There’s a new social media app on the market that has already made its way to more than 100 million smartphones. Naturally, brand managers, marketers, and socially savvy business owners are wondering if they should jump in too.
Threads by Meta is effectively an extension of Instagram, officially launched last week following months of rigorous beta testing as a sideline feature of the popular app.
Designed as a place to share short-form text, video, and photos, it’s clear that Threads has been crafted as an alternative “town square” meeting place to Elon Musk’s Twitter.
There are benefits and risks associated with brands joining new apps before their narratives are properly established.
Many major brands have already joined the conversation on Threads. Well-known brands like M&M and Band-Aid were among the founding accounts, as were sporting clubs like the Adelaide Crows, fashion powerhouse ASOS, and most mainstream media outlets.
As a new app, Threads doesn’t come with a completely clean slate. Although it’s a fresh platform, it is a subsidiary of Instagram, a place for people and brands to share uplifting images and short-form videos. So, one would assume that the narrative being developed on Threads will be of a similar tone.
Instagram also comes with an established primary demographic. According to the online data centre Statista, upwards of 62% of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.
Twitter, on the other hand, has a history best known for uncensored statements, political announcements, and up-to-the-second news updates. The majority of Twitter users are between the ages of 25 and 39.
Twitter is also experiencing a decline in usage. Although it has a strong base number of accounts, only 10% of its users are responsible for 92% of its tweets, meaning many either just sit back and watch the conversation or don’t regularly engage.
When asking the South Australian Business Chamber members for their initial thoughts on the app, opinions came in thick and fast.
Georgi Roberts from Pitstop Marketing, who works with many South Australian brands on their social media strategies, shared that her agency had already jumped onto Threads and sees it as a cage fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
“The outcome is pretty predictable,” said Georgi. “Our bet’s on Zuckerberg.”
“It looks better than Twitter, it’s easier to join, and we’re dancing around the outside a little bit, waiting for the juicy stuff to happen.
“We like that the news feed is delivered chronologically; we dislike that you can’t DM people, and the algorithm is working hard on who we’re looking at.”
Kerryn Page, Spruiker at Quisk Digital Agency, commented that at first look, it’s Twitter but ‘Zucker-ised’.
“You have ample characters (500) to share your thoughts and opinions and surpass the current 280-character limit on Twitter’s free version.
“In addition to text, you can share photos and videos up to five minutes long, and links to external sites.
“The app’s capabilities hint at potential developments and enhancements in the future, so it’s a space worth keeping an eye on for further updates and features to come.
“Our suggestion is don’t jump at the next brightest, shiniest star… stay focused on fishing where your fish are,” said Kerryn.
When TikTok hit the mainstream, brands were quick to be a part of it. When Instagram launched way back in 2010, businesses found their place almost immediately.
Avid marketers often seize the opportunity to be the first in their field to mark their presence on new platforms, usually enjoying organic reach far beyond what’s expected from more established sites.
In the early versions of new social media platforms, there is usually no paid advertising capability either, making it a more appealing space for individuals and brands to engage with their audiences, uninterrupted by an algorithm designed to target and sell.
We also tend to see a hype period surrounding new apps before the dust settles to show their true usage. Many launch, try, and then retreat. Audio and live conversation platform Clubhouse for example quickly grew to become the #1 social app in 82 countries by May 2020. However, 18 months later, owners Epic Games announced it would be shutting down in October 2021.
There is no harm in dipping your brand’s proverbial toe into Threads to see what all the fuss is about, with the main risk being an overinvestment in time for potentially not a lot of reward if you don’t find your place.
Advertising giant Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia took to YouTube SHORTS last week on launch day, telling subscribers to jump on and try.
“All of you need to go immediately and sign up for your Threads account.
“Go try it. It’s incredibly important you go and try new things. Whether you like it or not, you’ll figure it out.”
For larger organisations with well-resourced marketing teams, Threads provides an opportunity to discover new ways of communicating your brand with potentially a new audience of people.
For smaller organisations with limited resources, established channels, and clearly defined target markets, it’s probably worth waiting until the dust settles on Threads to see if it’s worth adding the platform to your social strategy.
In any case, we will now witness a battle of epic proportions between Mark Zuckerberg’s Threads (to grow its user base) and Elon Musk’s Twitter (to hold market share). The billionaires are likely to invest huge amounts of money to advertise their platforms and optimise user experience to dominate in this space.
There are also early indications Twitter will sue Meta over the Threads app.