Threads is the next Clubhouse

2 min read
Jul 14, 2023 11:49:11 AM

Today’s Wall Street Journal featured an article that chronicled Threads' growth and its potential threat to Twitter. This article contrasted the messages from Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, representing the divergent paths pursued by their respective social media platforms, Threads and Twitter. Zuckerberg extols Threads as "an open and friendly public space," while Musk lambasts Instagram as a purveyor of “fake happiness.” However, a strategist looks beyond their verbal jousting and assesses these competing platforms through three lenses: desirability, feasibility, and viability.


In our analysis, we're past the heyday of social media. Under Elon Musk's stewardship, Twitter capitalizes on the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) to remain relevant. Likes, retweets, and replies keep users actively engaged until the next provocative tweet drops from a celebrity, athlete, or politician. Musk understands that our brains are intrinsically wired to identify and react to fear, ensuring that maintaining Twitter's controversiality keeps the platform pertinent.


However, Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter brought considerable changes that upset many users. Is Threads simply an attempt to capitalize on Twitter’s weakness or or does it pose a genuine threat? Threads promotes an online experience where Instagram posts turn into meaningful conversations. However, does it make sense to require a separate app for discussions about “featured” consumer products, electronics, or vacation destinations which are, in fact, paid placements?


Who remembers when audio was the trendy product in social media? The first-mover Clubhouse took the lead, raising $100 million at a $1 billion valuation before industry incumbents like Spotify and Twitter launched their competing services. Yet, since the waning of pandemic-induced isolation, Spotify discretely shuttered Spaces, and Twitter recently announced it is “stepping back” from its Circles platform.

Clubhouse managed to raise a Series C at a $4 billion valuation, but who among us still has the app installed on our iPhone?


Clubhouse is a telling case study demonstrating that what might initially seem a viable standalone app often becomes, at best, a feature of existing platforms – a fact that remains subject to debate. Threads, as a Twitter imitation lacking a distinct user benefit, fails to justify its existence as a standalone app. It is likely to be phased out, with its features ultimately incorporated into Instagram once its ad market fails to materialize.


Each app we've discussed hinges on the same value proposition: leveraging free, user-generated content to drive advertising sales to a captive audience gripped by FOMO regarding the latest piece of ostensibly irrelevant content. The misguided quest for non-aligned, incremental revenue can verge on the absurd, underscoring the need for a strategic plan. This plan must be driven by a long-term vision, focused on profitability, and geared towards meeting user-centric needs in alignment with a company’s core values.


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