On the 5th of July, the visual social network Instagram launched Threads, its Twitter (now known as X) rival. Seeing plenty of early adopters rush to the new text-based social media platform wasn't a surprise.
The inimitable "KOT" was seemingly refreshed as a knockoff version of Kenyans on Twitter, questionably reassembled and promised a rejuvenated online community known only as "Kenyans on Threads." Threads will likely remain a hazy photocopy of Twitter’s enigmatic, enthralling, and emotive audience.
I speculate that Threads initial audience was a contrasting clan of cybercitizens. From visionary social media enthusiasts who want bragging rights for being among the first to arrive on a new platform. To virtual real estate cybersquatters who want to go online to ensure they secure precious usernames first - even if they don't publish anything on those profiles. The majority, I'd presume, were Instagram users. Many of whom may not have been as accepted or popular on Twitter. They gladly made the switch - complete with their verified blue checks and loyal Instagram audiences cashing in as followers on a second profile. Threads had a meteoric rise that blew Meta's own expectations out of the water globally.
Recently, the story has been less glorious. Reports estimate that half of all Threads users no longer use it as of late July.
I estimate Threads still to be a wise choice on Meta's part. It hedges them against a revolt on X (formerly known as Twitter) and keeps them giving users an alternative that moves with their social graph from sister app Instagram. It won't be long until Instagram influencers add Threads to their rate cards - another way to cash in on a separate platform.
For Kenya and Africa's scene, as Nendo's 2023/2024 trend predicted, it would take Twitter's death for some hardcore users to move. I foresee challenges for Threads if it exists without trending topics and the same community of literati, politicos, media junkies, and the never-ending race to trend and break news. For some, those are exactly the reasons to avoid Twitter. Some may not consider Threads because to delete your Threads account, you have to delete your Instagram account. This bait-and-switch keeps Meta's numbers juiced up with low active users but a low churn of total users. In other words - good for Wall Street and Meta’s share price.
Something of interest, I believe, would be in nations with repressed internet access. Nations where there may be a daily social media tax. Threads could create a new virtual playing field where Twitter is blocked or needs a VPN to access. If Threads uses its own internet access protocols, it may have to be blocked separately - leaving a window for online expression. How long that window stays open is hard to speculate.
A worry with Threads is that brands who create banality have one more place to forgettably and regrettably publish it. Less because their agencies can't deliver creative ideas and quips, but more because of brand pearl clutching at speaking in distinctive or vaguely memorable ways online. Perhaps a bit of both.
A tragedy would be that instead of taking to the new platform to experiment, explore, and express core brand messages, it becomes a place to repurpose and republish vapid brand cliches. The same tropes in glorious technicolour. A fan ‘unfavourite’ is the stock image of a person of colour like “man at the computer” (used by dozens of other brands at this point), with the image bordered by a logo-ridden frame, captioned by boilerplate marketing jargon with hashtags. #DontForgetOurHashtags.
Heaven forbid Threads adds any hashtags or a ‘trending topics’ list. This is one of the hardest things about X (Twitter) today - the information pollution that has a user searching for five gruelling scrolls of their thumb or mouse to find relevant content in the trends.
It is wise to keep an eye on Threads from as close a distance as you are comfortable. Be it doomscrolling on there between engagement bait, follow trains, and occasionally interesting captions or from afar. Either way, until we see screenshots of media, politics, news, or current affairs breaking on Threads, X still marks the spot.
Author’s end note: This is a more snarky style than normal articles. Discover more balanced and respectable blogs at Nendo.co.ke/blog.