Will Threads replace Twitter?

Will Threads replace Twitter Something is technically wrong Twitter is down graphic July 2019
The standard "Twitter is down" page from July 2019. Before this graphic, it was the famous "Fail Whale" image of many little orange birds lifting a whale.

(Last updated 24 June 2024)

Well, it’s about time to make the call regarding Twitter / X.

It pains me to see Twitter’s downward slide.

I’ll get right to it – I don’t see a complete Twitter replacement any time soon, because its strength was always its unmatched variety of participants, not its size.

The microblogging / text-oriented platform situation right now is fractured. Twitter used to be the one-stop shop for “what’s going on right now” worldwide, plus media connections and customer service for visitor, guest, and customer feedback.

That is less and less true.

Nope, not gonna call it X. That’s not an actual name of anything.

I started my personal Twitter account in September 2007. That’s 17 years of tweets. My account has been around longer than current owner Elon Musk’s account. The Tourism Currents account launched in July 2009.

The back-and-forth conversations, the breaking news, the trends, the Twitter chats, the worldwide connections with amazing people and organizations that I’d probably never have known otherwise – I adored it all.

As you might imagine, since I have a lot of experience on Twitter, I have a lot of opinions about what used to be my favorite social media platform.

None of that matters, though.

In digital marketing workshops and webinars, I always emphasize not falling too much in love with any platform, because none of them belong to you and you have no control over any of them.

You only have control over your website, blog, email subscriber list (have you started your email newsletter yet?) and maybe an opt-in SMS texting subscriber list.

I have to be realistic about the current social media landscape, and so does any marketing communications professional.

If you ask our standard basic marketing question, “Is your visitor, guest, or customer on [fill-in-the-blank digital platform] right now?” the answer is probably “No” for Twitter.

You simply must devote your marketing efforts to the platforms where your audiences spend their time, and to the digital media that gets results for your organization.

What are the current Twitter alternatives?

Here is what I’ve found out about the alternatives after experimenting with all of them myself:

**  Bluesky – launched on iOS in February 2023 as invite only. Finally opened to everyone a whole year later in February 2024. A pretty good approximation of old Twitter in terms of layout, UX, etc. but user base is still way too small to make an impact.

The people who like it REALLY like it, but I don’t see big prospects for growth. Hardly any DMOs there that I can find.

**  Mastodon – I started experimenting with Mastodon in late 2022, but it’s been around since 2014. It never seemed particularly complicated to me, but the whole language of the decentralized, nobody-controls-the-whole-thing Fediverse and picking an instance (host or server) for your account can be off-putting for many.

Without a “For you” type of algorithm, it’s easy to miss posts you care about. Mastodon has that purely chronological feed that everyone says they want, but which can actually be frustrating because it doesn’t regularly surface your favorite accounts.

There is a mobile version of Mastodon and you can build Lists to help curate, plus hashtags work and you can edit posts after publishing.

I will say that on some days, I get a lot more engagement on Mastodon than on other platforms, but it’s very hit-or-miss.

The nerdy environment is awesome if you’re nerdy!

**  Post(Update – Post is shutting down as of April 2024.) Launched in late 2022, Post is supposed to be a news site. It leaned heavily into attracting journalists and news organizations.

I’ve never had any luck getting any engagement on it, and I don’t see any DMOs there.

Let’s talk about the text-focused platform that I think is the strongest competitor to Twitter, and that is Threads, owned by Meta and part of Instagram.

Will Threads replace Twitter?

We’ll never have a complete replacement for Twitter, but I have a lot of the same connections and interactions on Threads.


Art from Whitney Museum NYC newsjacking Barbie on Threads
The Whitney Museum of American Art does some fun newsjacking on their Threads account, based on dialogue from Ken in the Barbie movie.

Similar to the early days of Twitter, various improvements and features are rolling out fairly rapidly, including launching Threads in the European Union.

That brought in engaging DMOs and partners like Visit Tallinn in Estonia, Visit Brighton in the UK, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Visit Bratislava, Slovakia, and the European Travel Commission.

On Threads you can now:

  •  Add one hashtag to each post; you can use more than one word in a hashtag, with spaces between words.
  •  Switch between an algorithm-driven feed (“For you”) and a more chronological one (“Following”)
  •  Make edits within five minutes of posting.
  •  See a few of the top trending topics on the app.
  •  Do just about everything you want from desktop Threads except easily switch accounts, which is easy to do in the Threads app.
  •  Add a poll to a post – up to four choices, runs for 24 hours.
  •  Save a draft post – capability is rolling out.
  • Updatesearch is not great but is improving, and you can toggle between Top and Recent results.
  •  Because Threads accounts are associated with existing Instagram accounts, Threads comes with community somewhat baked in, and there are over two billion monthly active Instagram users. You’re not starting from scratch growing followers if you have an active Instagram account.

Update – the Threads API is now available, so you can schedule from third-party apps like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer, etc., and can see performance data and metrics, too.  What you CAN’T do yet is schedule posts, but rumor has it that the Threads API to allow that is coming later in 2024.

A drawback – the way that posts “thread” together is clunky and sometimes hard to follow, which is ironic for something named Threads. I can’t wait for Lists, and an interface similar to TweetDeck. You can’t send DMs yet, either.

There are a growing number of DMOs and Main Street/downtown organizations there. Many appear to be reposting their Instagram content, but they’re making sure to tweak it to fit the platform, which is what you should do with ANY content shared in more than one place.

A few of the active DMO, partner, and economic development Threads accounts I like:

 

What to do with your Twitter account?

Twitter will keep limping along, struggling to grow users and attract advertisers, until Musk either sells it (probably as part of bankruptcy proceedings) or shuts it down.

If you don’t already have an account, I wouldn’t start one.

If you already have an account, make sure you have a strong password and two-factor authentication turned on, because I have no confidence in Twitter’s decimated Trust and Safety section.

Put up a post or two a week to keep the account active; there have been rumors of Musk reclaiming inactive accounts and you may not want someone grabbing your brand name and doing bad things with it.

What’s your assessment? Will Threads replace Twitter? Does it matter to your destination marketing? Let me know in the comments, and keep learning.

 

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