We’ve Tested Threads; Here’s What You Need To Know
July 28, 2023
Written by Diego Hernandez, Social Media Manager
Even a few weeks after its launch, conversation about Threads is still everywhere. What’s it all about? Is Threads the new Twitter? Should brands join? If so, what should brands be doing on Threads? If you’ve asked any of these questions, you’re in the right place. We’ll dive into all things Threads and what it means for marketers right here.
What is Threads? How Do You Get Started?
Built by the Instagram team, the text-focused app operates as a blend of Twitter and Reddit user experiences and was, perhaps unironically, launched early as both previously mentioned platforms face user backlash and boycotts. Regardless, Threads is here and ready to compete for users attention. Threads massive growth (of over 100 million downloads in less than 5 days) easily breaks the record for all-time most rapidly downloaded app (the previous record, ChatGPT, was downloaded one million times in its first five days).
This fast-turn adoption is likely somewhat due to Threads’ connection with Instagram: Instagram users can join Threads in seconds using their current Instagram account. Doing so transfers over usernames, verification status and bio information (though users do have the option to customize their profile for Threads specifically).
In addition to this data transfer — and perhaps even more importantly — users have the option to follow accounts on Threads that they already follow on Instagram; this also applies to all the accounts they follow that join Threads at a later point. As a result, it’s easy for users to find their current community and for existing Instagram accounts to connect with their followers on Threads. This quick-connect has allowed companies and individuals to rapidly grow their Threads followers.
Unlike the adoption hurtle other social media platforms often have, the quick community growth on Threads ensured the platform immediately overcame one of largest barriers to success for new social media platforms. Still, recent headlines tout that spent on the app is decreasing; this is not super surprising. Much of the time spent on the app during the first weeks was likely due to users learning how to use the app and, like us, creating strategic points-of-view on how the app works. Regardless, the rapid adoption and quick content-generation demonstrated since the app’s launch indicate a high likelihood of long-term success for Threads.
How Does Threads Work?
Almost immediately, users began celebrating the nostalgia of navigating a new, simplified social media platform. The lack of ads has particularly created positive sentiment surrounding the app launch (although Meta has already hinted at monetization and branded content opportunities coming to the platform). The simplicity of the app (another feature which likely won’t remain long-term) has also been lauded by users. As of now, the apps capabilities include:
A dual-option home feed (“For You” and “Followers”)
Basic engagement buttons on existing threads (like, comment, repost, share)
Search (username only)
Post creation, which allows up to 500 characters and video/photo/GIF attachments
Profile and bio view
These current capabilities do impact other areas of a brand’s social ecosystem; for example, social listening and content management systems (like Sprout, Sprinklr, etc.) are not yet able to connect to Threads due to its closed API. The lack content search by hashtag or topic also limits any useful social listening of brand-related content. And, until monetization rolls out to the platform, brands will have to rely on organic content to reach users on the platform. As previously mentioned, there are currently no ad or direct message (DM) capabilities on the platform and success on Threads is highly dependent on public-facing, back-and-forth conversation— there is no opportunity for a send-it-and-forget-it strategy here.
What’s This We Hear About Accessibility Issues?
Praise around Threads’ refreshingly simple approach to social media is abundant. Simultaneously, though, the app has come under immediate criticism for its inability to accommodate users with disabilities. Though in its Threads announcement, Meta noted, “The core accessibility features available on Instagram today, such as screen reader support and AI-generated image descriptions, are also enabled on Threads,” the accessibility advocacy community has shared a number of areas in which the app needs attention to better serve them:
Illogical screen-read post information (as seen in the image below which shows the order in which each element received the screen reader curse when navigating through a post in the Threads home feed)
As a result of these missing capabilities, Threads currently fails to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards. If Meta fails to prioritize these updates, the app could lose out on millions of potential app users who live with disabilities.
What Should Brands & Organizations Do?
As with any new social media app, there’s typically a debate on the best course of action for brands and organizations to take. Because of its strong integration with Instagram and heavy backing from Meta, Threads is less of a gamble than many other new-to-the-scene social platforms. But before launching on Threads, the most important question for your brand or organization to ask is going to be, “Why?” Being active on the channel will require content, community management and resourcing just like any other social media platform. Brands and organizations will need to think through a clear plan of action when joining Threads. As a result, there are some clear next-step actions to consider:
Set Up an Account When it comes to new social media platforms, the first recommended action is often to claim a branded username followed by a waiting period to see how the platform develops before allocating resources and establishing a platform strategy. The approach to Threads should be similar: because of the simplicity of signing up, any brand or organization with an Instagram account should consider creating a Threads account sooner than later to both claim their username and take advantage of user’s propensity to follow-all when joining from Instagram.
Use Low-Stakes Content to Test and Learn Unlike other platform launches, because Threads has such a rapid adoption rate, it may be worth exploring an early start to content on the platform. A quick way to experiment on the platform would be to post top-performing evergreen content from other channels (like Twitter, Reddit and/or Facebook). Alternatively, if you have an existing Twitter or Reddit strategy — especially one focused on consumer-facing conversation management — it could be worth transitioning those strategies and content to Threads (which is currently the least controversial of these three apps).
Follow Other Active Accounts Regardless of interest in proactively sharing content on Threads, brands and organizations can start to get a feel for the app by following other accounts that are already active to see what performs well. It bears repeating that content exploration can be very difficult on the current version of the app, so it may be worth using a personal or burner account to track competitors (although switching between accounts can also be a challenge, so keep that in mind).
Establish A Strong Brand Voice
Another exercise important to prepare for a brand launch to Threads is to establish a clear voice for the platform. As a conversation-based social network, it is important for brands to have a strong, dynamic consumer-forward presence on Threads. Like Twitter and TikTok, Threads also seems to be a more casual platform for brands and organizations, where back-and-forth direct interaction is expected—and fun is a priority.
Allocate Resources for Content and Community Management In order to succeed on the platform, it will be imperative to establish a content and community management strategy — and allocate resources accordingly. Because so much of Threads activity occurs via back-and-forth threaded conversations in the public comments (especially as, again, there is currently no direct messaging option).
If you are curious about Threads and want a custom strategy or recommendation to bring your brand or organization onto the platform, reach out! Our team of social media experts are ready and waiting to help your brand Thread your way to success.