Cultural Relevance vs. Financial Woes: Twitter’s Crisis and Meta’s opportunity

Author: Steffen Meyer, Mobile Marketing Content Specialist

To understand the unfolding battle between Twitter (now “X”) and Meta’s clone Threads, you need to know that Twitter never really was a mass social media network like Facebook or Instagram. 
It gained its relevance by influential public figures like former US president Donald Trump giving statements and discussing with one another. This discourse often influenced journalists and other multiplicators in their thinking and content creation, granting Twitter cultural relevance – but not so much profit.

Elon Musk’s Ambitious Acquisition

Elon Musk bought the company because of this cultural relevance, describing it as “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”. Publicly he denied that it was about money, but after buying the company he set out to make it all about it.

He fired up to 80 percent of the staff, let go off moderation efforts, allowing false news and hate to spread, all under the banner of him being a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutists” (which by the way doesn’t seem to account for the censorship requests of authoritarian countries or journalists who criticize him). 

Advertisers, in fear of having their brand damaged by this unhealthy discourse, halved their ad budgets for Twitter. Musk’s spending cuts and new forms of income like paying for the blue checkmark don’t fill the deficit.

Enter social media giant Meta.

Meta’s Move: Introducing Twitter Clone Threads

The company behind Facebook and Instagram saw an opportunity and swiftly rushed to launch its Twitter clone Threads, even though it couldn’t reach the European market due to EU regulation.

In an interview with The Verge, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri unveiled the strategy behind Threads: “It would be great if it gets really, really big, but I’m actually more interested in if it becomes culturally relevant.” He adds that “we’ll see how it goes over the next couple of months or probably a couple of years”, hinting at the fact that Meta seems to be in for a prolonged fight.

If this isn’t just marketing talk, Meta isn’t so much interested in making money with the platform but rather gaining influence, as Twitter once had.

With Musk struggling to make profit and transforming the network – renaming it into “X” is just a symptom here -, Meta’s strategy of establishing a “sanely run” Twitter , as Mosseri puts it, could actually pay off.

The Future of Cultural Significance: Whose Crown Will Prevail?

On the other hand, with short videos being the current trend and generative AI making it easier and easier to create complex content, the social media world changed quite a bit in the last couple of years. 

Who’s to say if not another wholly new platform will grab the crown of the culturally most important one, rendering the short text based networks Threads and X a thing of the past, with the Generation Y looking back nostalgically at a time when 140 characters shaped and meant the world.

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