Threads: Will the Primordial Soup Evolve?

Threads' Biggest Challenge

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Threads. Threads Threads Threads. Threads Threads Threads Threads Threads. THREADS.

Are you bored yet? No? Me neither. But maybe you will be soon. That’s the point of this post.

This week Meta / Facebook / launched a new social app, designed to be a non-hellscape version of Twitter. Over 50 million people signed up, writing over 95 million posts. Consider the social media world taken by storm.

If you want to read an intelligent perspective on how and why this happened, you can read Turner Novak’s piece, Liz Hagelthorn’s, or Jack Appleby’s (for brands). All are excellent.

I do, however, just want to add one point to the dialogue. Something difficult that Threads needs to overcome. Pull out your time machines because we are going back billions of years for this analogy.

Threads: The Primordial Soup

Everything is pointing to Threads being a massive success: unprecedented growth, ridiculous D1 retention, and I’d imagine exceptionally long user time spent in app. Everything about it is beyond the wildest dreams of a consumer-social VC.

But let’s look under the hood. When you actually use the app, what’s the content like?

It only takes about 5 minutes to realise that all the content is about Threads.

This is perfect for our dopamine loops. By definition, everyone using Threads cares about Threads. And the best part is that it doesn’t really matter who is posting about Threads, we’ll embrace it all the same. Threads content is, at least at first, universal, equalising and non-discriminatory.

I have named this the Threads Primordial Soup after the conditions of the earth’s surface 4 billion years ago. Carbon, hydrogen, water vapour, and ammonia were all said to have combined into a proto-living matter which formed the conditions for life. Threads content is the makeup of this sludge, and one subject rings out unanimously: Threads. And we’re gobbling it up.

Primordial Soup —> Speciation

For the first day (or week or month) of Threads, Primordial Soup works great. Everyone wants to read and post about Threads. Who cares if the content is all the same? Give the people what they want!

But eventually Threads content will get boring. It just will. Memes don’t last long. And Threads content will be no different.

And once Threads content gets boring, people will start to actually care about who is populating their feed. I repeat: after getting tired of Threads content, the Primordial Soup isn’t going to cut it.

How do I know this? Look at Twitter. Wait, what’s Twitter? Well, it’s:

  • Tech Twitter

  • Rightwing Twitter

  • Leftwing Twitter

  • Football (soccer) Twitter, not to be confused with football (American) Twitter

  • Black Twitter

  • Gaming Twitter

  • Streaming Twitter

  • Communist Twitter (I should know as my uncle is a daily contributor)

People get hooked to Twitter because they find their community there. It’s a lot more like Reddit than people give it credit for. That’s why the network effects are so damn strong.

In other words, Twitter started as a Primordial Soup, and has spent the last decade+ speciating (named after the evolutionary process by which new species form). Using follows, likes, RTs and engagement time as a metric, Twitter has been able to build communities into highly relevant user groups. Twitter is made up of trees, fungi, and even dinosaurs roaming the planes of the Pangea.

What does this mean for Threads?

People are ready to embarrass Elon, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate boredom. For Threads to have lasting usage, even after Threads as a subject matter area runs dry, users will quickly need to be guided towards their communities (“species”) on Threads.

But Threads does not have the decades of data that Twitter has. There is not yet such a thing as “Tech Threads”, “Black Threads“ or “Communist Threads”. These will all need to be formed, fast. Whether this speciation is possible will depend on:

  1. How quickly users find and follow their communities

  2. How relevant existing Instagram follower graphs are

  3. How effectively Threads can impute communities from usage data

None are guaranteed. It took billions of years for proto-life to form, and Threads doesn’t have that luxury.

The clock is ticking on subculture speciation. I’m feeling the first itches of Threads fatigue myself, and I don’t get bored (that) easily.

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