Just when we thought there were enough social media platforms (or maybe it’s just me), Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg rolled out “Threads,” a new text-based app that was likely intended to give the very similar Twitter (now known as “X”) and its CEO, Elon Musk, a run for their money. A spinoff from social media giant Instagram, Threads has taken the same Instagram fan base that is accustomed to sharing videos and photos, giving them a platform to have more authentic conversations. But is it time just yet for your company to add Threads to your overall social media strategy? In this edition of Plain Talk, we’ll break down what to expect with Threads, what’s on the horizon with advertising, and whether it really is the missing thread you’re looking for to help your brand stand out.
Thread 1 – Hi, I’m new here.
On July 5, 2023, Meta launched Threads to the Instagram fan base, quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing apps ever. With more than 100 million sign-ups in just five days alone, Threads took the world by surprise and had a lot of top B2C brands quickly jumping in to engage fans in a new(ish) way. These companies, many of which already had a strong presence on Instagram, didn’t have to start from scratch on followers. Instagram made the process easy to carry these same followers over from the very start. All the brands had to do was be conversational and clever – no photos or videos needed.
Mark Zuckerberg explained in a Reel that “[Threads] takes the best parts of the Instagram experience and creates a whole new app around text, ideas, and sharing what’s on your mind.” It sounds similar to Twitter, right? We thought so too. And Elon Musk didn’t take the news quietly. A little more than two weeks after the Threads rollout, Musk traded in his infamous blue bird for a simple black X, which once again had people talking. While this text-based war continues, there are a few differences between the old and new platforms worth noting.
Thread 2 – Get to know me.
While Threads seemed like a new concept for some people – particularly Instagram users not on Twitter (aka X), for those of us who have been part of the Twitter community from the start, it felt more like the early days of Twitter again when the new platform launched, minus a few key differences. Let’s break down the differences so far:
- Post length: X allows 280 characters, while Instagram’s Threads app allows 500 characters.
- Video length: Threads allows five-minute videos, while X’s max video length is two minutes and 20 seconds.
- There is not a “trending” section on Threads (yet).
- Threads does not allow users to direct message (DM) — as X does.
- Threads doesn’t allow users to search for hashtags or topics like X does. Users can only use the search tool to look up current usernames.
The most significant difference to note, however, is advertising. While Threads hasn’t yet announced this opportunity for brands, you can bet all companies are watching closely. Many top advertisers like General Motors, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Ford paused advertising on X in the past year or left it altogether following Elon Musk’s takeover. For them, Threads could be the missing puzzle piece they’ve been looking for, allowing them to still offer a creative text-based platform for campaigns but under the more reputable Meta platform.
We all know it’s a matter of time before we see “sponsored” pop up on Threads posts. Meta is already working on new features for the app, which we should all anticipate will include advertising. Current X advertisers are likely watching closely as they determine their future brand strategy and whether a move to Threads is on the horizon. With another text-based option now on the table, will they remain with what they’ve always known or switch to advertising on this new platform? While we’ll likely start seeing advertisers completely jump ship from X once this advertising begins, we can also predict there will be others watching from afar as they determine if a new platform is worth the time, especially as numbers are already slowing. The time people spent on Threads was reported during Week 2 to be a third of what it was the first week it launched, according to Similarweb, so it seems the novelty is wearing off for some followers and brands.
Thread 3 – Am I a fit for your brand strategy?
While a new social media platform can be exciting, just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s a fit for your brand. While many brands were quick to jump on the Threads bandwagon and cemented themselves as industry leaders on the platform, many others are still weighing the pros and cons.
- If you have a strong Instagram brand, you will likely have many of those same followers jump on board to follow you on Threads. This also allows you to reach a younger audience through text-based conversations.
- There’s still an opportunity to have your content seen by people who don’t follow you (even without the expected advertising that should be on the horizon). The Threads algorithm, like most other platforms, will recommend posts from random accounts. (While this is still great for your brand, personally, I hope this doesn’t overtake our feeds like other platforms).
- With Threads comes a new platform for social media influencers. While some of the same Instagram influencers will continue to do well on Threads, there should also be new voices shining through, giving your platform a new list of “influencers” specific to this platform. No longer will the influencing be based solely on photos and videos. Now, the focus is on connection, humor, conversations, and more, which means there’s a good chance you’ll find new influencers in this space for your brand.
- Think of Threads as your own focus group. Want to have brand discussions and gather insights as you build credibility and trust? Threads could be the platform for you.
- No advertising just yet. However, that is likely to change very soon. Threads is expected to launch a branded ad tool to help reach specific users based on demographics.
- You cannot delete your Threads app without deleting your Instagram profile. Instagram said it is looking into this feature in the future. However, if you want to delete your Threads account in the meantime, you can delete each Thread individually and change all your settings to “private.” By doing this, no one will be able to search for your profile. This is frustrating and one reason some brands (even some clients we’ve spoken with) have decided to push pause on starting a Threads page just yet.
- More community management. With more conversations happening, you need more eyes on this platform, and for some brands or companies that just don’t have the manpower, adding a new social media platform could be more of a headache than it’s worth. If you are going to join Threads, you’ll want to do it right. Ensure you have the staffing it takes to truly get your page off the ground before diving in.
- No analytics – yet. While the platform collects the same overall data as Meta (location, browsing history, email address, phone number), it isn’t yet connected to social media scheduling systems that make it easy to schedule your posts on Threads, meaning the analytics aren’t there just yet. We have talked with social media platforms like Sprout Social that say they expect to get Threads added to their system sooner than later, but for now, those analytics are missing.
- User base differences. Let’s face it. The typical Twitter (we’re still getting used to X) profile is not a mirror image of a typical Instagram profile, and Meta has placed a lot of emphasis on converting Instagram users to Threads users. For advertisers, that lack of analytics we noted above will need to be corrected to show that the users on Threads are as active as they were or are on X.
Thread 4 – What next?
While several new text-based social media platforms have hit the market, including Hive, Mastodon, and a beta-tested Bluesky, Threads already has a leg up since it’s part of the Meta family. But do we actually need ANOTHER social media platform? While some have come and gone, we expect Threads to stick around, just not with the initial momentum it received after launch. While the platform saw 100 million followers in less than a week, there are just over 122 million (and counting) a month later. With X having more than 450 million active users, Threads would need significant momentum to catch up. Can they do it? It will be interesting to watch and see. Without advertising options, we predict that organically doing so will be hard.
Ready to start Threading?
If you’ve gone through the pros and cons and decided Threads is a fit for your brand, we’d love to chat! If your organization is seeking assistance with its social media strategy, send us a message or give us a call at 502.499.4209. Better yet – send us a Thread. We’re ready to assist!