2023 is looking like the year of the microblog. Whether by adapting to changes at Twitter or experimenting with any number of alternatives in the intervening months, brands are keeping a close eye on the space. Just recently, Meta surprised the world with an entirely new entrant, Threads, which surpassed 100 million users in less than five days.
What’s special about the platform that netted Jennifer Lopez, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and Shakira as early adopters, and where does it fit in your brand’s strategy? You’ve probably got a lot of questions about Threads, and we’ve got answers.
Threads’ integration with Instagram is a smart strategy that seamlessly leverages Instagram’s userbase.
How has Threads grown so quickly, and does it have staying power?
Much of Threads’ success is thanks to its close integration with Instagram; users simply carry over their existing usernames onto the new app, where a ready-made account awaits them. This seamless transition from one network to the next eliminates some of the complicated barriers of entry that are present on other microblogging platforms. Bluesky and Mastodon, for example, require users to sign up to one of many servers, and while each server is interoperable, following users on a different one can be difficult for a novice to wrap their head around. Threads has no such hurdles, simply requiring an Instagram handle to start.
Privacy concerns may delay an EU launch, but Meta is putting transparency and user choice at the forefront.
What do I need to know about privacy?
Threads currently faces scrutiny due to privacy concerns, as mandatory iOS disclosures reveal the app collects highly sensitive user information, including health and financial data, in addition to all the typical things to expect. This may turn some users off, but more notably, it puts the app’s future in the EU into question.
EU data protection regulations require explicit consent for processing sensitive information like health data. Adding to that, Meta has listed Threads as a “gatekeeper” under the Digital Markets Act, a law that prohibits gatekeepers from combining users’ personal data across different platforms. Threads currently isn’t available in the EU as Meta determines how data sharing with Instagram will comply with local regulations.
The good news: Threads is transparent about the data it collects and requires explicit consent to gather it, which is a step in the right direction for companies who prioritize transparency and user choice.
In its infancy, Threads still has some catching up to do with its social media peers.
Are there limitations for users? What about for advertisers?
After signing up for Threads, users quickly took notice of missing features found on similar platforms. There is no “discovery” page, hashtags, trending topics or search function, limiting discovery on the platform. This means brands will do best by focusing on organic strategies that drive brand love by being fun and entertaining, rather than just selling. It’s also worth noting that Threads lacks an API, meaning community managers will need to manually manage and administer content on the channel.
Still, we can expect that Threads will eventually become an additional option in Meta’s ad manager, following a similar strategy used with WhatsApp and emerging Instagram features, like extending the reach of content on the Explore page.
Engaging with any new platform starts with answering the question, ‘What type of community do I want to build?'
How do I build a strategy around Threads or decide if it’s right for my brand?
Before migrating to any platform, consider if it aligns with your needs and values. Think about your goals as a brand and the type of community you want to engage with. I always recommend that brands secure their official handles on any platform, but actively participating on those channels requires a clear understanding of their functionality and their data-sharing practices. That said, diversifying your presence across many platforms is a smart move, and Threads offers yet another place to cultivate community.
An interesting strategic consideration about Threads is how the platform brings the decentralization trend into the mainstream. Meta has plans to soon make Threads interoperable with Mastodon through W3C’s open social networking protocol, ActivityPub. This strategic move aligns with Meta’s recognition that the future of social networks will be decentralized—even if that means relinquishing some control—while also making it easier for brands to join and find their friends on such networks.
Before you make your first post on Threads, get a vibe for the community and what it stands for.
I’m in—so how do I show up?
Before you get started on Threads, understand that this is a platform that is focused on healthy conversation. Many brands have had success on Twitter by talking smack and starting tongue-in-cheek Twitter beefs, but that’s not the kind of climate that Meta is trying to cultivate on Threads. Focus on fun and positivity—and while the platform may be mostly text-focused, consider incorporating eye-catching photos, videos, and graphics that complement your message to stand out from the crowd.
Feeling the pressure of your first Threads post? Here are three ideas to get you started:
- Step onto the scene. Ask your followers to give you the scoop on what’s been going down while you were away.
- Unveil your essence. Share more about yourself or your brand—and inspire others to do the same.
- Make a gentle nudge. Share a mesmerizing tale relevant to your specialized domain.
Then what? “Once you’ve made some posts, begin to identify top-performing content types, topics, and formats on Threads,” advises my colleague Paula Velandia, Head of Data, US. “Tailor your content to maximize engagement and drive desired outcomes."
Unfortunately, there are currently no built-in insights or analytics features on Threads, so you’ll need to manually track content’s performance. “Test and learn, and try to understand the platform's algorithm to adapt your content strategy effectively. Monitor brand health and sentiment: Without social listening software on Threads, rely on vigilant community managers,” adds Velandia.
In short: have fun with it! It’s been incredible to see how Threads has spun up so quickly—and at a pivotal point in the realm of social media. Only time will tell how the platform continues to evolve amidst a growing list of microblogging competitors, and how brands will experiment with folding them into their strategies.
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