Pulling the Right Threads
Threads, the new social media platform from Meta, became the fastest growing in history, netting five million sign ups in the first hour it was live. It's a sister platform to Instagram, making it easy to create an account if you're already on Insta. This gives it access to the picture sharing platform's 2.35 billion users globally. After less than one week live, Threads already had 100 million accounts and while that's not close to Twitter (or X)'s 450 million accounts, it will surely catch up very quickly. Mark Zuckerberg intends Threads to extend interactions happening on Instagram to text, expanding conversations.
In terms of interface and interaction style, Threads is very similar to Twitter/X, a fact which Twitter/X CEO Elon Musk threatened legal action over. What happens legally remains to be seen, as Musk is now embroiled in more hot water after a rebrand gone awry. Musk changed his platform's name from Twitter to X, but it transpired that other companies, including Meta and Microsoft, already own the name for potential future products. No-one knows exactly how that is going to play out but it is no longer surprising that Musk has made another miscalculation.
When it comes to marketing on Threads we can see the appeal, as the format is very similar to Twitter/X in terms of look and interaction style, while many companies already advertise on Instagram. Although Threads doesn't yet have a dedicated ad platform there will be one when there are enough active accounts – once critical mass has been achieved. Instagram didn't have an advertising system when it launched, and it's now one of the major sources of revenue for the platform. Currently, marketers are encouraged to be clear around paid partnerships and sponsored content (SponCon) with hashtags and text.
The elephant in the room is whether the EU will permit Threads to operate there. At the moment it is banned while EU rulemakers decide whether Threads' data policies fit with the EU Digital Markets Act. Currently, Threads collects a lot of personal data including health, financial and personally identifiable information, and the depth of this data as well as what will be done with it is of concern to the EU. There won't be any further action on this until September, so companies who do a lot of European business would do well to pause any projects on Threads until then, and consolidate their existing social media marketing instead.
Threads is still a young platform, and despite the tie to the behemoth of Instagram it is very much in the teething phase. The near-constant controversies surrounding Musk's projects work in Threads' favour, but until the EU makes its ruling and we see whether critical mass is achieved for user numbers we would urge cautious optimism at this stage. Companies who have agility in their budget and partnerships that they could adapt from Twitter/X quickly could have a go at using Threads to test the water but wholesale buy-in at this stage would be premature.
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