Graphic demonstrating news content

Threads: what you need to know about the latest social channel

We are in the era of another (yes another) social media channel launch. This time Silicon Valley has delivered an app that stitches together the functionalities of Instagram, Reddit, and LinkedIn to go head-to-head with Twitter providing a content-based platform that allows public conversation.

Threads: the basics

The app was developed by social media colossus Meta and is cleverly connected to Instagram. Launched on 5th July 2023, it amassed 100 million users in just five days, becoming the fastest growing app in history.  It also superseded the speedy adoption of ChatGPT, which took two months to achieve this impressive milestone.

A key reason for this rapid adoption is Threads’ seamless and easy integration for Instagrams’ 1.682 billion users (April 2023) allowing Instagram users to join Threads by using their Instagram credentials. The app will transfer their username, bio, and Instagram followers.

Users can share text-based posts up to 500 characters long and include photos, web links, and videos up to 5 minutes in length and the promise of positive real-time conversation is another reason Instagram users are flocking to Threads.

Meta’s stance that Threads is designed to be a positive social sharing platform is why it could be seen as a direct competitor and disruptor to Twitter has been under fire recently and become infamous for trolling and fake news.

Is there a need for Threads?

In the world of marketing, Twitter is not often viewed as a primary platform to promote businesses because of the polarising position it has with many audiences.

Internet safety has been a trending topic with social media users for some time. While users have access to global content and conversations, this also exposes them to trolling and “keyboard warriors.”

Entrepreneur Steven Bartlett, shared on LinkedIn that he believes that Threads comes at the perfect time, “Twitter is in transition, limiting the amount of tweets you can read and the site is feeling less "safe" for more people than ever. Threads endeavours to be the friendly / safer version of Twitter and if there were ever a time when people were looking for a new train to get on, it might just be now.”

As it stands to date, it is being promoted with the ethos of a “positive and creative space to express your ideas” – yet it is built using the same safety features that Instagram employs, which has had its own share of criticism for allowing harmful and inappropriate posts onto people’s feeds.

Meta claims that the following functions, which are not all unique to Threads, support positive, productive conversations:

  1. An automatic private account for users under 16 (and 18 in some countries)
  2. The ability to hide a reply from your Thread.
  3. You control who can mention you or reply to you within Threads.
  4. You can add hidden words which filters out replies to your threads containing certain words.
  5. Easily unfollow, block, restrict and report a profile.
  6. Accounts blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads.
  7. No ability to send direct messages.
  8. Content moderation is the same as Instagram, but stricter than Twitter.

While users are craving more genuine connections following recent years’ global events, there is no social media platform that fully protects user safety.

8 Things you need to know about Threads right now:

  1. Can only access it through your mobile phone and you must have an Instagram account.
  2. Threads is powered by Instagram and see’s Instagram and Threads as one account. If you want to delete your Threads account, you will have to delete your Instagram account as well.
  3. Content scheduling is not yet available.
  4. Currently not available in the EU due to data privacy compliance concerns (more on that below)
  5. Advertising is not yet available, with Mark Zuckerberg stating on the platform that they want to be “on a clear path to 1 billion people” before they consider monetization.
  6. No topic search function available to date, but you can search for accounts.
  7. You don’t see Threads in chronological order.
  8. Your feed shows you any activity made by someone you follow, and that activity can open up a whole feed of content from their network, meaning you will see activity from people you don’t follow too.

How much data does Threads collect?

The Threads App Privacy information indicates what data the app will be collecting from users.

What it tells us is that a Threads user will be sharing their health and fitness, financial information, contact information, user content, browsing history, usage data, diagnostics, purchases, location, contacts, search history, identifiers, sensitive info, and other data.

It is this level of data that is preventing the app from being launched in the EU, as they have stricter privacy rules that the app doesn’t yet comply with. What is not clear yet is why they are collecting this level of data and what the purpose of it is.

The current impact of Threads

As with any new technology we never truly know what will happen until it is in consistent use and the immediate hype has calmed down – but if the rate of growth continues, it will undoubtedly threaten the long-term future of Twitter.

It’s also having a significant impact on Instagram, another of Meta’s platforms. Some heavy hitting Instagram influencers are already concerned with the dip in activity and engagement on Instagram. “The past day and a half, it’s been totally crickets on Instagram and I’ve been hearing from other creators as well and they’re wondering if it’s even worth posting here now.” said Haley Kalil, comedy content creator in a Forbes article.

With the launch of Threads, the heat has been turned up between the two tech giants, Zuckerburg and Musk, and Twitter has responded by threatening legal action for the use of trade secrets or the use of any other highly confidential information.

What does the future of Threads look like?

After just over a week in market, Threads has become a topic of conversation showing up daily in our feeds and constantly in the agency.

No-one knows the future of any channel, but what we do know is this:

  • It’s rolling out in more than 100 countries for IOS and Android.
  • Advertising will become available when the app hits the 1 billion user benchmark (or when the app is en route to 1 billion).
  • It is being developed to integrate with other digital and social platforms (not just Instagram)
  • A chronological feed is in development.
  • The algorithm will likely as the app developments.

Should you get Threading for your business?

Right now, the target demographic is a direct uplift of Instagrams with most users being active Gen Z, Millennials, and the actively growing Gen X audience. The largest audience demographic on Twitter are Millennials, thus if the app does continue its growth, it could become the primary space for Millennials to spend their time.

Regardless of who is on Threads right now, some questions you could ask yourself are:

  • Is social media a major tactical delivery point for you?
  • Would microblogging help to achieve your objectives?
  • Do you have the resource to invest in commenting, creating, and learning a new platform?
  • Do you support your social media strategy with advertising?
  • Will your target audience be on the app?
  • What will your key message be and how will you add value to your audience?
  • Do you want to be recognised as a content leader or do you want to add to conversations?

As with any activity, it’s important to start with a strategy, and a new platform like Threads can take a bit of time to understand - how the algorithm works, what content performs the best and how to get the most engagement.

As an agency, we invest time into learning and understanding these new platforms, to see if it can be beneficial to our clients’ social strategies. We have been threading for a week and have seen positive adoption of the platform and how it is used.

From our point of view, this is likely to be an entertainment platform in its infancy, much like TikTok started with shortform dancing videos spreading like wildfire before it became the advertising juggernaut it is today. We aren’t quite sure where this could go but follow us on LinkedIn as we’ll be sharing more information in the coming months.

Sign up for industry updates straight to your inbox Subscribe

Back to all news & views here

Graphic demonstrating news content