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Twitter challenger Threads struggles for traction

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Analysts say that a Threads app launched by Instagram in a challenge to Twitter needs to differentiate itself

Analysts say that a Threads app launched by Instagram in a challenge to Twitter needs to differentiate itself – Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP JUSTIN SULLIVAN

Glenn CHAPMAN

After a wildly successful first few days, Threads popularity has waned in the weeks since Meta launched its challenge to Twitter, which lives on despite its problems.

The average amount of time people spend on Threads daily has plummeted more than 75 percent since the platform made a rock star debut on July 6, according to data from Sensor Tower, a market analysis firm.

Threads was quickly billed as a potential death knell for Twitter, a platform that has tumbled into chaos under the leadership of mercurial tycoon Elon Musk.

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The launch saw sign-ups of more than 100 million users in less than five days, smashing the record of AI tool ChatGPT for fastest-growing consumer app and creating relief and excitement amongst early adopters fleeing Twitter.

“I actually closed down my Twitter account after starting Threads,” said Brooklyn resident Lauren Brose, head of marketing at a tech start-up.

“I used to love Twitter. After Elon Musk took over Twitter, I found that the entire environment just changed completely.”

But weeks later, Threads has since seen a “material decline in new sign-ups,” Sensor Tower said.

Twitter. — © AFP/File Chris DELMAS

Twitter continues to dominate its space as a platform for online comment and news, and Musk “would have to completely destroy it” to drive away its audience for good, according to Silicon Valley investor and analyst Jeremiah Owyang.

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“Will Threads kill Twitter? Absolutely not. It’s just not equivalent,” he said.

Threads went live on Apple and Android app stores in 100 countries at its launch, though it is not available in Europe because parent company Meta is unsure how to navigate the European Union’s data privacy legislation.

Twitter is thought to have around 200 million regular users but it has suffered repeated technical failures since Tesla tycoon Musk bought the platform last year and sacked much of its staff.

Musk, also the boss of SpaceX, has alienated users by introducing charges for previously free services and allowing banned right-wing accounts back on the platform.

There is little doubt that Threads had a major leg up compared to other wannabe Twitter alternatives.

Several rivals have emerged but most are niche platforms without the capacity to grow at the necessary scale to dethrone Twitter.

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But Meta was able to easily prompt Instagram users to start Threads accounts, tapping into a base of at least a billion users at the image-focused social network.

– Not about news? –

Threads has a lot to prove, and features to add, to become a formidable Twitter alternative, according to Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg.

It needs to foster creators to engage users, and to find its own identity separate from Instagram and Twitter, Enberg said.

“Given that Twitter is in a state of disarray, the brilliant move that they did was using the existing social graph from Instagram for rapid and seamless adoption,” Owyang said of Threads.

The downside is that’s not the user base “that you want to have chats with or to do microblogging,” he added.

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Instagram users typically engage with the service for images or videos, not commentary or controversy, Owyang noted.

“It is a very different crowd on Instagram,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said of a comparison to Threads.

Twitter is known as a forum for news and politics, topics that Threads has no interest in spotlighting, according to a recent post by Threads and Instagram boss Adam Mosseri.

Meanwhile, Twitter is seen as an established home for posts by journalists, celebrities, athletes, politicians and others.

Another roadblock to Threads growth is that Meta is holding it back from the European Union, Milanesi said.

“You are missing a big chunk of the market,” she said of Threads being absent from the EU.

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– Twitter ‘diaspora’? –

While people frustrated with Musk-owned Twitter are seeking alternatives, no single competitor has established itself as the ideal option.

Twitter quitters have become a “diaspora” of sorts, spread across Mastodon, Bluesky, Threads and other platforms in search of a new social media home, Owyang reasoned.

“Many people have left Twitter, and that will continue,” Owyang said.

“But the issue is where are they going? There’s no one centralized place to go.”

The Threads app has been downloaded more than 184 million times globally since its launch, according to Data.ai Intelligence.

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“But, the app hasn’t proved to be materially different from Twitter in terms of features/functionality,” said Sensor Tower senior insights analyst Abe Yousef.

“What should dissuade people from remaining on Twitter, assuming they’re comfortable with Twitter’s content policies?” Yousef added.

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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