Meta's Threads is the New Twitter, Rand Fishkin Confirms | Podcast 38

Meta's Threads is the New Twitter, Rand Fishkin Confirms | Podcast 38
Interview by Nikola Djuric
Published: March 15, 2024

When is the time to follow marketing trends versus doing what has worked over the past five years?

In the 38th episode of the DesignRush Podcast, our editor Vianca Meyer discusses this topic with Rand Fishkin, a marketing genius who founded Moz – a widely used SEO software.

Tune in to the episode to learn how to choose your marketing channels effectively and much more:

  • How you can use ChatGPT to enhance your work
  • Which social media platform replaced Twitter’s role in marketing
  • When’s the time to turn to a DIY marketing approach

Who Is Rand Fishkin?

As the co-founder of SparkToro, Rand made audience research accessible and efficient for a diverse range of business professionals. His journey in tech skyrocketed after founding Moz, where he innovated in SEO, later transitioning roles to focus deeply on marketing and product development.

Speaking to Vianca, Rand argues that sticking with what works when it comes to your marketing strategy should be the go-to plan for most businesses.

"The good reasons to change your marketing are if you have seen drops in conversion rate around whatever success metrics you've got, or you are trying to reach a new audience that you haven't reached before," Rand explains.

"The other example would be if it's been a few years since you've refreshed your website and there's probably some opportunity for you to update your visual style, branding, and how you talk about your product."

When Is the Right Time to Jump on a Hype Train?

"Between 2008 and 2010, there was a major shift to mobile devices as a primary use case for everything that people do on the web. Almost every website had to build a mobile-friendly version of their site," Rand notes.

"That was a trend where it made a lot of sense because user behavior across the world was transforming."

However, he cautions against blindly following buzzwords without practical applications, like the misguided rush toward mobile apps by companies that would have fared better with mobile-optimized websites.

Rand's skepticism extends to the current fervor around generative AI.

AI's utility in specific contexts, such as analyzing large datasets for product intelligence, is welcoming. However, business professionals shouldn't overestimate the capabilities of ChatGPT in formulating a strategy or a business plan.

"What users are getting in ChatGPT isn't an intelligent go-to-market plan, but the words that are most likely to come after other words on the internet."

"Topic classification and programming are a wonderful use case. However, asking it for advice on consultative types of questions is a terrible idea."

Learn Why You Mustn't Use GenAI to Represent Your Brand

Choosing Marketing Channels Shouldn't Be Trend-Chasing

Rand offers a nuanced perspective on selecting marketing channels, emphasizing the importance of a custom-made strategy over trend-chasing.

"There shouldn't be two companies in the world for whom the exact mix of channels, tactics, and strategies is the same. That's fundamentally the way to get mediocre marketing," he warns.

Discussing the potential of new social media platforms, Rand highlights Meta's Threads, observing its rapid adoption by the community previously active on Twitter.

"SparkToro monitors a tremendous amount of tweets. We are looking at hundreds of millions of accounts and all the things that they post every month," he explains.

"In the months following November 2022 when Elon Musk bought Twitter, we saw that Twitter's activity dropped and the platform became a very different kind of space."

He sees major engagement on Threads despite having a smaller follower count compared to Twitter.

I have about 4,500 followers on Threads and 450,000 on Twitter – one-hundredth of my Twitter followers are on Threads. However, I get two to five times as much engagement on Threads versus Twitter."

Rand also acknowledges the role of LinkedIn, Reddit, and YouTube, especially if you produce native content.

"If you can create interesting content that feeds into relevant conversations, what's going on in the news and what's trending, that's the right way to go."

"Memetic and humorous content does extremely well on Threads, for example"

"Don't just post, but reply, amplify, and quote people that show a high level of engagement. This means you aren't merely a broadcaster, so you will earn an audience with much more success."

This works especially well if you're an SMB or a SaaS business.

DIY Marketing Is a Slippery Terrain for Businesses

Vianca's discussion with Rand then focused on his insights about why a one-size-fits-all approach to DIY marketing isn't adequate.

We know that Kanye West raked in over 150% in ROI with his Yeezy ad, making 19.3 million in sales with a DIY marketing strategy.

This ad did very well if you ask the media – Rand says this might not be the case:

"It had success because it stood out from the rest of the crowd and it's a very famous person reaching a huge audience with a message that resonates with enough of them to get a return on investment."

"My understanding of margins on shoes is usually 10-20%. Fingers crossed, maybe he made $4 million in net profit after spending $7 million on the ad."

"Maybe he got a special deal on the ad or the margins on his shoes, but maybe he didn't and we're looking at a poor case study."

Rand seems very skeptical about trend-following without an in-depth analysis, especially when those trends are set by high-profile B2C campaigns that don't necessarily translate to B2B.

"Because of popularity and media bias, we tend to look at the success of Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift."

Marketers Shouldn't Be Biased by High-Profile Campaigns

"They're super misleading," he concludes.

Addressing the potential for smaller businesses to make an impact with DIY ads, our podcast guest suggests that authenticity and deep engagement with their audience should drive success.

Rand says he has great experience with native short-form videos on LinkedIn, emphasizing the importance of leveraging personal strengths and existing audience.

"I've had a ton of success with short LinkedIn videos. Every week or two, I film a video which takes me an hour or two to design. I fill one side of my screen with my face, and then on the other I've got the feature I'm showing in SparkToro."

"I'm like: Here's how you can use SparkToro to do audience research on these types of websites, and here's the value that you get from it. Look at this cool thing that you can do – here's how you export it."

"I'll walk people through those things and put those videos on LinkedIn. They tend to be 90-120 seconds long, and I've seen up to hundreds of thousands of engagements on these videos."

To listen to the remainder of the conversation, check out the full episode on Spotify:

Subscribe to Spotlight Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest industry news