If you’re a marketer, your life got turned upside down again a few months ago when Meta announced its competitor to X, the website formerly known as Twitter — Threads.
However, you can’t always decide whether you should join a new social media platform with a simple yes or no. So we’d like to provide you with some context. We won’t just talk about user stats and features, but dig into what they actually mean and how they might affect your future marketing efforts.
Who Is Already Using Meta’s Threads Now?
If you’re serious about content marketing, you won’t simply jump on any new platform only to be there. To comprehend how a new platform fits into your content strategy and business goals, you’ll want to know about its demographics, communication styles and advertising models.
How does that influence our perspective on Meta’s Threads?
First of all, Threads only allows users to engage via mobile. You can view profiles on the desktop, but it’s a mobile-first platform like Instagram. Speaking of Threads’ bigger cousin, you need an Instagram account to create a profile. For marketers, that means you’ll initially target a subset of the same audience you could already reach on Instagram (presuming those users decide they want to follow all the same people on Threads that they’re following on instagram).
While Zuckerberg and Meta initially shared active user numbers for Threads, they stopped doing so last month. By current estimates, Threads has 125 million active users — just above 5% of Instagram’s 2.35 billion. Also, Threads is still subject to shiny-new-object syndrome, as we can tell by users leaving the platform after an initial surge. According to Elon Musk’s recent updates, X has recently reached 541 million users. While that’s impressive, X has been plagued by its own problems, from legal matters to technical errors and advertisers abandoning the platform.
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How Can Brands Use Threads?
As of now, Threads doesn’t offer any options for paid or promoted posts, even though we have heard of plans to include branded content over traditional ads. While you currently don’t get any reporting features, that could change, based on how quickly Meta has announced updates to its text-based platform.
Just like Elon Musk’s erratic policy changes unsettled advertisers, Zuckerberg’s announcement that Threads is to join the fediverse makes it unclear if the platform will be right for content marketing. While that would benefit users by giving them the option to follow and interact with people on other platforms like Mastodon, it also comes with the expectation that users govern the experience, which can make advertising a challenge. However, it could technically mean that Threads gives you access to the roughly 4 million active users across the fediverse.
Assuming you’re aware of all this and want to build a presence just in case, you should stick with a conversational tone. Threads moves fast, just like X. While X stepped away from its SMS style and now allows its paid subscribers to post up to 25,000 characters, Threads still limits you to 500 — although new threads will automatically be opened when you go over the limit. You can also attach up to 10 images or videos of up to 5 minutes to each thread.
From a technical standpoint, there’s a lot of potential. However, we have to keep in mind that features alone don’t make users flock to a platform. Ask Google+. The future will show if Threads is actually a good fit for marketers, and it’ll largely depend on people’s preferred use of the platform and the development of active user numbers.
Should Your Brand Be on Threads?
It’s difficult to make a blanket statement about whether brands should join Threads. Some indicators could tell you that it’s worth taking a peek.
If your competitors are already on there, it’s a good sign they’re seeing value. Keep in mind that advertising options are limited these days, so in those early days, we can all learn by observing what others are doing. It’s likely that you’ll encounter a lot of big brands trying to increase their reach and build brand awareness, simply because that’s the only strategy you can technically implement now.
It’s also worth noting that you can reshare your Threads content on Instagram, so it won’t be all wasted effort. However, you should also consider that creating text-based content requires extra work, especially since Threads content can’t be scheduled yet. So you’ll need to factor in resources for community management, content creation and manual posting.
That said, for information-dense or technical content, Threads can certainly offer new opportunities. If your industry deals with complex products, text formats give you an advantage to deliver the clarity your customers demand. Think of financial services, health-related information, educational content or specialized niche products.
While the platform currently doesn’t offer the full array of marketing features you may be looking for, it does allow you to report copyright infringement and submit your trademark. However, you also need to be comfortable with the different set of controls that come with Zuckerberg’s fediverse aspirations. For instance, when you delete a post, the platform will request that other servers delete it, but it may still be visible on servers Meta doesn’t directly control.
Some brands may not approve of that degree of ambivalence influencing their brand; others may see it as a way to demonstrate openness.
What Does It All Mean?
While Threads has the potential to become a great business asset for countless companies, a lot of that depends on the developments we’ll see over the next few months. There’s certainly no harm in joining Threads, provided you’ve got the capacity to deliver relevant content and engage with your community.
Be aware, though, that things may change quickly. Right now, future developments depend on too many factors to count, from X’s policies and features (surely Zuck is watching X like a hawk) to Meta’s fediverse strategy. It’s a good time for brands to revisit their content strategy and take stock of what’s working, but also to experiment with new platforms and formats, which hasn’t been the case in years.
The best way to future-proof your brand now is to do regular research and keep evolving. Just don’t join any platform solely because a headline says you’re missing out and you’ll be fine.