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12 September 2023

S9 - E4: Threads vs. Twitter – Matt Navarra

Welcome to the Threads vs. Twitter Debate!

Matt Navarra is one of Europe’s most well-known and in-demand social media consultants. With 20+ years of industry experience. Matt has worked with some of the world’s most popular brands including Meta, Google and United Nations.

Besides his consulting work, Matt is a renowned industry speaker and thought leader. He has delivered keynote speeches, conducted workshops, and participated in panel discussions at major conferences worldwide, sharing his invaluable insights and inspiring professionals to push the boundaries of social media marketing.

In the fast-paced world of social media, communication professionals are constantly seeking new ways to engage with their audiences and deliver impactful messages. Today, we dive deep into a captivating debate that has been brewing in the digital sphere: Threads vs. Twitter.

Join us on this thought-provoking podcast as we explore the pros, cons, and endless possibilities of these two powerful communication tools. We’ll dissect the unique features, functionalities, and strategic advantages that Threads and Twitter bring to the table, all while catering to the interests and needs of comms, marketing, and PR professionals.

Podcast questions

  1. What are some common misconceptions or misunderstandings you’ve come across when it comes to comparing Threads and Twitter?
  2. In your experience, what are the key considerations communication professionals should keep in mind when deciding between Threads and Twitter for their brand or client?
  3. As an industry expert, what are your thoughts on what Threads need to do to remain popular and engaging?
  4. There is a lot of experimentation going on by brands on how they maximise the value of Threads. Are there any brands that stand out for you in these early stages?
  5. Looking ahead, what trends or developments do you foresee in the Threads vs. Twitter debate? Are there any emerging features or functionalities that could potentially tip the scales in favour of one platform over the other?
Transcript

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry:
Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re My CommsHero podcast, and I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today, my guest is Matt Navarra. Matt is one of Europe’s most well-known and in-demand social media consultants with 20 years of industry experience. Matt has worked with some of the world’s most popular brands, including Meta, Google, and the United Nations. And besides his consulting work, Matt is a renowned industry speaker and a thought leader. He’s delivered major… keynote speeches, conducted workshops and participated in panel discussions, major conferences worldwide, sharing his valuable insights and inspiring professionals to push the boundaries of social media marketing. So thanks for joining me Matt and it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

Matt Navarra:
Thanks for having me.

Asif Choudry:
So let’s do some getting to know you stuff before we get into the main crux of this, which I’ll cover shortly. So Matt, what’s your most played song on your Spotify list at the moment?

Matt Navarra:
You know what, it tends to rotate between anything that’s dance orientated, so mostly anything by Fred again, anything that’s kind of music from Tomorrowland or anything that’s come out of any of the recent festivals. So it’s a rotation of dance music, I would say at the moment.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, brilliant. So a little insight there. So which famous person would you invite to dinner and why?

Matt Navarra:
It’s tricky, well I’d probably be either Barack Obama or someone like Louis Thoreau. I think they would have enough stories between them to tell which would be fascinating. They would have a different perspective on life so they would probably be up there in my list.

Asif Choudry:
Amazing, I want to come to that dinner party for sure. Let’s get them both, we’ll get them both on, that’d be amazing. And final ones getting to know you, just three words to describe you then, Matt.

Matt Navarra:
I think people would probably describe me as being impatient, probably a little bit obsessed as in my job, I’m kind of obsessed over what I do and probably pretty down to earth and pretty easy to get to know. So those are some of the ways I hope people would see me anyway.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, excellent. Okay, so we’re gonna, just going into the podcast itself, so I’ll just give a bit of an intro here. So in this fast paced world of social media, communications professionals are constantly seeking new ways to engage with their audiences and deliver impactful messages. And today we’re gonna deep dive into a captivating debate that has been brewing in the digital sphere, which is threads versus Twitter, and Zuckerberg versus Musk. And I’ve loved your commentary on social with various memes and what have you to depict that. It’s been fascinating to watch. So on this, what will certainly be a thought-provoking podcast, Matt’s going to explore the pros, cons and endless possibilities of these two powerful communications tools. And we’re gonna dissect some of the unique features, functionalities and strategic advantages that threads and Twitter bring to the table. All while catering for the interests and needs of comms, marketing and… So I’m going to kick straight in with the first question. So Matt, what are some common misconceptions or misunderstandings that you’ve come across when it comes to comparing threads to Twitter?

Matt Navarra:
Well, I think that people, and probably reasonably so, have thought that this would be a Twitter killer and it will kill Twitter in some way and by a year from now Twitter will not be alive and then this is the app that’s gonna do it. And I don’t think it was ever billed as that necessarily by Meta. That was certainly a media thing. I think they set out to create something that is similar to Twitter and is familiar to people who use that platform. and has the ability to maybe pull people across from the platform onto threads. Certainly those that are fed up with what’s been happening with the platform. But

Asif Choudry:
Yeah.

Matt Navarra:
I don’t think there’s any goal or aspiration for it to destroy the platform, nor do I think that Meta thinks that they’re able to somehow completely destroy it. And there’s too much going on over there for that to happen. So I think that’s the main misconception about it. I think also there’s a misconception maybe that people need to reinvent the wheel slightly and they’re probably getting too caught up in anxiety around what do I do on this new platform? I need to come up with some fantastic new comms strategy or social media strategy to kind of you know get the best out of the platform early on and if I don’t do it now that’s it’s game over and I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think as we’ll probably discuss you know most of the brands and creators and influencers that are on threads that are having any level of success at this stage are literally taking what they’re doing on other similar platforms. Some of that’s Twitter, some of that’s from the style of TikTok, if funnily enough, because the content has a lot of shared similarities, and Instagram, of course, and then repurposing it in either the exact same way or a similar way. So I think those are the initially the misconceptions or all the things that people are over focusing on.

Asif Choudry:
Yes, so do you think then in your experience, then what do you think are the key considerations that comms professionals should keep in mind when deciding between, if indeed they do need to decide between threads and Twitter for their brand and or their client or their agency? And are there certain industries or communications goals where one platform may have a clear advantage?

Matt Navarra:
Well, at the moment, Twitter still has a larger audience and has a huge level of cultural relevance, which is one of the things that Twitter has always had more of than maybe people think it deserves, given kind of it’s had so many problems over the years and it’s never really made a lot of money for the company. And size wise, when you compare it to TikTok or Instagram or any other app, it’s fairly small in the fraction of the size of those platforms. And so, but still it has a larger audience than threads at this time and still has that level of relevance. So for those marketers and comms professionals working for brands or businesses of any type that has a choice between the two, then there’s still a lot of value and probably will be for some time on Twitter. But the downside at the moment with Twitter of course is brand safety in terms of the ability to kind of, or how comfortable you are. putting your content and you are engaging on a platform that has all sorts of safety issues in terms of where your content could show up and what other tweets could show up around it. And also maybe a moral or ethical decision, you know, in terms of some of the behaviors and tweets and decisions made by Elon Musk could be at odds with your own organizations and that could give you another reason why maybe you would just want to do more on threads. than on Twitter. So those are some of the initial kind of decision factors. But in terms of, you know, if you’re making a comparison between Twitter and threads in terms of the style and format of the content, there’s not a great deal of difference between them because they are text platforms with a cap or a limit on characters. And you can attach images or videos on both platforms and they have the similar sort of functionality in terms of repost or retweet. and liking engaging in replies to tweets or replies to threads. In terms of the differences, I think the vibe and the personality of the platforms is quite different. And that’s driven by the fact that Twitter has got a long history and is obviously tied very strongly to Elon Musk and what he’s doing most of the time, which is for most people not great. And then they’ve got… threads, which is very much geared towards being more aligned to Instagram and what sort of content and the sorts of people that you would find on, on Instagram. And so when you look at threads, it’s kind of a weird mashup hybrid between Twitter, cause it looks and feels a bit like Twitter,

Asif Choudry:
Yeah.

Matt Navarra:
Instagram, because it’s tied to Instagram and it’s pulling in a lot of people from there to kind of feel, feel the platform up. But the content, you know, also has a lot of similarity with things like TikTok in terms of its quirkiness and its kind of entertainment value, but it hasn’t obviously got quite a stronger video presence given that it’s not a video platform. So, there’s quite a lot of things to consider when deciding how to approach threads.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, we’ve seen we’re recording this kind of mid-July, a few weeks into Threads existence, and there are certain things I’ve seen in your commentary, like there’s some of the similarities where Threads has still got to implement those, like chronological feeds and things like that. Are there any of those things in particular that you’ve kind of highlighted and think that they or know when they’re coming in or when they should come in?

Matt Navarra:
Well, they’re pretty quick at the moment in terms of turning it around, you know, they’ve released two updates to the iOS app In its first two weeks and I think they’re on a weekly update cycle So pretty much every Tuesday Wednesday, you’ll see another app updates on iOS at least I think androids may be on a different schedule, but you know similar updates and they’ve you know in the last 24 hours They’ve added the ability to translate inline translations and they fix some small issues to do with notifications and they’ve you know tweaked some of the design elements and stuff. But I would expect, you know, they’ve already, I think Adam Nazary from Instagram has said that the features for, you know, chronological feed and improvements to the feed in general, which seemed to be where most people’s criticisms are being levied in terms of too much recommended content, lots of stuff from accounts I don’t follow, and not really having a sense of time and ordering because there is no chronology unto it. So it doesn’t feel like. Twitter and if it was meant to be like Twitter or compete with Twitter, then that’s quite critical as something to solve to make it be more competitive. Because at the moment, for a platform that looks and feels a lot like Twitter, it doesn’t have the same kind of core strengths that Twitter has. So I think we will see a lot of those changes. And I think the other things that are coming down further down the line they’ve talked about, of course, is the Fedaverse stuff, which is the integration with the… Activity Pub protocol, which for those who are not familiar with is the one of the well-known, more better known decentralized platform protocols, which is used by Mastodon, which will enable when it’s launched, it will mean that you could potentially post things in that on Mastodon and it could show up in if you wanted it to in threads and vice versa. And also if you wanted to leave threads and go to another platform that is you know compatible with that. protocol you could do so, which I think for a lot of creators and those that are skeptical and cynical about Meta’s likely behaviours will feel maybe a bit more comfortable that they can export themselves from the platform maybe in the future.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, now you mentioned Mastodon then. I remember when Mastodon came out at the beginning of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and certainly my timeline, I’m sure yours and many others were filled with screen grabs of Mastodon profiles and you’ll find me on here, which that didn’t seem to take off. Do you think threads is, well, certainly in the number of users that are signed up has… suggests it would have a far different more positive trajectory and take up than mastodon. Do you think that’s going to be the case then with threads or will it disappear into the ether in what’s probably less than a year from mastodon?

Matt Navarra:
I don’t think that we’ll see threads disappear quite the same as we’ve seen the kind of disappearance of things like Be Real and even today Lemonade, which is by now this is kind of newer thing that’s kind of not doing so well anymore, it kind of was here and then disappeared. And then we’ve seen Clubhouse come and go. And they all had very specific characteristics and factors that have led them to. to be a flash in the pan. You know, the clubhouse was destined to kind of like struggle beyond the COVID pandemic because it was a really a lived and breathed because of the pandemic and people wanted entertainment things to do and it was able to be very useful for, you know, recording audio at home in those environments where we were all locked down and once we were all free to do what we want again, other content became easier to produce and people wanted that instead. And Be Real was a platform that has a singular Functional feature which people you know found was a novelty it was fun That was quite quickly imitated and copied by every other platform And then it’s you know unique selling point was gone, and I don’t think we’ll see much Excitement from be real going forwards other than a few updates over time, and I think the threads is a far more robust Platform it’s got lots more features and potential for growth. You know it’s leading on platform that has been to some degree already tried

Asif Choudry:
Thanks

Matt Navarra:
and tested

Asif Choudry:
for watching!

Matt Navarra:
and it’s popular to a certain extent. But now Instagram needs to figure out a way of making it appealing and engaging enough to people that wouldn’t typically use Twitter because Twitter seemed to hit this ceiling of about two, 300 million users and it hasn’t really burst through that. And so for Instagram, if they want to make it successful, they need to do something that, they can’t just make it something that’s like Twitter that appeals to Twitter users

Asif Choudry:
Yeah.

Matt Navarra:
because they’ll hit the same issue. It has to appeal to. your average Instagram user, for example. In terms of the mastodon stuff, mastodon, the decentralized element of social media platforms, I don’t think is that particularly that interesting or exciting at the moment to most, the average social media user. I think you’d ask, if you asked 100 social media users about the kind of terminology, many of them, most of them probably wouldn’t know really what that even meant and why it was important. And so that’s why they haven’t made a huge… big deal about it, but in the years ahead, it will become more of a standard thing that platforms offer the ability to connect across multiple platforms and export your audience and own your audience and then having less control. And Meta’s challenge now will be to make decentralized platform features more accessible and easier to understand and use because Matt Mastodon famously is very clunky and technical and uses a lot of jargon and people don’t really understand it other than those are hardened tech enthusiasts. The other challenge that Instagram and MetaMool faces is that they’re going to be heavy resistance from people that are, you know, in that space in the Fediverse who view Meta as a kind of the big bad corporation that’s kind of muscling in on their territory that’s going to do bad things and is not to be trusted and they don’t want it to be part of that. that world, it’s their kind of land, so to speak. And so that resistance will start becoming challenging for them. So they’re aware of that. And I think that that’s gonna be a space to sort of watch for the next year or so as they build these features into threads.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, so it sounds like certainly that they, you described there some of the things that Threads needs to do to remain popular and engagement. Do you think there’s anything else to add to that?

Matt Navarra:
I think that it needs to give people a sense of what it’s about, who it is, a bit of brand personality, a bit of a kind of a sense of purpose. At the moment, I don’t get any sense of why would we use threads over any other platform beyond the, I just don’t like Twitter and I want something that’s like Twitter that’s not Elon Musk’s Twitter. That’s okay to a degree for a certain small subset of users, but for the average… Instagram or TikTok user that kind of isn’t really a heavy user of Twitter, doesn’t really care about the whole drama with Elon Musk. What’s their reason for being on there beyond it just being another new platform, you know, with TikTok, it has a very clear brand personality and it has it in a very specific style and tone of content and people know what to expect there is an entertainment app. Is threads going to be a news app? Well, they’ve said that they don’t want it to be a news app like Twitter, they’ve already told us that whether that happens or not, we will see. You know, it’s not Instagram because there is already Instagram. They wouldn’t want to cannibalize Instagram, which already exists because that wouldn’t be good business. So it’s not Instagram. So what is it? Because that will help social media marketers, comms professionals figure out what’s the use case here and what’s the sort of. audience type and what sort of content will be best to go here. So I think a clearer sense of identity and purpose which will also help it build a community because one of the other issues it’s got is the fact that it’s added 130 million now probably or more users in a space of a couple of weeks and we’ve seen in the history of social media that when you put in a space online millions of people quickly and see how it goes. Typically it doesn’t go particularly well because there’s too many differing opinions and no one can really settle and figure out what’s going on. You need to kind of slow burn for communities to form and little fractions, little groups to kind of, clusters to kind of build themselves. And so there’s like on TikTok, there’s lots of hashtags for book talk, or there’s people that are interested in, I don’t know, anything to do with fashion and beauty or to do with. any obscure kind of interest they’re in. There’s a community that can be found and has organically developed sometimes on the platform. I think the speed of growth of threads has meant that hasn’t even had a chance to happen and it needs to, I think. So I think those are some of the important things. And also I think it needs to get over trying to be, we know it’s like Twitter now, it’s a bit like Twitter,

Asif Choudry:
Damn.

Matt Navarra:
but we need to give us something more. beyond that, or if it’s going to be very similar to Twitter, then it needs to do what Twitter does but do it better. And without a chronological feed, without a news being there, which is what they’re saying, they’re resisting, it’s going to find it very hard to be a replacement for Twitter.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, so there’s obviously with it being news, a lot of experimentation going on by brands on how they maximize the value of threads. So are there any brands or individuals, influencers that stand out for you in these early stages?

Matt Navarra:
Well, that’s the tricky thing at the moment is there isn’t any, I would say, from my perspective, standout brands because we’re in we’re only two weeks in and most strategies that are being employed by social media managers or by brands is one of repurposing existing content from similar platforms, which mostly is Twitter and a bit of Instagram thrown in. So, you know, the strategy doesn’t need to be particularly sophisticated or elaborate or highly innovative really for people to have success on threads or to kind of play on threads. It just needs to be low risk, it needs to be you know low lift in terms of effort and lots of experimentation and what you’re seeing with big brands well big brands and small brands is that many of them are simply taking what they’re doing on Twitter predominantly but also some of their other platforms. and taking their greatest hits or some of their most successful posts and repurposing them on threads or mirroring or sometimes completely in sync sometimes just some of the stuff that they’re doing at the same time on Twitter is being kind of reposted on onto threads and then they’ll experiment to see what works what kind of formats what kind of language what kind of imagery and videos and topics are resonating and then building upon that and figuring out organically what a new strategy might look like for content. I’m sure there probably are brands and creators that I’ve not seen that are doing things that are very distinctly unique to the threads, but without us really knowing what threads is or will become. And with brands having many other competing platforms to choose from and content to create for them, it would… not be sensible, I would say at this early, very, very early stage in creating huge amounts of bespoke content and having a unique playbook strategy for a platform in just two weeks old. So yeah, it’s hard to, it’s very hard to say Netflix or, or Amazon or somebody is doing something highly sophisticated because really it’s throwing out as much as they can see what sticks and then building from there.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, there’s already probably

Matt Navarra:
I didn’t

Asif Choudry:
some

Matt Navarra:
catch that.

Asif Choudry:
future gazing horizon

Matt Navarra:
That was?

Asif Choudry:
scanning that’s going on with.

Matt Navarra:
I didn’t catch that.

Asif Choudry:
Let

Matt Navarra:
Did

Asif Choudry:
me just

Matt Navarra:
you try

Asif Choudry:
what I’ll

Matt Navarra:
again?

Asif Choudry:
do is I’ll just put an edit in there.

Matt Navarra:
Sorry about that, not sure what happened there.

Asif Choudry:
No, that’s all right. We’re not live and that’s the beauty of not being live.

Matt Navarra:
No worries.

Asif Choudry:
Not a problem. So I’ll come in with that last question then. So looking ahead as many of us comms professionals like to do even when it’s just two weeks old, are there any trends or developments that you in your expert opinion foresee in the threads versus Twitter debate? And are there any emerging features or functionalities? that could potentially tip the scales in the favour of one platform

Matt Navarra:
Well, I think

Asif Choudry:
over the other.

Matt Navarra:
that for the companies and brands that are concerned about the downfall of Twitter and the safety issues of Twitter, that the big selling point for them is gonna be how well Meta and Instagram keep threads a safe place and a well moderated place for them to be able to operate in and ultimately it as well develop a ads platform that enables them to either work with creators or to use Meta’s, you know, very successful, probably the best in the industry, and targeted platform. That’s something that probably we won’t see for a little while, but they initially were saying 12 months was the timeframe before they’ll layer on an ad platform. I think we’re probably gonna start seeing it within the next three to six, maybe nine months time, because they’re already speaking to agencies about the opportunities with the platforms, they’re already warming them up, and the speed at the platform has grown, and the interest in the platform has far exceeded what they’re… internal projections were by many multiples. So I think that the timeline for that will be brought forward. So that’s gonna be a significant junction for its future success, for when that happens. And we’re gonna see branded content. I think they’ve already said they’re gonna trial ability to kind of collaborate more with creators early on. So we’ll see that coming through soon. In terms of content, I think that that… as I say, the chronological feed will be a significant development because that will make it feel more real time and give us that sense of what Twitter offers that kind of go to place when something’s happening in the world, whether it’s to do with news or culture or, or entertainment or something that’s happening that needs that real time element for us to pull people in. And I think we’ll see that kind of emerge in the coming weeks as they bring those features in. In terms of content, I think that that’s the space to kind of be watched and see what you know, watch what brands and in your vertical are doing, what you know, if you work in this space of you’re an optician, you know, what are the biggest brands in opticians doing? What are companies that if you if you be working fashion, what are boohoo and pretty little things and any other brand that’s trendy is doing you know, sheen and weather. So you know, I think it’s watching what they’re doing, seeing how they’re adapting to the platform. But also from your, you don’t need to be a huge brand to kind of, or watch a huge brand to learn from things. You can experiment yourself. That’s the beauty of having a new platform. It’s probably the best and most fun time to be a social media professional because you can really get away with a lot more. It’s it’s forgiving. People accept that this is new and you might put things out that don’t do very well or don’t necessarily feel right for the platform. And you see that the engagement isn’t there in a new don’t do that again, you do something different. And so I think this is a great opportunity at the moment for any size business to be throwing out all sorts of experimental kind of ideas and pieces of content and engagement and kind of activities to see what works and then going from there. So I think those are certainly the next few months, and the next six to 12 months, the decentralized stuff, I think is something that’s far less important to most people, particularly brands. I think it’s much more interesting to creators if anything. And then finally, on that point, this platform will be made make or break based on its relationship with creators, much like many other platforms at the moment. If they can appeal to creators by creating opportunities for them to monetize their activity and their content and people, the best creators are on the platform, meaning that people want to be there to see their content. and maybe how they have some sort of bespoke content from those creators that they can’t find, say on TikTok or elsewhere, that will be a big incentive for the people to keep coming back and engaging on the platform. So that’s a significant win for them if they can make that happen.

Asif Choudry:
Thank you for that, Matt. That’s amazing. I feel like I’ve just done a chat GPT, very bespoke search, but actually had a human response to this threads V Twitter debate. So, and there’ll be the listeners will have really enjoyed that. And for those that there might be the odd one or two that don’t know you. So where’s the best place for people to find you and connect with you and. you know, consume some of the vast amount of content and the opinion that you

Matt Navarra:
Well,

Asif Choudry:
have on

Matt Navarra:
I’m

Asif Choudry:
things on

Matt Navarra:
always

Asif Choudry:
social

Matt Navarra:
the

Asif Choudry:
media.

Matt Navarra:
same on Twitter and threads, so you can find me in my handle, which is at Matt Navarro. And if you’re interested, I do a weekly newsletter every Friday called geek out. And that brings all together all of the news from the week in one place. And if you’re interested in getting that free newsletter, you can go to geek out dot Matt Navarro dot com and you can subscribe for free.

Asif Choudry:
Excellent. And you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, Apple or your chosen platform and on our website, comshero.com. You can follow us on Twitter at comshero and on threads as well. I suppose I have to include that now. It’s comshero underscore. And if you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please leave a rating review and hit the follow and subscribe button. And we have new episodes that come out every two weeks. So it might be an absolute pleasure. Some fantastic information there for the listeners to take away.

Matt Navarra:
You’re welcome.

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