Since its headline-making launch nearly a month and a half ago, Meta’s “Threads” has struggled to catch on. Touted as a new app “for sharing text updates and joining public conversations,” most recognized it early as a direct competitor of X, formerly known as Twitter. It enjoyed immediate popularity upon its debut with more than 100 million user sign-ups in its first week, but data indicates its usage has since dropped by an estimated 80 percent.
Meanwhile, Thread’s competitor, X, is experiencing its own period of unease. In what shocked many users late July, X’s CEO, Elon Musk, announced that Twitter (as it was then known) would be rebranded to X. Unsurprisingly, news of the name change was met with a variety of responses. Whether or not users agreed with the move, though, one fact remains certain—the platform has been underperforming. Still, X, according to Musk, boasts 200+ million monthly active users, which means the platform remains entirely relevant.
The future of Threads is far less certain than that of its competitor. However, given that Threads captured the attention of hundreds of millions of social media users in such a short time after its launch, marketers should understand the capabilities, function and potential Meta’s latest feature offers.
HOW IT WORKS:
Threads and Instagram are closely integrated, with users on both platforms receiving a clickable, temporary badge on their Instagram profile showing they are present on the new platform and driving to their account. When joining Threads, users are also given the option to follow the same accounts they currently follow on Instagram. Unlike Instagram, however, Threads does not automatically or require images to be cropped to a specific size. Published links without images will include clickable preview thumbnails.
Based on trends seen across the platform to date, content is mirroring the style and tone of X. Many users are embracing it for in-the-moment sharing, stream-of-conscious posting, and real-time reporting/status updates.
While Threads has already begun to capture the online zeitgeist, limitations of the platform and concerns about data collection and privacy have emerged as well.
Ad-free (for now): At launch, Threads does not allow for any advertisements or monetization. While this provides a clean user experience, it raises questions about how Meta plans to monetize the platform and whether ads will be introduced in the future.
Unavailability in the EU and availability challenges in Canada: Threads has not yet launched in the European Union (EU) due to non-compliance with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and privacy regulations. The app’s infringement of data regulations stems from its practice of combining users’ personal data across multiple platforms, which goes against the EU’s strict privacy standards. Meta’s failure to meet the EU’s requirements regarding data sharing and privacy was the primary factor leading to the app’s disapproval. However, Threads was still released in the United Kingdom, which operates under distinct regulatory frameworks as a non-EU country. In compliance with Canada’s Online News Act, Meta released a recent statement noting, “News links and content posted by news publishers and broadcasters in Canada will no longer be viewable by people in Canada.” While the legislation only impacts Meta’s Facebook and Instagram right now, it is likely that Threads will eventually be impacted.
Deactivating or deleting accounts: Users who want to delete their Threads profile may face the inconvenience of having to delete their entire Instagram account since Threads is tied to Instagram. To avoid this, users must go to settings and choose to deactivate their Threads account instead. Instagram head Adam Mosseri has clarified that a deletion feature may be included in future upgrades.
As it continues to benefit from updates and expanded capabilities, Threads may rebound and grow. Consequently, brands and thought leaders should be strategic and take steps to get their foot in the door as the platform continues to evolve.
Register your presence early. Reserving your brand’s place on the app while it remains in the news may help maximize organic follower growth. In the wake of the fake handle scandals on X in 2022, it may also help offset any potential confusion over fake accounts that appear over time.
Consider your audience and business objectives. As Threads’ content, reach and influence evolves, continue to evaluate how it fits into your existing content and channel strategies and how it can potentially help benefit, elevate or augment them.
Monitor the industry landscape. Check regularly for competitor or peer activity as well as activity among your target audiences. As topic-specific search rolls out, understanding the traits of your desired audience (age, occupation) and key voices in the space will be crucial to determine if they’re engaging on the platform, and with whom they’re engaging. Historically, many social listening platforms have relied on X data for trend spotting, media monitoring and conversation analysis. If Threads proves to successfully compete with X, then brands may need to rethink how they assess and understand social conversations and trending coverage. In the meantime, brands should consider repurposing their X content to Threads to maintain a presence on the platform.
Create a plan for community management and engagement. With direct messaging (DMs) unavailable on the app and replies publicly visible, establish a plan for how to integrate responsive and direct community management into existing frameworks.
Be vigilant and agile. As new features and functions roll out, be ready to adjust strategies to optimize performance or mitigate and reduce risks.