Threads Is Social Media’s Newest Nepo Baby, but Does It Have Staying Power?

Is the social media landscape too crowded?

The winners of today’s attention economy don’t seem to think so.

That’s why Meta, the parent company of social behemoth Facebook, last week (July 5) launched Threads — a Twitter competitor that was built by Meta’s Instagram product team.

“We don’t have social media, we have social medias,” Amias Gerety, partner at QED Investors, told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster.

Our networks for each overlap, but are ultimately distinct, Gerety explained.

The new platform took advantage of parent company Meta’s native scale and was launched in more than 100 countries in both iOS and Android versions. The ecosystem jumpstart approach worked, with Threads passing the 100-million user mark just five days after launching.

That’s a user-acquisition rocketship much faster than the previous “fastest growing app” record held by buzzy artificial intelligence (AI) startup OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which took two months to get to 100 million users.

Still, starting on third base, Threads represents a bit of a nepo-baby. If a platform has 2 or 3 billion users globally, getting half a percent of them to adopt on a trial basis isn’t that hard of a lift.

Read more: Zuckerberg Aims to Make Threads a 1-Billion Member App

How Users Adapt to the Ever-Evolving Social Media Landscape

While Threads can be compared as a substitute for Twitter created by Instagram, it still contains the potential to provide unique and distinct way of engaging with others in the digital realm.

“If you look at the history of social media, one of the things that people miss is that these network effects are partially finite, and they have a decay function,” said Gerety.

He added that Threads might offer users a “decluttering effect, which might be cleansing for people,” as they look to reframe their own algorithmic history.

“Now I can start fresh with the knowledge I have about the persona I want to project to the algorithm,” Gerety explained.

But that doesn’t mean that Threads will be a return to the olden days of users relying on people they know IRL (in real life) for most of their posting. After all, content creators and influencers have far surpassed the entertainment value of even end-users’ closest friends and family.

“Right now, every person who’s in the content game is saying, wait a minute, I rank as the 15 millionth most important content creator on Twitter. If I jump to Threads now, I could be the 500th most important,” said Gerety.

It’s almost like the crypto mentality, he explained, where people think that if they get in early, they can have explosive growth — “there will be a huge rush.”

But will it last?

See also: Meta’s Threads App Launch Postponed in EU Amid Data Privacy Concerns

Lasting Phenomenon or Passing Trend?

The annals of online history are littered with the one-hit wonders of social media: just think back to the everywhere popularity of Clubhouse during the pandemic. Even the progenitor of today’s social media ecosystem, MySpace, wasn’t able to keep the lights on forever as the marketplace became increasingly crowded.

“Threads will either crash or take off, I don’t know which, but it will happen quickly,” Gerety said.

He explained that, at least for now, Threads exists solely as a “head-to-head” competitor to Twitter and content creators will move over to the platform “at least experimentally” and post the same content across both platforms.

“The creators will decide which interface is better, where do they get better monetization rates, where do they get better engagement, where do they get higher quality engagement, and that will either start to create a network effect over it threads, or it will decay very fast,” Gerety said.

Despite Twitter owner Elon Musk’s goal to make Twitter a super app, it is actually Meta that has the right assets in place “to become at true super app,” Gerety highlighted, noting that the company’s WhatsApp platform can already do payments in dozens of countries and that its assets “can be knit together” in a way that Twitter might find hard to replicate.

Beyond just the interoperability across Meta’s product suite, “it is amazing how central WhatsApp is to the commercial progress and to the next wave of commercial innovation within Latin America,” he said.

The discussion surrounding threads is far from over. With its potential to reshape the social media landscape, Threads has already captured the attention of influencers and users alike.

Whether it will become a lasting phenomenon — and where — or simply a passing trend remains to be seen.