July 6, 2023 | Written by Emma Sadonick-Carriere

What is Threads? (and What Does It Mean for Your Brand?)

Like many this morning, you may have opened up Instagram only to have it tell you to download a new app — Threads — to claim your username.  It's not a bad idea if you haven't already. 

What is Threads? 

Everyone is saying Threads is Meta's answer to Twitter. Not technically incorrect, but not totally accurate either, IMHO. 

Threads is another text-based social platform, which currently limits you to 500 characters. Twitter allows 280 characters for most users and is rolling out higher limits to select users.  

You can share links, photos, and videos on both platforms. On Threads, you can automatically follow any accounts you already follow on Instagram. Your feed is a combination of content from accounts you follow and suggested content from "creators you haven't discovered yet". So, rather than having separated "Following" and "For You" feeds you have one main stream of content. 

Twitter has obviously been around longer so it has been able to work out some of the kinks based on user feedback, and created some problems of its own. But that's a whole other blog post. There's a reason people (maybe just social media managers?) joke that Twitter has a new main character every day and you never want it to be you.

What makes Threads different from Twitter?

Threads claims to have the same suite of safety and user controls as Instagram, as well as the same accessibility features already enabled. They want users to be able to have positive, productive conversations and be able to filter out the negative with robust filtering and restrictive tools. 

Their end goal, as outlined in their introduction on the Meta site, is to have Threads comply with the W3C Protocol to be interoperable (meaning it will share and play nicely) with other social media platforms that also comply. Eventually, people would be able to interact with users on Threads without having an account. Users could also (in the future) choose to stop using the platform and transfer their content to a different service. 

Also on the list of future plans are "improved recommendations in feed" and an improved "search function that makes it easier to follow topics and trends in real time." No mention of future advertising functionality. 

What does Threads mean for your brand?

Do you really need to jump on the Threads bandwagon today? Maybe. If nothing else, claim your personal and business account handles so you have them if/when you decide to lean into the platform. Then start creating a strategy for how the platform can work for you, your goals, and your audience.

Things to consider when creating a strategy for a new social media platform:

  • What format is content on the platform best delivered in? Since it's a text-based platform, it's fair to assume that early versions of the algorithm will favour posts that are text only. How can your brand leverage that?
  • What evergreen content do you already have that can be translated to the platform?
  • Since users can automatically follow accounts they're already following on Instagram, chances are your initial audience will already be familiar with who you are and what you represent. Introductory content may not be necessary.
  • New platforms are a great place to try something new. Is there a content topic or theme you've been sitting on or saving for the right time? Test it out now!
  • How can you start engaging and building community from day one?

So, the TL;DR of it all: Threads is a new text-based platform that feels a lot like the early days of social media. It makes me think of messenger statuses and early tweets — vague, one-off thoughts and conversations. Seeing how the platform changes and grows in the next few weeks as user uptake builds will be interesting!

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