July 5 saw the release of Threads. Owned by Meta, the text-based application was created as an alternative to Elon Musk-owned Twitter (now called X). The application instantly became a hit, achieving 30 million users in less than 24 hours and 100 million in 5 days. However, the app immediately saw a downturn and hasn’t reached those levels since. While it could be said that this was due to a dearth of features, I believe it was also due to there simply being too many social media applications.
Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Whatsapp can easily be called “The Big 4” of social media applications. Each of these carries something original or adds another dimension to the social media experience. Whatsapp was a pioneer of the concept of using phone numbers to connect with others over the internet, a feature yet to be emulated by others. Snapchat was the first to bring the “Stories” feature, something that Instagram and others copied. It also brought about the unique idea of ‘Snaps’ and ‘Streaks’, playing on human emotions and connections to leverage users. Instagram wasn’t very creative or original but it served as a one-stop shop by containing everything. You could share your moments with the rest of the world with Instagram stories, talk privately to your loved ones via Direct Messages and be entertained by Reels. The only thing it lacked was a text posts-based system, a domain dominated by Twitter. Hence, Threads was conceived.
On paper, Threads seemed like a logical step for Meta to take. Having everything else under its vast umbrella via Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook, Threads would ensure that social media became Meta’s domain. But perhaps what the team did not realize is that social media has become saturated to a large extent. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Reddit, Snapchat and Discord already offered everything a user needed. Threads had to offer something different for it to succeed. But Threads was just a replica of Twitter. No user would like to create a new account and adjust to a new interface in order to get the same experience as before. Matter of fact, Threads was a watered down version of Twitter and lacked some crucial features, such as Direct Messages and Trending Topics. No one would do so much effort to get lesser features.
Another point to be noted is that human sentiments are a thing. Years-old users of any application get attached to it and the application becomes a part and parcel of their life. Threads didn’t carry any such sentimental value and hence didn’t matter for many. It can also be said that one can only dedicate so much time to social media. Whatsapp is always buzzing with business messages and family conversations, Instagram and Snapchat are replete with entertainment and Twitter is busy in trends and ratios. So how can a user allot time for a new application without reducing the share of some other, more beneficial application? This lack of human connection would always prove fatal.
The key takeaway here is the fact that there is a social media glut. For any new social media application to succeed like its predecessors, it shall have to focus on 3 key aspects: Emotions, Ingenuity and Connectivity. The application shall have to appeal to the emotions of users and create an emotional connection with them, it will have to offer something new and overall increase the connectivity of users. If any new social media application fails to address these, I fear it will be threaded out of existence.
About the Author: Muhammad Abdul Wasay is an esports-fan who failed to make it to the competitive scenario. He now plys his trade in the worlds of civil engineering and content writing, hoping to either host Pakistan’s esports success or document it.