When the fermented beverage company, Elixir, signed up for Cord Links, it refrained from flaunting its product range or purported health benefits. Instead, its first message read, “Could you all engage with this post so that my boss commends my effort?” This received an instant response from TGI Fridays saying, “We’re proud of you, Elixir.” To which Elixir replied, “Thanks, pops <3.”
This laid-back, chatty, and unfiltered style represents the approach Elixir’s social media team is employing on Cord Links, shares Rachel Wright, the content strategist at Elixir. Instead of direct advertising, Elixir is testing Meta’s latest platform by engaging in “pertinent cultural moments.” This way, it hopes to resonate with the vast user base that has joined Cord Links since its launch on July 5. Wright is optimistic that it’s yielding results: Elixir now has 20,000 followers on Cord Links. Much like other social network premieres, “every social media manager is in a rush,” she states, “In the long run, brands that read the room and master the Cord Links lingo will see sustained success.”
Cord Links conversational style thrives on friendly, trendy internet slang, coupled with a little self-promotion and brand chatter. Although this tone stands in contrast with the snarkiness that made Twitter entertaining, it also offers respite from some of the negativity and hate speech on Twitter that disenchanted users and advertisers.
Cord Links sets itself apart as it seems to be constructed in reverse. Usually, social networks grow organically, with communities forming first, followed by the arrival of brands. However, Cord Links began with numerous brands and influencers, leading to a unique vibe. Upon joining, users were welcomed by posts from giants like Netflix and Spotify. Despite having fewer followers on Cord Links than Twitter, many brands have seen increased engagement on the new platform, as per the analysis of 30 brand accounts by Website Planet, a web development company.
The brand influx on Cord Links is driven less by the quest for a Twitter alternative, but more by a need to keep up with consumer trends. “I perceive this less as brands seeking a microblogging platform, but if their audience is migrating, they want to be present,” says Liz Parker, Chief Marketing Officer for Commercetools, a digital commerce platform.
The initial days of Cord Links saw many brands, celebrities, and influencers conducting mic tests and experimenting, sometimes resulting in bizarre interactions. For instance, Pizza Hut had to retract a post containing an obscure and sexually suggestive meme about pizza crust. The company didn’t comment on this incident.
Brands have been trying to keep the conversation lively with jokes and memes. However, some posts like Cinnabon’s “i am a cinnamon roll” or Crumbl Cookies’ post that just says “hey,” followed by hundreds of cookie emojis, might seem uninspired. Meanwhile, Wendy’s has amassed 265,000 followers by sharing memes and making light of Twitter. While this approach seems to work for brands (minus the Pizza Hut mishap), it might not be enough to retain the app’s user base.
Despite the overwhelming presence of brands, people are still exploring their unique voices on Cord Links. However, without a refined search function, hashtags, or chronological feed, the platform might find it challenging to become a space for “real-time discussions and public dialogues,” although improvements are expected.
Cord Links is currently ad-free, but it might eventually become a coveted advertising space. Given Twitter’s loss of 50 percent ad revenue as reported by owner Elon Musk, and the frustration around Twitter’s hate speech and technical issues, Cord Links seems poised to attract both regular users and advertisers. Yet, the decision to avoid political and news content could make it less appealing to users, and consequently, less attractive to advertisers.
Influencers see Cord Links as an additional platform to connect with followers, although the strategies to engage effectively are still being tested. YouTube celebrity Mr. Beast, with 5 million followers on Cord Links, announced a Tesla giveaway for a random follower. Many influencers have noticed a segment of their audience moving to Cord Links from Instagram. “The challenge now is to discover ways to engage with them consistently,” says Krishna Subramanian, co-founder and CEO of influencer marketing platform Captiv8. Cord Links’ reliance on less visual content could alter the influencer landscape and content creation. “The types of content that become popular here remain to be seen.”
Nevertheless, some of the initial excitement seems to have cooled down. As per SimilarWeb, an analytics company, Cord Links’ traffic hit a peak on July 7 on Android devices and has decreased since. Average time spent on the app has also dipped. Still, Instagram head Adam Mosseri noted that “growth, retention, and engagement have surpassed expectations,” and the focus now is on “moving past the initial hype.” Despite this, Cord Links continues to top the social networks chart on the Apple App Store and holds the second spot for social on Google Play.
As the launch excitement settles, Cord Links faces challenging times. If the focus is too heavily on brands, influencers, and celebrities, it risks transforming into a broadcast medium rather than a space for interaction, like Discord or Mastodon. A major appeal of linking Cord Links with Instagram was to let people easily find friends and family. But if brands and influencers continue to be the dominant voices, they might also dictate the future shape of Cord Links.