As Elon Musk works hard to further monetize Twitter, he has simultaneously alienated and infuriated much of the app’s user base. This has opened the door for a few tech companies eager to re-cast their offerings as an alternative (see: Discord and Mastodon). Even former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey entered the fray with Bluesky, which is still in an invitation-only beta with about 50,000 active users.
And then, last week, Meta, the parent company to Facebook and Instagram, launched Threads, sending social media managers everywhere into a “head-meets-desk” moment as they (once again) consider what to do with another platform that demands time, energy, and content. Before pouring resources into another platform, brands want to know who’s there, what it’s for, whether it will last and why is it special. It’s definitely early days—but here are some factors brands should know and consider.
- Your brand should absolutely be on Threads. At the least, it’s worth establishing your Threads account and using it to keep direct tabs on how the platform and the conversations there are evolving. Many brands are securing ownership of their accounts in this way, even if they’re not ready to start posting.
- Brands should take a pause, however, to curate the accounts they follow on Instagram before creating a Threads account. Make sure your brand follows accounts that reflect your audience and the topics most relevant to your business. That’s how Threads initially decides what to show you, and that has a direct impact on what you see in your feed from the get-go.
- Despite being Twitter-ish, the strategy isn’t necessarily the same. Threads’ environment isn’t as formal or buttoned-up as other social platforms *cough*LinkedIn*cough*. It’s an opportunity for B2B brands to take an approachable tone and a human voice. Brands can join in conversations with their clients’ customers, for example, to build authentic familiarity. Eventually, we see this becoming its own content, with a specific tone, rather than a straight-up re-post of what a brand might create for its other channels.
- Keep your Twitter account… for now. It’s too soon to tell if the immediate, monstrous attention that Threads is getting will last. Anecdotally, there are stories of people downloading Meta’s new app, getting annoyed with the lack of features and its algorithmic timeline, and then deleting it. Right now, our advice is to maintain your Twitter account as things shake out at Threads. It’s too soon to walk completely away from a platform that still has a ton of engaged journalists, news media and business audiences who are used to finding what they need there.
This audience of early adopters seems to be a mix of those “hey, why not” Instagram users, Twitter users eager to not be on Twitter, celebrities, social media influencers and some recognizable brands. Some of the heavy hitter B2B brands are already online (for example, Deloitte, HubSpot, IBM, Salesforce and Workday) but B2C brands (looking at you, Netflix and Wendy’s) seem to be the most at home. They’re starting conversations and directly interacting with their audience.
What’s the vibe?
Generally, the vibe is “maybe we can be nice for a change,” which isn’t a bad thing to aspire to for any social media platform. A positive, affirming flavor of Twitter might be a great brand association, but part of this new platform is a wait and see game. Whether that vibe will take hold and last is hard to predict. If it does, it will likely be from the behavior of users themselves and how they approach their content.
Why is it special?
Here’s a hot take: It’s not. At least, not yet. Threads, today, is basically a Twitter clone—it doesn’t offer any unique functionality or new features worth getting excited about. Meta will have to come up with a good reason to stay and build something together; it’s not enough to just be the “Twitter Killer” if it’s not also engaging.
The Threads team is building the plane while they’re flying it. There are no hashtags, DMs or advertising—although Meta promises those things are coming, and they already exist on Instagram. Threads is available in 100 countries, but not the EU yet. There’s no desktop version, and there’s no option for a chronological timeline. All users get an algorithmic timeline (which is what Instagram uses, by the way).
And Threads leadership has made the point that they aren’t “going to do anything to encourage politics and ‘hard news,'”— or discourage or down-rank it on the new platform—because the associated risks and negativity aren’t worth any potential revenue. How that position evolves over time is something to pay attention to.
What’s the next evolution of social media?
The answer can’t only be “not run by Elon Musk.” Threads has a lot of promise, deep pockets, and an immediate, giant footprint in the social media space. To say Threads has momentum is an understatement. Threads reached 100 million users in days. For context, ChatGPT took two months to achieve that.
Regardless of Threads’ early stats, only time will tell whether it’s a fad or the future. We plan to keep a sharp eye on it and will be talking about it again soon.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based PR agency with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.