Brands have been seeking Twitter alternatives in the wake of Elon Musk taking control of the company last year. Twitter did not immediately return a request for comment for this story.
Instagram is predominantly used by brands for paid ad campaigns and sharing highly polished posts and short videos; it’s not known for the off-the-cuff banter that came to define life on Twitter, but that could change with Threads, Gerard said. Threads could be like the Instagram comments section, where brands already engage in back-and-forth discussions with followers.
“One way that brands know Instagram is working for them, is when the comments section is popping off,” Gerard said. “If you can take that and transition it over to Threads, which you basically can from the way they set up the app, it seems like it would have a lot of viability for brands and creators.”
The Instagram Threads and Twitter rivalry has significant ramifications for the internet. Zuckerberg and Musk have long publicly feuded, and in June the two teased the possibility they could meet in the ring for a mixed martial arts fight. Aside from clear personal animosity, though, Twitter and Meta are both powerful platforms that control the media consumption of hundreds of millions of people. In Meta’s case, 3 billion people use its apps daily. Before Musk bought Twitter, when it still had to report quarterly financial results, the site had about 240 million daily active users.
Musk has destabilized Twitter’s business, however, and advertisers dropped the service in droves. Days after Musk’s deal closed in October, major media holding companies advised brands to avoid buying ads on Twitter. There were concerns about content moderation and fears that Musk could foster a divisive atmosphere on the site unconducive to brand marketing. During the advertiser exodus, Meta’s ad team heard from brands looking for Twitter replacements, according to people familiar with the situation. Twitter had been generating more than $1 billion in revenue a quarter before Musk took over, money that could be up for grabs.
“[Mark Zuckerberg] thinks Elon is polarizing and there’s an opportunity with live conversations around sports and world events so he’s pouncing on the opportunity to take Twitter users,” said Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, the creator-focused marketing agency. “Zuck rarely fails so it will be formidable and if it integrates Meta’s superior ad products (once scaled) it will be an easy buy for advertisers.”
In May, Musk hired Linda Yaccarino to be the new CEO of the platform, putting in place an advertising veteran who could restore brand interest. Yaccarino started in June. Instagram’s timing with Threads, though, surely complicates her job, but Twitter still fills a unique position in the social media landscape. It’s a real-time, cultural juggernaut that has the ability to build momentum for a new product by giving it immediate attention.