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What’s The Difference Between Threads (Meta) and Twitter?

"Twitter Killer" is the headline of the British newspaper The Guardian and the news agency Reuters who report on the rapidly increasing number of users of the app recently released by Meta. And there's something to it - the concept of the Threads app developed by the Instagram team is strongly reminiscent of the micro-blogging platform bought up by Elon Musk. In our comparison of Threads and Twitter, we explain Threads' quirks and examine whether Musk needs to be worried.

threads de meta sur un téléphone
threads de meta sur un téléphone

Key Takeaways

  • Threads, the app developed by Instagram, has surpassed 100 million users in record time since its launch. It presents itself as a friendlier option for online public discourse.
  • The app has similarities to Twitter, but also different features; currently there are no ads, while the character limit is higher.
  • Other alternatives to Twitter include Mastodon, Discord, Post, Cohost and Bluesky.

On the sixth of July 2023, Adam Mosseri published a video announcing the launch of Threads. The text update app, developed by the Instagram team, allows users to participate in public conversations. They would also be “very focused on the creative communities [that] already use Instagram.” As of said day, Threads is available on iOS and Android in over 100 countries and, as reported by Reuters news agency, has surpassed the 100 million user mark in record time. The new platform presents itself as a “friendlier” option for online public discourse, Reuters adds.

Due to its impressive user numbers and its focus on text, the app is seen as the biggest threat to Twitter, as the short messaging service has been struggling with a decline in user numbers for some time. Although there have been previous attempts to challenge Twitter,  none have yet celebrated Threads’ short-term success.


How does Meta's Threads app work?

The Threads app is a microblogging platform that allows users to share short text updates in the form of “threads.” Basically, the new Meta app works just like the platform known by the little blue bird. In addition to text, users can also share news, photos, links, and videos with Threads.


Have you downloaded the app yet? As mentioned, it is available for iOS and Android in the App Store and Google Play Store. Signing up is easy via your Instagram account, which is obvious since Threads was developed by the Instagram team. Before you get to the Threads feed, feel free to add your  bio, a profile picture, and a link to the Instagram profile, or just let Instagram take care of all the info.

In the privacy settings, you can choose whether your account is private or public – this is independent of the Instagram account privacy settings. By default, the app suggests a few accounts for you to follow based on your Instagram follower list, while the feed is initially filled with random user-generated content. Another bonus: Threads can be shared directly in IG Story, so you’ll get good traction from app to app.

Kolsquare-Insight: You need to know before downloading, but especially before signing up, that Threads currently only allows you to delete an account if you also delete your existing Instagram account. So once you join Threads, it’s all-in-or-nothing.

Rather than launching a network that has to start from scratch, like BeReal, Threads is leveraging Instagram’s existing user base. While many were clearly curious about the app, the purpose of Threads is not entirely clear to users at the moment. The three dominant groups on the platform include Instagram users who have unexpectedly gained a large audience on a text-oriented app, social media managers and marketers looking for relevance, and people fleeing the toxic environment of Twitter.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he hopes Threads will overtake Twitter’s 250 million monthly users. “It will take some time, but I think there should be a public discussion app with more than a billion users,” Zuckerberg said as quoted by The Guardian. “Twitter had the opportunity to do this, but didn’t make it. Hopefully, we will.” Shares of Meta closed up 1.2% on Monday, July 11, 2023, and are up significantly this year, more than 140%.

The ultimate comparison: Threads vs. Twitter

The Guardian says Threads would be like “Twitter with fewer rough edges, more corporate sheen, and enough potential to suck the remaining life – and ad revenue – out of Musk’s struggling network.” So what’s the truth to the exclamation that Threads would be the Twitter killer?

Generally, Threads is described as a hybrid of Twitter and Instagram, with an emphasis on engagement, and a similarity to TikTok. Funny posts are presented rather than serious political discussions, making it less confrontational and aggressive. Radicalized and offensive messages that exist on Twitter are not as visible on Threads. Zuckerberg explained that the friendliness of the platform and the avoidance of these topics is a design feature and is a differentiation strategy. This, in turn, presents a challenge for Twitter, as the rapid messaging service may face further specification of its user base debating culture war issues.

The lack of immediacy and real-time updates on Threads limits its use for breaking news compared to Twitter. The feed in the Meta app is curated only by an algorithm and, similar to Instagram, shows only the most recent posts. Also, there is currently no text search function on  Threads. Other features can be compared directly:

  1. Character count: Both platforms limit the number of characters: Twitter limits itself to 280 characters, Threads to 500.
  2. Video limit: Video is on the rise, experts know that. That’s why Threads allows videos of up to five minutes while the maximum duration on Twitter is two minutes and 20 seconds.
  3. Followers: Unlike Twitter, Threads doesn’t have a follower list on its profile. To find out who you follow, you have to tap on the “Followers” tab and then go to the “Follow” section.
  4. Advertising: There is currently no advertising on Threads. The content is only supposed to be monetized once it reaches one billion users. Twitter, on the other hand, has nearly 240 million monetizable daily active users since the company’s last release before Musk’s acquisition last July (data from web analytics companies, however, indicates that usage has dropped since then).
  5. Safety and privacy: Threads snaps up the concept of “muted words” on Twitter, words that should be hidden, and allows users to protect themselves from offensive language. The mute feature on Twitter only applies to an individual tweet.
  6. The blue check mark: An account has been verified once a blue checkmark appears next to the profile name – this applies to Instagram as well as Twitter. Musk offered the verification checkmark at a subscription price after purchasing the platform, which generally reduces credibility. Threads users can take the blue checkmark from their Instagram account to their Threads profile.
  7. Drafts: On Twitter, individual tweets can be saved as drafts; Threads does not yet offer this feature.
  8. Direct Messages: While users can write private messages to each other on all networks, this is not yet possible on Threads. Communication here is only via comments.  Also read: Influencer marketing: Direct messaging as the first contact.
  9. Engagement: As the following graph shows, engagement is currently much higher on  Threads, both in terms of likes for posts and comments.

Watch out for false friends: what is a thread on Twitter vs. " Threads" on Instagram

Although the two terms “thread” and ” Threads” sound similar (and the new meta-app certainly bears the name in reference to the original meaning of the word), they have different meanings and functions in their respective contexts. On Twitter, a “thread” refers to a series of related tweets that form a longer message or discussion. Individual tweets are linked together by replying to the previous tweet.

Even more alternatives to Twitter

Previous alternatives, such as Mastodon, Bluesky, Truth Social and T2, have remained relatively small compared to Threads. Mastodon has about 7.7 million total users, with less than 2 million active. Bluesky, which is backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has 265,000 users and  a waiting list of about 2 million more users. Politically conservative platforms GETTR and Truth Social have estimated monthly user numbers of 144,000 and 607,000, respectively (data from Reuters).

Mastodon is a non-profit, decentralized social media platform that is being touted as a fully decentralized alternative to Twitter. The app has open-source technology that allows users to edit or install the software on their own servers. It works through servers known as “instances” that form interconnected networks, which in turn are known as “Fediverse.” While Mastodon shares some features with Twitter, its community servers are more like Reddit, providing a decentralized way to connect with new communities.

Originally conceived as an instant messaging app for gamers, Discord has evolved into a multipurpose platform for connecting with communities based on shared interests. With 140 million users, Discord offers public and private areas called “servers” where people can talk about various topics. Although Discord differs in structure from Twitter, it has experienced significant growth and serves as an alternative for those looking for niche interest groups and a change from Twitter’s scrolling feed. There is also a debate about whether there is a future for influencers on Discord.

Post is a user-friendly content-sharing platform that positions itself as an alternative for news seekers. With 950,000 users, Post functions similarly to Twitter but focuses on sharing and republishing content, as well as browsing new news articles. Unlike Twitter, the app’s content is provided by publishing partners, and the app has a unique “micropayment” feature that allows users to access content from multiple sources.

Another emerging Twitter alternative is Cohost, which offers a chronological timeline, a mindful approach to content moderation, and a generous free tier. With 38,000 users, Cohost offers a stripped-down interface with no ads and includes features like CSS code integrations and posts with no character limits. Although Cohost is still in beta, the platform is gaining traction as an alternative to Twitter, especially for those seeking a simple feed with organized updates.

Bluesky, founded by Jack Dorsey, offers the most Twitter-like user experience among the alternatives. With 180,000 users and a familiar user interface, Bluesky resembles Twitter in terms of posts, feeds, and mute buttons. However, it differs in having a decentralized structure that allows users to form their own communities. Bluesky is also still in the beta phase and has a considerable waiting list of 1.9 million users.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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