Threads – one week on
Last week, Meta dropped Threads on us, pitched as ‘a place where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today, to what’ll be trending tomorrow’. The confirmation that they were releasing a ‘text based’ platform had come earlier this year (rumours of ‘Project 92’ had been around for a while), but the release date was only announced a few days before.
Even so, this did not stop both a rush to sign up (more on that later) and mass media coverage of this new platform (each of these influencing the other: the more people wrote about it, the more we signed up; the more we signed up, the more people wrote about it!).
But one week on, what do we know about Threads?
How popular is Threads?
In terms of sign-ups – extremely popular. 100m sign ups in just 5 days is testament to that, making it the fastest-growing consumer application (replacing ChatGPT, which took two months to achieve that many downloads which in itself was phenomenal).
There are many reasons for this success including:
1. Ease of sign up. If you already have an Instagram account, once you have downloaded the Threads app, you can simply log in using your Instagram details, copy across your link bio and image, and follow people you are already following on Instagram (if you want to).
2. Dislike for Twitter. It’s no surprise that Twitter are reportedly suing Meta about Threads. It is not a carbon copy, but there are, shall we say, similarities. Whether it is due to a lack of innovation, the trolls / negativity or Musk’s ownership, Twitter has been losing followers for a while – but at its peak, it was an extremely popular, and useful, platform. Many of those signing up would, like me, have been avid Twitter users in the past – so can Threads replicate that initial success? Or have we moved on too much – with Twitter’s appeal based very much on our needs at that specific time.
3. Hype. Once the initial signs ups were reported in the media, there was an inevitable level of FOMO. If your friends, peers, or influencers and celebs you follow were on it, then surely you needed be too. Even if was just to see what the fuss was all about.
So, is Threads actually text-based?
Like Twitter before, the basis for Threads is on text – but with 500 characters rather than 280 allowing for more comment and conversation. But, again like Twitter, the functionality to include both imagery (up to ten images) and video (up to five minutes in length, twice that of Twitter) is included – so there is a chance you may see the same content you are already seeing elsewhere, but perhaps not as well presented.
Meta clearly recognises that we do not live in a text-only world. TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and yes Meta itself, have all changed that for us. Which begs the question: what will Threads offer in the long term that other platforms do not?
Is Threads a finished product?
No. Most apps, including the main social media platforms, are constantly being updated to introduce new features, which often roll out to some users before others, or are carried out in closed beta testing. But most platforms of Threads size would launch in a format that closely resembles what it will look like until the first major update (with the exception of bug changes etc). With Threads though, there is a real sense that the tests are being carried out live – with all of us that have signed up being the willing test subjects. Meta clearly wants to see how we use Threads, before deciding on some of its features – an interesting approach, but one that may mean we get the platform we want, and not one that they want to give us (or am I being too optimistic here?).
What are Threads likely to introduce in the future?
More formal testing is taking place via android – and this gives us a taste for what we might expect from Threads in the future.
Some of the features that have been mentioned include things that people have either been demanding on other platforms like:
· An edit button. Yes, Twitter finally introduced one but only for paid verified users
· A chronological timeline for people you’re following. Something that Instagram itself took away from us in the past then reintroduced - if you know where to look for it. For now, the algorithm will show you both posts from people you follow and recommended content.
Other upcoming features include being able to search for posts, something that is not yet available. Given how Gen-Z use platforms like TikTok to search for news and products, then this is a glaring omission – likely it simply was not ready when they pressed the launch button.
Hashtags and trends lists have also been discussed, as well as messaging – but are not a priority at this stage.
Can you advertise on Threads?
Not yet. But Meta will need to make money from it eventually so expect to see some form of advertising. Whether this will be an extension of its current ads platform, offering Threads placements within Ads Manager, or something more bespoke we will have to wait and see – I do not think we will be waiting long though.
So, do I need a Threads strategy for my brand?
At this stage, no. Threads is still in its infancy, and the jury is out on its long-term success and functionality. So, there is an element of watch and learn. If you have the resources to test then great, but don’t let it detract from successful strategies elsewhere.
Often the biggest failure in social media implementation is spreading yourself across too many platforms. Threads is pitched as a ‘community’ – if you are going to be active there then you will need the time to foster that community – as well of course as the right content. Things move very quickly though – as the launch itself shows – so include it in conversations about where you may need to go next.
The initial success means it’s unlikely to go away – unlike this photo based version from Facebook In 2019. Remember it? No, didn’t think so.
Is it easy to leave Threads?
The lyrics to Hotel California by the Eagles go you can check in, but you can never leave. Threads feels a bit like that at the moment. Not because it is difficult to draw yourself away from using it, but because currently Meta have you locked in once you sign up. Why? Because, by linking Threads to Instagram, currently you have to delete your Instagram account to delete Threads. Funnily enough they do not make this clear at the sign-up process, although you can temporarily deactivate your account.
Expect this to change – Meta cannot keep us all hostage….can they??