Ever since Elon Musk purchased Twitter, users have been polarized. In December of 2022, Mastodon seemed like a promising alternative. Although it could still take off, it has yet to see the rapid success most social platforms see when they climb the ranks. As users continue to search for the Holy Grail of Twitter replacements (or perhaps just hope for Twitter improvements), Bluesky Social has come on the scene.
Sun is shinin’ in the Bluesky
Spearheaded by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Social was originally intended to be an open-source platform that would later integrate with Twitter. Musk’s purchasing of Twitter stopped this plan, but Bluesky was still able to exist and function as it was set up as a separate entity.
Similar to Mastodon, Bluesky’s goal is to be a decentralized, federated platform. It hopes to incorporate community-specific moderation. Bluesky has not fully launched yet, but it is operating a beta version with invite-only sign ups. Users can earn shareable invite codes after every two weeks of use. It is unclear at this time whether or not the invite-only style of account creation will remain as a long-term feature or if it only exists during the beta testing period.
How does Bluesky compare to Twitter? Well, it’s quite similar. The interface is nearly identical, and users can share posts with a limited character count (currently 256 characters). Unlike Twitter, usernames function more like domain names. The default is @username.bsky.social, but you can opt for a custom domain name if you own one.
All in all, there is some definite promise for Bluesky, and it has gained some traction in the last few weeks as Twitter users regularly seek out invite codes.
A Challenger Approaches
As of last week, Musk rolled out a new initiative to slow bot-scraping. This was done, in part, to curb data mining for training artificial intelligence. As a potentially unintended side-effect, the initiative resulted in limiting the amount of posts a user can view on Twitter. This sparked even more conversation about Bluesky and served as the perfect catalyst for driving users to Meta’s newly launched app, Threads.
It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg wants to expand his reach on the internet. Threads is another link in a long chain of platforms that Meta (i.e. Facebook) owns.
Like Twitter, Threads focuses on micro-blogging. There’s a 500-character limit to posts. You can also share up to 10 photos per post, videos that are 5 minutes or less, and links to outside websites. There’s talk of supporting the same protocol used by Mastodon, and other open-source social platforms, so that Threads can be integrated with that kind of framework.
Unlike Twitter, Threads has a direct connection to Instagram. When signing up, users need to utilize an Instagram account. Sign-up will then carry over your username, your following list, and your credentials for use on Threads. This is uniquely convenient to Threads, although it is worth mentioning that users cannot currently delete a Threads account without also deleting the associated Instagram account.
Let ‘em Cook
Despite very early excitement, Threads poses the same privacy concerns that Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and nearly every other major social media poses. And, with the promise of upcoming open-source integration, there are questions about Meta’s intent to overtake that market as well.
At this point, it’s far too early to say if either Threads or Bluesky will successfully supplant Twitter as the new micro-blogging, communal conversation hotspot online. And, the competition may in fact spur better changes at Twitter that users will ultimately be happier with. Only time will tell, so, as the kids say we need to let ‘em cook.
Does this have anything to do with marketing?
If nothing else, we can learn some interesting marketing lessons from the beta launch of Bluesky and sudden launch of Threads. Both platforms are attempting to fill a perceived void that Twitter is leaving as users continue to express dissatisfaction with its current direction. Meta has been able to capitalize on their current users, fondness for Instagram, and users’ distrust of Musk to drive their numbers sky-high in mere hours.
Bluesky, on the other hand, is trying a more exclusive model with the invite-only option. This feature capitalizes on scarcity mindset and the fear of missing out. Both of these are powerful motivators and have encouraged user-hopefuls to scour the internet for invite codes.
From these examples, we can see positioning in action. Both Bluesky and Threads have examined what their main competitor, Twitter, is doing wrong and are attempting to offer something better. It will be interesting to see how things develop from here.
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