Meta’s newest venture is Threads, the proclaimed ‘Twitter killer’ and the next big thing. Zuckerberg’s aim is to: “take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas and discussing what’s on your mind”. Threads reached a record-breaking 100 million downloads in five days, making it one of the most downloaded apps on launch day; since then it’s reached 150 million. An exceptional start but how is that playing out? The PRCA webinar panel discussed the highs and lows.
Threads currently have the nostalgic vibe of an old-school Twitter. Everyone’s happy to be there, it’s positive, friendly, brands are having fun and not taking it, or themselves, too seriously (see Aldi and Duolingo to brighten up your day).
While text length is still limited, Threads allows 500 characters, almost doubling Twitter’s 280 limit. This is creating space for more of a discussion and it is currently being used as more of a community than a broadcast platform, however, this is partly due to it being hard to find content. This brings us on to the iffy…
The lack of functionality on Threads is hindering its potential and people are unsure how to utilize it effectively. It doesn’t have a clear USP and is currently a clone of Twitter but with missing features. Zuckerberg has been open about it being released in a large-scale beta mode, with a bare-bones approach and features being added on the go. The platform saw an initial surge of users with its impressive launch week, however, it is struggling to retain interest due to limited features and usability. Active user rates have dropped down to only 20 million.
Currently, it’s difficult to actually find relevant content. Threads has no trending topics, hashtags or list functionalities and the feed is automatically populated by the algorithms that be. Since the webinar, some users have a new update, adding a personal feed, showing just people you follow (if you can find them first) however not everyone has this feature yet.
Threads is sitting in a no man’s land between Twitter and Instagram: there is not a clear transition from the visual creative users of Instagram to be able to write interesting copy; but it’s too hard to find information and follow trends for it to take over from Twitter at the moment.
The current audience appears to be millennials, with nothing new or interesting enough to entice Gen Z over to the platform and it doesn’t easily link with TikTok or Snapchat, however they could be lurking and not yet posting. There is uncertainty about Threads’ potential for influencers, as it currently does not offer enough creative opportunities to stand out.
Threads is currently not available in the EU due to privacy concerns; this is limiting to brands wanting to broadcast on it and is stopping it from becoming global.
Users must have an Instagram account to set up Threads; this can be both limiting and time-consuming for some businesses if they don’t already have one. It can be a lot of work to decide a visual presence on Instagram and some industries, for example fintech, don’t easily lend themselves to visual mediums. Some brands are rapidly backdating their Instagram accounts, as the risk of leaving a blank account means it can look like a fake.
Brands are understandably interested in Threads but many are cautious about investing. There is a lack of analytics, monitoring, or APIs so it is currently manual and hard work to know if a campaign has been successful. Currently, there is no web version of Threads, it can only be accessed by an app, making it more difficult to use for business.
Threads is not currently smooth sailing, but it does have exciting potential, especially for brands. When adverts and targeted posts are launched it is likely to have the aptitude for pinpoint accuracy and micro-targeting as it will have the weight of Meta’s data behind it. Currently, Meta has promised no adverts for a year however due to the surprisingly quick user acquisition they may have to scale up their Threads team of 20, which may mean they need to fund it earlier.
The PRCA panel had mixed advice on how brands should proceed but agreed being involved in some way is definitely beneficial. Small companies with limited resources may benefit from just lurking, watching and keeping their ear to the ground, following as many brands as possible that are doing well. Larger brands or those willing to have a go should get stuck in, have a play, be creative and find a unique angle.
Zuckerberg’s playful approach and Twitter’s decline (and now likely the rebrand to X) have positively affected Threads’ reputation but its long-term impact is still uncertain. We can’t wait to see what the future holds with all of these shake-ups to the social media landscape, but we’ll certainly be here to keep you up to date.