Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Threads vs. X: the battle for marketing budget

by Jenny Tsai, CEO of influencer marketing platform WeArisma

In recent months, we have seen huge changes in the social media landscape as we know it. Not only has long-time heavyweight Meta offered a ‘friendly rival’ to Twitter, but Twitter itself has now rebranded to X.

With big changes afoot, and as each platform evolves its capabilities and offerings, it will be interesting to see how marketing and advertising budgets follow. Let’s take a look at how the two platforms compare.

Threads may attract influencer marketing budget

Threads enjoyed a strong start, engaging over 100 million users within the first five days of its launch. This was no doubt helped by its built-in links to Instagram, which provide users with free verification through existing accounts. Indeed, Threads’ links to Instagram make it a strong player for the influencer marketing budget, owing to Instagram’s dynamic ecosystem of brands and influencers – particularly when compared to X. Analytics from WeArisma indicate that last year, investment from global luxury and beauty brands, some of the biggest investors in influencers, was on average 83% on Instagram compared to 2% on X/Twitter.

One reason for X not being high on the priority list for brand investment is its discussionary textual format focused on hard news. Instagram, on the other hand, has been attractive to brands due to its focus on lifestyle and entertainment topics, so Threads’ similarities with Instagram could prove advantageous. Moreover, Instagram has a reputation for being a safe and friendly environment for brands and influencers alike, both of which are paramount considerations for brands and advertisers.  

From a reputation standpoint, the links between Threads and Instagram will likely prove advantageous due to Instagram’s strong ethic of content moderation, particularly as Meta has already indicated it’s committed to making the environment for communities on Threads “friendly”. X’s lack of robust moderation, on the other hand, has decreased brand trust in the platform. Threads could therefore emerge as a favourite for marketing spend if it can put reputation, community and brand safety at its core. 

Will Threads be able to retain its user base?

Although Threads is raising serious questions about its potential to outpace X’s brand spend, it has seen a significant loss in active users. Brands and advertisers are attracted to social media platforms on which they can reach a larger community base. And Threads saw its user base fall by more than 80% to 8 million within just a few weeks of its launch. 

However, despite Threads’ smaller user base, it has been reported that brands are getting more engagement on Threads than on X, which may indicate that Threads shares Instagram’s endorsement culture. With this in mind, if Threads successfully grows and retains its user base, the platform could become a strong contender for marketing and advertising budgets.

What could hold Threads back is a lack of features that brands and users alike would expect, which is natural at this stage of growth as the platform needs time to mature. Threads is already rolling out new features, including a much-desired web browser version and others will follow.

The impact of X’s rebranding is yet to be seen

Following X’s rebranding, advertisers and brands are now trying to understand not only what the rebrand means for its users, as the time spent per user fell 7% for the week and daily sessions 6% after the rebrand, but also what the brand means for their own affiliation with the platform.

These concerns however may be short-term as the rebrand plays a role in Elon Musk’s larger vision for the future of the platform. Indeed, despite some setbacks, X saw a 20% increase in worldwide installs week-over-week following the rebranding and a 3-4% increase in weekly user growth. But with the recent news that X could be going behind a paywall, there remains uncertainty over the resiliency of its user base.

A battle to attract talent and influencers with strong monetisation opportunities?

A central component of the marketing and advertising interest for both X and Threads will be based on their ability to attract influencers through strong monetisation opportunities. X has only introduced opportunities for influencer monetisation in recent months but has seen positive feedback on revenue rates from creators. However, X still keeps 99% of ad revenue, and users must be verified to be able to monetise their content. If Threads incorporates more attractive monetisation options it’s likely to entice creators and influencers that have been loyal to X, away.

Uncertain battlegrounds

Although Threads’ potential for creating a dynamic ecosystem of brands, influencers and communities may look promising, it is still early days. The platform needs time to mature and brands, influencers and communities need time to adopt it. As for X, it is clear that change is afoot as Musk’s larger vision for the platform plays out. 

With both platforms in new territory, the jury is still out on who ends up providing stronger opportunities for brands, advertisers and influencers.

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