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Picking up the Thread

Picking up the Thread

Meta’s Threads is now the fastest-growing app of all time. But if you haven’t yet had the chance to dive in, our social media experts break down what you need to know. 

Designed as a direct competitor to Twitter, Threads is a conversation app that allows text posts (500-character limit), links, photos, videos (up to five minutes), account tagging, reposting, quote reposting, comments/replies and more. 

Its advantage is it is owned by Instagram and Facebook’s parent company. This means brands that already have commercial relationships with these platforms will find it easier to migrate posting activity (and potentially ad spends) to Threads. It also allows users to import Instagram followers and followed accounts directly. 

What makes it different (for now): Threads has several key features that differentiate it from other social media platforms, like:

  • Organic only: Currently, the platform does not provide advertiser access, but this could change.

  • Mobile only: Threads is a mobile-only app, which means that users can only access it through their smartphones (unlike Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).

  • Completely tied to Instagram: Threads is fully integrated with Instagram, letting users port over account information and followers, which is a unique advantage smaller rivals lack. It currently requires an Instagram account to engage on the platform, and can only be deleted by deleting the existing Instagram account used to create it.

  • Algorithmic feed: Like on Instagram, Thread’s algorithmic feed is populated by the people users follow and the content they consume, as well as recommendations. This is distinct from Twitter's chronological timeline, though a “following feed” may be coming.

  • No hashtags, direct messages or streaming: This means users will have to rely on the algorithmic feed to discover new content. Threads also has no direct messaging or livestream options.

  • Search: Users can only search for other Threads accounts rather than specific topics.

  • Reach and audience implications: Threads is currently available in 100 countries, but not in the EU due to Meta’s handling of user data.

By the Numbers

Following the Thread

For brands considering its implications, Threads appears to be an exciting new platform that offers a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and engage with users in new ways. 

Threads seems to be a data-intensive app in the vein of Instagram and Facebook. This means it may offer advertisers a wealth of data on user behavior, which can be used to target ads more effectively. The platform’s direct connection to Meta products also makes audience building somewhat easier.    

Accounts that are already verified on Instagram will be verified on Threads. Others can attain verification through Instagram’s legacy verification process, which requires a request for manual verification by Meta. This process may take several weeks to get a response. Meta also offers Meta Verified, a new, paid process fairly similar to Twitter Blue. Meta Verified is only available in select regions and may also take time to process. 

Many celebrities, consumer goods companies—such as Pepsi and Amazon, and news sources—such as Bloomberg Business—and other verified Instagram users have already joined the platform since its launch.

Ultimately, Threads could be a game-changer in the social media landscape. But for now, any brand Threads effort should be framed as a test to revisit as things unfold – especially as platform best practices, community norms, engagement tactics and more develop. If the audience size and daily users on Threads continue to grow, however, we can expect it to become a key emerging platform of investment.

FGS Global’s social media experts are monitoring these developmentsclosely, as well as  potential litigation efforts from Twitteragainst Meta that may impact the platform.

Threading the Needle

Every company will need to decide whether to develop a presence on Threads based on its risk tolerance, mission, target audiences and social media goals. 

Here are some strategic questions to help you navigate this new platform:

1. Are you comfortable operating on a nascent social media platform without best practices like clear posting norms, robust/automated social media listening or established methods of engagement tracking? 

2. What are your peers and key stakeholders doing? Are they seeing large growth in following on Threads? Are they investing in social content output on the platform? 

3. What is your audience saying about the platform? Are they using it? How does your marketing and/or communications department(s) feel about the platform? 

4. Do you have underlying safety and privacy questions regarding the platform given Threads is a Meta company?

5. Is there a reputational risk for your brand in joining the platform? If so, what is the potential risk? Does that risk outweigh the potential engagement reward? 

6. What does your existing exposure and presence on Instagram look like? Do you have a robust following that can make an easy use case for investment in Threads? 

7. Does your social team have the bandwidth for additional platform investment and dedicated content development? Given that cultivating a new account on a new platform requires intentional work, especially without advertising, what resources do you have and what do you need to properly invest in a successful Threads account? 

8. Does Threads meet your needs in a unique way that you are not seeing on other social platforms? If so, what are those needs and how is Threads addressing them? Is Threads’ user growth continuing in ways that make it worth the investment? 

9. As Twitter continues to change, do you view Threads as a potential replacement? What role does Twitter currently play in your communications strategy? Has tweet engagement, audience interaction and/or message resonance changed? Are you monitoring posts for ROI over time? At what point, if any, would Threads become an appropriate alternative to Twitter? 

10. Are you comfortable with starting a Threads account and not being able to delete it without also deleting your Instagram account? If not, are you comfortable having an unused account connected to your brand should you not wish to continue investing in Threads? 

July 11, 2023
By Nedra Pickler and Irene Moskowitz
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