Stick or twist: should you jump into Threads or hold out on Twitter?

Meta’s much anticipated Twitter rival launched on July 6th, becoming the fastest growing app ever with 100m users joining in the first five days. But, why has it proven so popular? And more importantly, should your business be making the leap onto yet another social platform?

What is Threads?

Threads is the “Instagram text based app” according to Meta. But make no mistake, it’s a well-timed Twitter rip off (copy). The experience is very similar –  users post text updates (500 characters vs. Twitter’s 280, for non-blue tick accounts). Images, GIFs, links and videos can be added to threads, and replies work in much the same way as Twitter. Users can import all their Instagram followers too, so there’s no sense of having to start from scratch.

Mark Zuckerberg has been very keen to state that Threads is the anti-Twitter when it comes to discourse, with its mission “to create an open and friendly public space for conversation”. And whatever you think of Twitter’s current state – opinions seem to range from “Elon is saving the internet”, to “Twitter is a complete bin fire” – the platform is definitely in flux. The launch of Threads came days after Twitter put temporary limits on the number of tweets users could see, claiming AI scraping tools were affecting performance (something disputed by many developers on the app).

Advertising spend on Twitter is also down 54% in the last year, and many Twitter users have decried the cheap, spammy adverts now flooding the platform. Currently, when it comes to Twitter our advice to most clients (not all) is to hold off – don’t base any campaigns primarily in Twitter, don’t plough big advertising spend into it, and definitely don’t start a new account.

OK, let’s open that branded Threads profilet!

Well, as is often the case, it depends. Brands we see gaining traction are the same ones that have been getting cut through on Twitter, usually with irreverent, funny or timely content. The trouble here is that we’re in a catch 22. Brands do best on Twitter when they can engage with cultural moments, but if Threads just becomes a sanitised brand/ personality echo chamber, there will be no culture to engage with. Twitter has worked well historically due to the sheer volume of discussion on the platform, because of its immediacy, and because it genuinely started out as  place for individuals to have conversations. Brands came later.

Another reason for brands to sit tight is that Threads is very feature-light at the moment. There’s no keyword search function, no trends, no hashtags and no DMs. That makes it very hard for you to see the conversation, mitigate any issues or reach out to customers. All these features will be in the pipeline, but who knows when they’ll go live.

Finally, unless you’re a brand like Nike or Aldi that consumers *expect* to see on Threads, it’s worthwhile waiting to see how things pan out. Be a voyeur, thinking through what your place on the platform really is. After all, resource finite – do you need to be on yet another platform? If you have a good Instagram following, that’s a head start. If you don’t, it’s even more of a question as to whether you should be on there at all. Is it worth adding that your threads account is linked to insta so if you decide threads isn’t for you and you want to delete it, you will lose all those lovely insta followers too

So, we shouldn’t do anything?

Never say never. Twitter without Twitter’s problems is very appealing. Meta plans to have a stricter moderation policy on Threads, which is good news for brands and advertisers keen to avoid controversy and trolling. Long term, Meta wants Threads to be part of the Fediverse – a collection of separate online entities that can talk to each other. Put simply, you could simultaneously post on Threads, Mastodon and Tumblr – an absolute dream in the era of siloed apps.

As ever with social media, there is no straight-forward answer. A compromise for now is to have a personal account on the platform to observe, engage and get a feel for what your business could get out of the platform.

Want to chat about Threads? Drop us a line.