, the dry cell battery coil, the ampersand, the pubic hair or whatever the heck Threads’ logo is.

So right now my biggest concern is how someone like her is going to emerge from all of this, other than far richer than she would have been had she stuck around NBCUniversal.  More power to her or anymore who can take advantage of emotionally maladjusted billionaires.  Lord knows I’ve done the same when I could, and I would again.

Then again, I know some fine people (no, these are indeed REALLY fine people, not Charlottesville suicide drivers) who Zuckerberg has also made a lot richer than me.

So, for the moment, I’ll post this to both platforms, because honestly, I need all the views and shares I can get.  I’ll let the founders duke it out in a cage if and when they can pull it off, and I sure hope for Linda’s sake Spaces gets exclusive rights to it, because it might just give her something of scale to sell.    And something that Meta is highly unlikely to pursue.  Anyone remember Facebook Watch’s litany of “hits”?  SACRED LIES?  TURNT?  CONFETTI?

Yep, same head count I’ve noticed for those of you Musk-loving tweeters.

Happy threading.

Until next time…


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