Threads, is a new text-first app developed by Instagram (owned by Meta) that claims to offer fresh ways to connect and share content. It was launched with great anticipation on July 6th, 2023, and had an astonishing 100 million sign-ups in the first week, setting a record as the fastest-growing consumer software application in history, surpassing even ChatGPT’s previous achievements. However, despite this initial success, the platform faced challenges, leading to a significant decline in active users in only its second week.
So what is Threads ?
It is a companion app to Instagram, enabling users to share text based posts of up to 500 characters, along with links, images, and videos of up to 5 minutes. It emphasizes public conversations and aims to foster an environment where users engage in discussions on various topics.
What is the Difference between Twitter/X and Threads
Though Threads surged in popularity, there are a number of significant different between it and Twitter/X, its most direct rival. On the plus side, it is owned by a more stable entity, Microsoft, and does not have a maverick boss (Elon Musk) prone to making dramatic statements and actions. This may make its filtering for inappropriate content more meaningful and hence the platform safer for all to use. Secondly, there is currently no advertising allowed on Threads, unlike on Twitter/X. The latter also charges significant fees for API access for data extraction and this impacts data-driven marketing and research.
On the negative side, Threads, does not yet have a web based version, and access to it from the EU is currently restricted because it has not yet met the data protection requirements of the EU GDPR rules. This poses a challenge for expansion into significant markets.
Finally, Threads does not allow advertising. Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, declared that monetisation will only occur once the platform attracts “hundreds of millions” of users.
Should I use Threads in my Marketing?
A brand’s ability to use Threads is somewhat limited, because currently pure advertising is banned on the platform. Of course, you can create a brand page, and all those with an Instagram account, will already automatically have a Threads handle. However the absence of hashtags and search capabilities on Threads poses challenges for marketers because it is harder to attract viewers, track user engagement and hence analyse data. Additionally, the absence of direct messaging on Threads makes it difficult to identify and communicate with prize winners directly from the Threads platform. So our view is that for now, it is best to leave Threads, to consumers and see what business related tools develop over the next few months.
Can I run a Prize Promotion on Threads?
There do not yet appear to be any specific rules relating to the running of prize promotions on Threads. But the absence of rules does not make it easy to do so. Firstly, how without advertising, hashtags and search, it is difficult to attract an audience to your promotion. Secondly, because it is a global platform, there may be restrictions on the type of prize promotion that you are running in certain countries, but it is hard to exclude users from those countries. Lastly, as we have seen extracting data and communicating with winners is difficult.
Marketers must make strategic decisions regarding their approach on Threads, deciding whether to project their established Instagram identity or adopt their Twitter persona to appeal to the audience seeking alternatives.
While Threads started with impressive momentum, both take up and actual usage have declined significantly. Limitations in features, data extraction, and promotional opportunities may slow its growth in the short term, although developers will no doubt be working on enhancing Threads’ compatibility with other open and interoperable social networks. Only then will the platform find its proper place in the social media landscape. Currently, its main use, is as a bastion, an alternative, to Twitter/X that is seemingly on a path to self destruction and disenfranchising vast swathes of its own users. Marketers do not need to be a part of every ‘new shiny thing’ that comes to market.