Threads Embraces Branded Content, Shuns News

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Who needs a cage match when the marketplace battle between Elon and Zuck can be so thrilling?

After a blazingly fast start, Threads is bringing over its branded content tools from sibling platform Instagram as Meta looks to monetize that popularity, Axios reported on Tuesday. This is part of a broader push to make Threads a more upbeat, influencer-heavy platform than Twitter, and to avoid making it too newsy (read: depressing and/or enraging) while giving its marketing business a boost. But if Threads’ raison-d’être is to be Twitter, but without the fights and endless “discourse,” what’s the point?

Which One is the Evil Twin?

Threads hit 100 million downloads just five days after it launched. Since Elon Musk took Twitter private the company doesn’t have to announce user numbers, but The Wall Street Journal reported the company told advertisers it has 535 million monthly monetizable users. So Threads attained a little under 20% of Twitter’s userbase in less than a week.

Threads has positioned itself as the opposite image of Musk’s Twitter 2.0, but there’s no guarantee that its early adopters will stick around. Meta has to decide what exactly Threads is going to offer in the long run, other than a break from Musk’s increasingly irascible tweets. Barreling towards branded content and leaning on Instagram’s built-in army of influencers to get the profit wheels turning gives us a clue:

  • Matt Navarra, author of the social media-focused Geekout Newsletter, told The Daily Upside that Threads doesn’t exactly feel like a Twitter clone content-wise. “The vibe and the tone and style of the content is probably more aligned to being like a hybrid of Tiktok and Instagram at the moment,” he said.
  • Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said Threads won’t court politics and news content, saying the “scrutiny, negativity (let’s be honest), or integrity risks that come along with them” are not worth the hassle. A few troll farms east of Moscow probably beg to differ…

This isn’t just about reverse-mirroring Twitter. “Meta has spent a large period of time now trying to distance itself from news and news publishers and journalism in general, and politics,” Navarra pointed out. The company is currently in a bunfight with Canada over whether it should have to pay for news links on its platforms, and has banned news URLs entirely.

Community Spirit: Ultimately, how newsy Threads becomes might not be within Meta’s control. “If people start sharing news there and discuss news there, make it more of a Twitter, it will be more of a Twitter,” Navarra said. He added that the platform’s meteoric user growth comes with a problem. “The downside to adding 100 million users in a week is that no one really knew what the platform was, or is, or could be. No communities, or clusters of communities, or sense of community, really even developed,” he said.