After Meta’s Threads, TikTok Wants to Launch a ‘Twitter Killer’
Twitter has been seeing a sharp decline in the past 11 months with exponential decay. With the potential downfall of such an iconic and popular platform, several competitors are trying to make their own versions to fill in the gap of user demands. One famous example of this is Meta’s Threads, which has seen the fastest growth of any digital platform in history. Now, TikTok seems to be creating their own version as a way to compete.
Understanding why Twitter is losing its user base is integral to studying the strategies of other social media platforms. Once we take a look at how these platforms intend to compete with and potentially overcome their rivals, we can then analyze their track record and the effectiveness of their strategies. Using this information, we can make predictions based on past history and overall gain a deeper understanding of how these social media platforms communicate and compete with one another and what that means for users.
The Fall of the Blue Bird
Many assume that the downfall of Twitter started with Elon Musk, who bought the platform in October of 2022 for $44 billion. However, data suggests that the platform has always been struggling. The only year that Twitter showed profits was in 2018, when it reported its first-ever net income of $1.2 billion. While Twitter has always struggled to make it out of the red, it is clear that Musk’s mismanagement of the platform has certainly done the platform no favors.
Soon after his acquisition of the company, Musk was quick to disband the Trust and Safety Council, replacing it with the Content Moderation Council. This shift led to the reinstatement of several accounts that had been banned for hate speech and threats of violence, earning backlash from several human rights organizations.
Additionally, Musk was quick to do a mass firing of Twitter employees, leading to public outrage. Not only were several highly skilled programmers now suddenly out of a job, but the platform no longer had the staff bandwidth to make improvements, innovations, or manage technical problems.
There were several other controversies with Musk’s management of the platform. Firstly, several journalists had their accounts suspended without cause, with the most famous case being Twitter’s social network rival Mastodon. While Mastodon’s account was later reinstated, this example of bad faith caused many to leave the platform.
Later, Musk updated the verification system to a Twitter Blue subscription system as a means of bringing revenue into the platform. However, this backfired, causing the number of impersonation accounts to skyrocket. One of the most famous cases is an Eli Lilly impersonator who tweeted that the insulin provider would now give their product for free, resulting in a large drop in market share prices.
Rebranding Twitter as “X”
Most recently, Musk has decided to rebrand Twitter as “X,” sparking multiple controversies. First, people were upset that the logo appeared to be stolen from another brand–a claim that has since been disproven. Then, users pointed out that Twitter’s own account handle still had the old branding; it was revealed another user already had the tag “@X” and as such, Twitter couldn’t use it in their rebrand. Finally, a large flashing “X” sign was constructed on top of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. As of this week, the sign has been removed due to a lack of a building permit and several complaints from city residents.
With all these controversies in an 11-month span, it is no wonder that people are leaving the flock and finding other places to share their tweets. Twitter is expected to continue losing users, with estimations peaking at 30 million gone by 2026. Whenever a large service provider sees such a blow to their consumer base, it is only a matter of time before competitors try to copy their strategy and take what prospects are left.
The First Competitor: Meta Threads
The first to try and create a “Twitter Killer” is Meta, with their platform Threads. This text-based platform acts as a companion to Instagram. While it has its own app, users log into Threads using a pre-existing Instagram account.
The creation of this platform brought some controversy, as Musk was quick to accuse Meta of poaching previous Twitter employees to create the rival platform. However, Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, has stated that no one on the Threads engineering team was a previous employee at Twitter. Threads does seem to offer features that are not accessible on Twitter. Users can now write text posts up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes long with their post.
Because Threads is a companion to Instagram, users can share their Threads posts through their Instagram stories. Because Instagram is currently a strong and well-populated platform, Threads may have been created as a sister product to siphon users from Twitter and spur immediate growth.
The Downsides of Threads
This strategy appears to have worked, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg claiming the platform as a success. Within the first five days of its launch, Threads had gained over 100 million users – more than any other digital platform in human history. However, while the platform had a strong acquisition plan, it does not appear to have a stable retention plan. Third-party data suggests that Threads has lost more than half its daily active users.
The number of actual users has stayed consistent, but that is likely because of one highly controversial feature. Since Threads is powered by Instagram, deleting your Threads account requires users to also delete their Instagram account. Many fans of the original platform have decided to just ignore their Threads profiles instead of deleting it to keep their Instagrams.
With Threads appearing to experience a slow and stagnant death, there is still potential for a text-based platform to rise and overtake Twitter’s spot among the most popular social media platforms. Who better to throw their hat into the ring than one of the internet’s youngest and most controversial social platforms: TikTok.
TikTok’s “Twitter Killer”
Unlike Meta, TikTok does not intend to create a separate app connected to its main platform. Instead, TikTok released a new announcement stating that they will be expanding their content offerings within their current structure.
Users will be able to post text updates up to 1,000 characters long. Unlike other text-based post platforms, TikTok’s text posts can be enhanced by attaching a sound or location tag. Additionally, these posts can be commented on and shared by users just as they would share a photo or video post.
While TikTok has stated that this update is meant to allow users to express themselves and engage with their audiences in new ways, their true intent is clear. By incorporating this text post system into their growing platform, TikTok could overcome Twitter and Threads to become the dominant text-based social media platform. It has yet to be seen which platform will dominate, but it will definitely be a fight for user attention.
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