Dina Saad is public relations and event planning manager in the Office of the Vice President at Mansoura University in Egypt, where she also received her B.A. and her first master’s degree in Entertainment and Tourism. She recently received her second master’s degree in Mass Communications Research and Theory from California State University Fullerton (CSUF), and served there as outreach coordinator for PRSSA.
Imagine social media as a simmering pot of stew. With every year, we toss in a new ingredient, sometimes enhancing the flavor, other times changing it altogether. Lately, the buzz is all about Threads — Meta’s newest spice in the mix — and everyone’s curious whether it’s the next heady aroma or just a fleeting scent.
Threads is carving out its own niche. While Twitter is the go-to for instant access to trending news and hot topics, Threads emphasizes personal connections and deeper discussions. This distinct focus gives it an intimate and user friendly aura, setting it apart from its counterparts.
The other allure of Threads is its connection to Instagram. Comparing Threads with Twitter, some college students we spoke to view Threads as an Instagram-like platform with fewer features, while others appreciate its potential integration with Instagram’s existing follower base. It’s like inviting your school buddies to a university party; there’s already an intimacy, no icebreakers needed. “For me,” Ahmed, a sophomore at Mansoura University, said, “Threads is that secret clubhouse where I get to chat deep into the night with my Instagram pals.”
But Twitter’s troubles are also playing a major role in Threads’ story. The takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk has been a turning point for some users. Many have expressed dissatisfaction with the changes implemented post-takeover, such as the introduction of paid features and the controversial rebranding to X. This has, in fact, led some users to consider Threads as a viable alternative. This sentiment is encapsulated by San Miguel, a senior at California State University Fullerton, who remarked, “Overall, I feel as though changing a very well recognized brand that people rely on is kind of a shock. Now that I see the boring X compared to the bird, I just feel uninterested in going into the app now.”
Despite this, Twitter is not being completely abandoned. The platform’s established reputation, diverse user base and unique content continue to draw them back. Garcia, a graduate student from California State University Fullerton, said, “Twitter will forever be one of my favorite platforms but Threads is definitely going to take some time to get used to even if it is similar to Twitter.” However, if Threads can introduce additional desired features, it may sway more Twitter loyalists, as mentioned by San Miguel. “I don’t think I’ll be able to rely on Twitter the same way,” he said. “Especially if Threads creates their own trending tab.”
On that note, here’s a sprinkle of humor to our stew: one student I talked to shared a story about missing the “viewing liked posts” feature on Threads. As if by magic, the feature popped up a couple of days later. Coincidence? Probably. But it’s always fun to imagine that Threads has some mystical genie waiting for our feedback. Here’s hoping they grant us more of those wishes!
Still, it’s not all roses and rainbows for Threads. For some, the allure is still growing. Remember when you first tried avocado toast? It wasn’t love at first bite for everyone. Similarly, for many young folks, Threads is intriguing but hasn’t completely captured their hearts. They’re still very much in the honeymoon phase with platforms like TikTok, which had them at “hello.” Similarly, as Smith, a second year graduate student at CSUF, highlighted, “Honestly it just seems like Instagram’s version of Twitter and I’m not a huge fan of Twitter so I’m not really interested in it.” And Kelley, a graduate student from CSUF said, “I don’t plan on downloading or trying it out because I think it’s going to take more to get me to download something. With TikTok there’s such a good hook, that app can keep me on there for hours.”
The initial launch of Threads created a stir, but data suggests that the usage has declined by 70% since its launch. While Threads boasts ease of transition from Instagram and a more personalized approach, other students also note that it lacks fundamental features. For example, Ong, a senior in CSUF, said, “First off, there’s still a ton of features that were crucial to my needs that were absent from Threads – a dedicated ‘follow feed’, no proper hashtag or search function, and the notification feed is hard to navigate.”
However, one can’t deny the potential Threads has, especially considering the waves in the Twitter pool. As Twitter experiences its own form of student angst with identity shifts and new directions, Threads is seizing the moment, hoping to entice those looking for a new digital hangout. As San Miguel said, “I think Threads is interesting. I felt as though some of the functions of Threads matched that of Twitter and it has room to grow with future updates. However, I personally just posted my art and poetry on both platforms. I found it easier to cultivate a large audience on Twitter and it was unfortunate to lose that.”
On the flip side, Kevin, a college graduate from CSUF, and Alaa, a junior at Mansoura University, didn’t even bother downloading Threads. “I’m more used to Twitter (X),” said Kevin, “so it’s more inclined for me to tap into it and watch the things I want to watch since I’ve trained the algorithm already.”
After a comprehensive dive into the evolving world of social media, it’s clear that platforms like Threads and Twitter, with their unique characteristics and strengths, are competing for users’ attention in this digital age. Many are captivated by Threads’ intimacy, echoing Dawn, a college graduate from CSUF: “I like it and think it will replace Twitter… it’s connected to IG so I don’t have to worry about following all my friends.” Yet, there’s an undying loyalty to Twitter as expressed by Garcia, stating “Twitter will never be replaced for me.” The initial appeal of Threads is evident in Ong’s observation about its seamless transition from Instagram, but he also candidly acknowledges its shortcomings and the challenges it faces in truly rivaling Twitter’s entrenched position. San Miguel‘s profound take encapsulates many users’ perspectives on the turbulence within Twitter post Musk’s takeover: “The platform of Twitter seems more exclusive now… I don’t think Musk handled it well at all.” As Kelley straightforwardly puts it about Threads: “I think it’s going to take more to get me to download it.” The digital stew continues to simmer, and with every new addition, the dynamic changes. Will Threads weave a future where it stands tall, or will Twitter’s iconic presence persist, forever ingrained in our digital hearts?
What makes the competition even more tantalizing is the element of surprise. No one knows what trick Threads or Twitter will pull out next. Will Twitter introduce an entirely new feature that reaffirms its place at the top, or will Threads weave its magic and become the go-to platform for those seeking deeper, more intimate connections? Only time will tell.