Why Threads will (probably) fail.

Why Threads will (probably) fail.

Let me start by saying this is not a mean-spirited post, I have no ill feeling towards Meta nor the wonderful software developers than doubtless poured their hearts into the product. I have no skin the game, I am simply a user. This is an exercise in prognostication (the action of prophesying future events).

'Don't listen to what they say; watch what they do.'

“The goal isn’t to replace Twitter ... The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said.

If you're going to build an app that is functionally identical to Twitter, lets not pretend the end goal isn't to replace Twitter. Also, if you start by limiting the downside, you are sending mixed messages. Instagram already has comments, what sort of community are you trying to create if it isn't like Twitter? Also, if you are genuinely not trying to replace Twitter, you are going to disappoint a lot of people who are looking for exactly that and once they realise you are genuinely not going to replace Twitter, what reason have they to stay? It's the worst of both worlds.

(Quote is by Steven Levitt btw)

What's new?

So far, some might say, Threads is a fairly close copy of Twitter in terms of core functionality. (BBC's James Clayton described it as "in terms of optics though.... identical") I haven't seen any new ideas, concepts, interaction modes or business models. The one thing people are saying is "wow, it's so nice over hear in Threads, no nastiness like Twitter, this place is the best.". Has history taught us nothing?

The trolls will turn up, the conversations will become divisive, the exact same fundamental problems that happen as a result of being able to be anonymous online, combined with "free speech" equal not great online text based forums. It's the hope that kills you.

We have so many users.

Nope. You have 2.35bn MAU's of Instagram and a one click (ish) process for creating a Threads account, that is heavily and constantly promoted. 100m users you say? This is not the metric of success. The only metric of success is do people stop using Twitter entirely and start using Threads. I, personally, doubt it.

There can be only one.

One thing I have be pondering is.. what on Earth are people going to say on Threads if they also continue posting on Twitter, are they simply going to replicate all of the content? That cannot work. Do they expect people to follow them on both platforms, check both platforms rely on both platforms. Nope. People are going to pick one and stick with it. Celebs need to be everywhere, Pete32341 from Doncaster, does not.

You need an Instagram account

To use Threads you need an Instagram account, this is quite the barrier, mostly because in order to get an Instagram account you are professing to be interested in what is effectively a photo-reel of everyone's highly curated best bits. Some people are simply not interested in this view of the world, they have opted out of the 'gram' life, therefore if you are tying the two together you are making two limiting mistakes:

1- Only people that are interested in Instagram can use this app.

2- By definition this gives the view of "town square" less credence as your door policy says "no one who is not willing to post pictures only", for an app that is for text only. Odd.

No Politics or Hard News

Politics and hard news are important, I don’t want to imply otherwise,” Mosseri said. “But my take is, from a platform’s perspective, any incremental engagement or revenue they might drive is not at all worth the scrutiny, negativity, or integrity risks that come along with them.

Life is politics and news. Perhaps this is inline with Instagram's view of the world, I'm not sure it's a great base for a text-based conversation app.

In conclusion

Of course, failure is realative. I am sure in a years time when they have 1bn registered users, despite how many people actually use the app, it will be viewed as a success. Will it ever be the Twitter replacement, in my view, no.