Why you need to start thinking about Threads

This week marked the arrival of Threads, the anticipated social media platform hailed as Instagram's "Twitter Killer."

Branding, Digital, Brand Marketing, Creative, Facebook

Glenn Langridge 7 Jul 2023
6 mins

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg’s battle of the billionaires has taken a dramatic turn with the unveiling of what is likely to become the next big social media platform, Threads.

In case you somehow missed the launch that promises to shake up social media, Threads is a new platform that has been created by Instagram, which is owned by Mr Zuckerberg’s Meta.

This is an important distinction because Meta has deliberately decided not to launch the app as an independent platform, but rather it runs through Instagram.

The ease for users to sign up and have an already curated news feed on Threads has been a key attractor, with Mr Zuckerberg celebrating more than 30 million people signing up for the service within hours of its launch.

Threads’ integration with Instagram creates a unified technology stack between the two platforms and Meta’s Facebook, which comes with benefits and drawbacks, as well as established audiences and interactions.

But first a little bit about Threads.

Think of Threads like Twitter, I mean literally like Twitter. It’s almost identical, as you can post a stream of consciousness to the world. You can share your thoughts with images, you can add links and you can interact with others on the platform.

Mr Musk infamously took over Twitter last year and the once wildly popular app has had an interesting existence under its new management.

Verifications were scrapped in favour of Twitter Blue, with anyone willing to pay $US8/month able to obtain the blue tick that was once a signifier of genuine status and authenticity.

Advertisers voted with their feet, with more than half of those that used Twitter as a marketing platform deciding to spend their advertising budgets elsewhere within months of Mr Musk’s acquisition amid a slew of big brand impersonations.

One of the most strategically important things about the launch of Threads, and what could give it the edge as a genuine rival to Twitter, is its integration with Instagram.

The process of setting up an account is strikingly simple. Download it from the Apple Store or Google’s Play Store, click sync with Instagram and it brings across your bio, your profile photo and the people that you follow, even if they haven’t yet joined Threads.

The impact of this is going to be growth in both platforms and here’s why – there is a clear delineation between what Instagram does really well and what Threads will do really well.

Instagram is visual, it always has been, and it looks like it always will be. Meta deliberately made it difficult to share links on Instagram so that it doesn’t become a platform of constant self-promotion, but rather a platform of immersive experience.

Threads, on the other hand, has the best of both worlds, much like Twitter used to.

What I expect to see from this is growth in Instagram users, as people rally to set up an account or to optimise their account in a more effective way to leverage the benefits of Threads.

Secondly, whenever there is a platform and an audience, advertising is not far behind. There is currently no clear way to advertise on Threads, but it stands to reason that it will only be a matter of time before it gets integrated into the wider Meta advertising platform.

While advertisers have been able to run ads across Facebook and Instagram simultaneously through the one platform, they will soon have another outlet in Threads.

What this means for companies and advertisers alike is that early adoption is going to be key.

When Facebook was launched, early adopters were able to grow their platforms organically.

Facebook’s algorithms favoured organic growth, so these first movers were able to really thrive when paid advertising came in.

One big question going around now is ‘what is the verb for when you engage with Threads’?

On Twitter you can tweet and retweet. On Threads do you sew, knit or stitch? Have they deliberately not identified this to keep the platform free for you to engage in whatever way you want in an equal way?

There has always been a natural prominence given to more interactive engagements such as replies and retweets versus liking a tweet.

Has Meta learned from its like and dislike button that putting such metrics discourages people from engaging with such a platform and kept it deliberately uniformed? I’d suspect so.

The launch of Threads has also escalated the emerging battle between Mr Zuckerberg and Mr Musk.

While a proposed cage fight between the two billionaires is increasingly heading down the ‘will they or won’t they’ path, Threads provides the potential for a digital throwdown.

Twitter is already making moves to ensure it remains the top dog in the social media space.

Originally reported by Semafor, Twitter lawyers have contacted Meta and Mr Zuckerberg, accusing the company of poaching employees and “stealing trade secrets”.

Mr Musk says Twitter will look to immediately take action to “strictly enforce its intellectual property rights”.

Meta’s communications director says the accusations are baseless, and that there are no engineers on the Threads team that previously worked at Twitter.

It will be interesting to see how the rivalry develops – is this just a scare tactic from Twitter and do they have a leg to stand on if brought in front of a judge?

So, what’s my advice for strategy?

Like any innovation, you need to get your hands on it, and you need to have a play. Let’s use ChatGPT as an example, understanding the platform is the first step in making an informed decision on whether it fits into your company strategy. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

I recommend setting up a personal account and having a bit of a play around to get a feel for the platform. There is also nothing stopping you from setting up a company account just so you’ve captured it, remembering if your business has an Instagram account, it will take two seconds to create a Threads account.

Let’s say you’ve made the decision that Threads is an active platform for your organisation.

What do you do then? One thing not to do is go straight into self-promotion and try to be too cute with your first post. I suggest the best entry point is a combination of a stream of consciousness, education and a thought sharing approach.

Start by sharing some quick insights, some fun facts or some under the hood information about your organisation. Ideally those first few posts should be something that people will find interesting and they will mentally engage with, whether or not they comment, share or like the post.

The platform has been live for 48 hours. I’m not going to pretend to know everything about it and I’m not going to pretend to know how this is going to fit into the everyday strategy.

What I do know, however, is that it’s exciting and it has people talking. But at this early stage there are more questions than there are answers.

My challenge to you is to think about the first time you became aware of ChatGPT. Were you all in and wanted to give it a go? Or did you say this is really scary and I don’t think this will last? Did you say not another platform?

Now think about how you reacted to ChatGPT, and now think about how you want to react to Threads. Jump in, have fun, and learn the new platform, it’s not every day we get a revolutionary platform drop from one of the largest and most successful companies of the digital age.

Before jumping in, here are some frequently asked questions you may be asking

What happens if I hate Threads and want to leave?

Once you create a Threads account, it is tied to your Instagram account, and deleting one will delete the other. However, you can “Deactivate” your account, which is a temporary action that will hide your account and data until you reactivate your account by logging back in to the app.

How do I find significant thought leaders/politicians/journalists on Threads?

Unlike the rival, Twitter, Threads at its core is an extension of Instagram, which many use as a personal platform already and may not follow these types of people on Instagram as they would on Twitter. On one hand, if you do follow these people on Instagram your follower data will merge across once you create your account.

If not, you will need to simply search for the accounts and users you wish to follow and start from the ground up. Many will likely be sharing their new profiles across other platforms while the app is still new.

Is my content private?

By default, profiles are public and can be viewed by anyone (unless the owner is under the age of 16) but can be changed in the privacy setting on your account.

Can I monitor what is being said online?

It is too early for third party tracking apps to track content across Threads but likely will change in the near future. Manual tracking for campaigns and trends through the use of hashtags is also not available as the platform does not have any form of hashtags.

Glenn Langridge More from author

Glenn is Cannings Purple’s Director of Digital, bringing together a wealth of digital-agency and leadership experience to deliver unique digital solutions for his clients, and empower his expert team to success.

Glenn has a proven track record of building award-winning digital campaigns, bridging the gap between marketing strategy and technical digital delivery for leading organisations across Australia, Singapore, London and the U.S.

His areas of expertise include digital strategy, website strategy, paid advertising and creative campaign planning, while always maintaining a results-driven focus across both strategy and execution for his clients.

Glenn is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, an accredited Agile project management coach and holds a double degree in Commerce and Arts from The University of Western Australia. Glenn applies this knowledge and experience to build sustainable and well-informed strategies beyond technical considerations, while educating and innovating his clients along the way.

Glenn’s organised, considered and creative approach to digital project management has seen the successful delivery of more than 60 website projects, alongside the management of momentous campaigns for Notre Dame, Baker Tilly International, INX Software and Royal Flying.

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