Threads: The new kid on the social media block

On the 5th July 2023, Meta (owners of Facebook and Instagram) launched their rival to Twitter: Threads. Much like Twitter, Threads is a text-focused social platform where users can publish a series of connected posts (i.e. a ‘thread’), which will appear in their connections’ news feeds. Like Twitter, users can attach images or videos to their posts.

100m users in 5 days: but what’s the catch?

Threads acquired users at a record-breaking rate: just five days after launch, 100 million users had already signed up to the app. 2023’s other runaway success – ChatGPT – took two months to reach this milestone.

But there’s a catch: you have to have an Instagram account to join Threads. In this way, it’s more of a new feature for established users of Instagram, of which there are over two billion. Looked at this way, you could say 100 million out of two billion isn’t very many – especially when Instagram has been sending them “your friends’ first Threads” notifications!

Threads vs Twitter

Much like Take That vs East 17 (although personally, I was more of a 5ive fan myself), the debate rages over whether Threads or Twitter is best. Many people are more wary of using Twitter now that Elon Musk has taken over. That said, many people are arguably wary of Mark Zuckerberg’s products too! So, let’s take a look at the features of both apps.

The first thing to say is that Threads and Twitter are quite similar: so much so that Musk’s legal team have started action against Meta for alleged intellectual property infringement. 

How that will pan out remains to be seen, but on both platforms, you can:

  • Share short text posts (up to 240 characters on Twitter, and 500 on Threads)
  • Add multimedia items to your posts (up to 4 items on Twitter, and 10 on Threads)
  • React to and reshare other users’ posts

There are some key differences as well:

  • Twitter is a standalone platform; Threads is entirely dependent on Instagram
  • Twitter is heavily reliant on advertising; Threads is currently ad-free
  • Twitter is a text-first platform; Threads offers more flexible content formats such as carousel posts
  • Twitter is available via a web or app interface; Threads is app-only
  • Twitter depends on hashtags to put posts in front of relevant audiences; Threads currently doesn’t support hashtags, but expect many changes and additional features soon

Also, as Threads is dependent on Instagram, there’s no direct messaging feature on the app – users have to message each other on Instagram instead.

Will Threads kill off Twitter?

Given Twitter’s ongoing problems and the negative reactions to recent changes Elon Musk announced regarding rate-limiting of tweets, it seems Meta has picked the perfect time to launch Threads to give Twitter a real headache.  

Will Threads kill Twitter? Probably not, but you can almost guarantee it will kill off many of the other “Twitter-wannabes” that have recently been hoping for a slice of Tweet-pie. Twitter alternatives now at risk include Mastodon, Bluesky, HiveSocial, and T2 – all of whom were slowly making inroads, but will now certainly be impacted by Threads and the global social media dominance of Meta.

Interested in Threads? How to get started

If you agree that “Threads is like Twitter with a better vibe” and you’re keen to get stuck in, the first thing you need to do is download the Threads app and log in with your Instagram credentials. Be aware that once you do this, you can’t delete Threads without also deleting Instagram – that’s how closely they’re linked!

Once you’re in, our best advice is to treat Threads as an experiment. It’s so new that there really aren’t any tried and tested ways to generate an ROI from it (yet). So, have fun with it! Try out new kinds of content that you’re not posting on your more established channels. 

And don’t be shy about including some promotional content, either: at last count, the app was up to 150 million downloads, with 100 million active users. With a lack of clutter in the form of ads and sponsored posts, this is an amazing opportunity to get your brand’s content seen.

Make sure to follow us on Threads (search for NSDesign or find us under the @nsdesignltd user name) and for more help with your digital marketing, get booked onto one of our social media masterclasses, buy the bestselling book, or talk to our team.

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