Unraveling Threads & How Brands Should Approach This Social Newcomer
The Stella TL;DR:
Threads is an immediate and significant win for Meta, making us forget all about their recent Metaverse debacle. The challenge will be creating a strong, safe environment for brands and maintaining audience engagement (including Gen Z) to avoid the fate of the once-hyped app Clubhouse. In this case, we’d bet on Zuck.
The Fastest-Growing Consumer App in History!
Meta’s long-speculated Twitter competitor, Threads, is officially here and gained 30 million signups in its first 24 hours! Built off Instagram’s billions of users, Meta officially launched Threads late Wednesday, positioned as a companion experience to Instagram. While Instagram serves as a platform for sharing photos and videos, Threads aims to be a text-based space for community engagement. In short, a Twitter-killer.
The clearest distinction for Threads is that it launched with the ability to bring billions of users who already use Instagram to Meta’s newest social entrant. Shortly after launching, Zuckerberg posted that the platform had passed 5M sign ups in its first four hours and 10M sign-ups in the first seven hours. In comparison, Twitter clones Mastodon (2016) and Bluesky (2021), have yet to grow past single-digit millions of users since launch.
To join Threads, head to your App Store and download the app. You’ll be prompted to link to your Instagram account (and you need an Instagram account to access Threads). From there, the app will allow you to follow the same accounts you follow on Instagram and it will begin showing you recommended posts from accounts and brands you may not follow on Instagram, showing us that Meta is working to keep your Threads feed different from your Instagram. As of now, Threads is only available on the App Store and has yet to launch its site on desktop—but we anticipate this update is coming soon.
With Threads, users enter a feed experience of threads that’s a balance of accounts you follow coupled with algorithmic recommendations. Some early-known adopters to the app include Gordon Ramsay, Malala Yousafzai, Netflix, MLB, and more. However, there isn’t an option to make Threads show you only posts from your Following, and no option to remove Threads from accounts the algorithm recommends. Additionally, the feed is organized by the algorithm, and not chronologically (though Meta says that will change).
Some users have taken to Threads quickly and are already referring to Threads as a “Twitter Killer” or “Twitter Clone.” Officially, Meta is working hard to tell users that Threads is not Twitter—and definitely not a Twitter dupe. Rather, as Meta Product VP Connor Hayes puts it, “Threads is a new app that’s focused on text and dialogue. And the way that we think about this is we’re modeling it after what Instagram has done for photo and video.”
We believe the competition is real: Zuckerberg shared in his own Thread, “I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.” So, while there may be some growing pains for the newest platform in finding its identity and carving its space with Twitter, the goal is clear that Threads aims to be social-users’ first choice for a text-first social app and experience. And, Mr. Musk is taking notice, sharing that he was unimpressed by Threads, would be closing his Instagram account, and threatened legal action
While Threads continues to evolve, it appears to us that it shows a stronger integration into content as it’s able to personalize each user's experience from their Instagram.
If you’re looking for a simple explanation, however, Threads works like Twitter. It’s built for text conversations with a 500-character count limit. You mention others using @ in front of a username, and you can reply to someone else’s posts within the same thread. You can also reshare someone else’s threads (Retweet, anyone?).
And while Threads is built off Instagram, the two platforms aren’t actively integrated. You can post a photo or video to your Threads, and it won’t show up as a Reel or post on your Instagram (unless you choose to share it there). If you want to share your Instagram posts to your Threads you can, but they’ll show as regular links rather than drive viewers directly to your Instagram like you would experience sharing an Instagram post to your Instagram story.
While the similarities are clear, there are definite differences between the two text-oriented platforms. First up, Threads does not have a direct messaging capability at the time of launch, and as we’ve already shared, the desktop site is not ready yet. There are also no hashtags or trending-topics capabilities. Yet, possibly the most annoying function that is missing from Threads is the ability to edit your post once you’ve shared it.
What does this mean for brands? At launch, there are no ads on Threads. Brands who have joined the platform are doing so organically. However, we don’t expect an ad-free experience to last long as Meta’s core model is ad-revenue driven. For brands looking to join the platform in its early days, we’d recommend utilizing the space to further foster connection with your followers by sharing threads/posts that encourage engagement. Share some brand secrets, announce upcoming launches, or ask your community some questions. Just be ready to community manage when you start getting some replies.
What’s next for Threads? We expect the ability to share ads to Threads to be announced soon and integrated into our Meta ads manager system. We’ll continue to see users join and explore Threads, and see the impact to Twitter, and other text-first platforms. What’s unclear is when we can expect the desktop site to launch and if features like direct-messaging and trending topics will come to the platform. That being said, it’s important to note that a Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account, so we caution brands looking to join the new platform if they aren’t ready to fully commit to it.