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It looks like everybody wants an in on the action, following the hype accompanying the launch of Threads — Meta’s new text-oriented app that is seen as a challenge to Elon Musk’s Twitter.
Chinese TikTok didn’t want to be outdone or left behind and decided that after building its position on video, it’s time to treat text with more respect as well.
Paradoxically, however, while the move is being framed by some as another challenge to Twitter, the person who should be really worried about the new development is not Elon Musk but Mark Zuckerberg.
Why reinvent the wheel?
You see, while Meta’s boss launched a half-baked Twitter rip-off built on Instagram, TikTok simply implemented text within its standard, vertical video format that its users are most used to.
While Threads is struggling with spam, lack of hashtags, lack of actual “threads” in the sense of being able to follow conversations with or about people you follow and being instead fed with lots of unrelated noise courtesy of the app’s algorithm, TikTok didn’t try to reinvent anything, but just added another content format within the user experience that millions of people are already accustomed to — but one which is also much different than any other social network.
It allows for posts of up to 1000 characters (so, pretty long) and includes stickers, tags, hashtags and even sounds.
Instagram, technically, would be the nearest competitor, but posting longer text messages via the social media platform has always been rather clunky. You could use either the description (which isn’t facing the users, though) or place text inside the post or story, which often leads to text losing legibility (and people losing interest).
So, for now, it’s not Twitter that has to be worried but Meta, because TikTok’s audience overlaps far more closely with Instagram (and, by extension, Threads) than it does with Twitter.
Text isn’t likely to be the main medium on TikTok but rather a useful addition for creators who are already into video.
If your activity is text-first, you’re going to stick to Twitter. If it is video-first but you were missing the ability to write on TikTok or Instagram, now you have a more compelling solution on the former than the latter.
Meanwhile, Threads is going to feel pressure on both ends.
Upstaging Twitter didn’t really work given how underdeveloped the app is. Engagement figures have collapsed within days of the launch.
On the other hand, if you were one of the users hoping for a useful text-based expansion of the Instagram experience, then Threads has already failed at it twice — first in 2021, when it was still a part of Instagram and today, when it’s a standalone app.
It’s not there yet — and might not be for many months, if ever.
Meanwhile, TikTok has just added text inside the very same interface millions know and love. So, why bother with Meta again?
It’s going to be very interesting to see what the reaction of the Instagram team (responsible for Threads as well) is going to be. Are they going to focus on bridging the gap to Twitter or will they try to respond to the unexpected stab by TikTok?
The social media landscape is getting unexpectedly more interesting every day.
Featured Image: dimarik / depositphotos