Threads has attracted a huge user base and is proving to be a serious Twitter alternative. Here’s what marketers need to know.
Threads has become the fastest-growing social media platform in history since it launched on July 5.
Within the first hour alone, it received a whopping five million sign-ups — just three months after Meta confirmed it was working on an alternative to Twitter.
The buzz around Threads is huge news for marketers as many have been taking a step back from Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover last year, resulting in a 59% drop in ad spend in the US. Marketers are now understandably exploring new platforms to host their campaigns without compromising reach or quality.
Is Threads the best alternative for advertisers? Here’s everything you need to know…
What is Threads?
Threads is a new social networking app, operated by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms, which is closely integrated with Instagram and currently only available on iOS or Android devices. Meta has described Threads as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app”.
It gives its users the opportunity to post updates, share text, images, and videos, and interact with other users’ posts via likes, reposts and replies. On the app store, Threads is described as:
- “[A place] where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.”
- “Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things – or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”
Although the app is very similar to Twitter in several ways, Zuckerberg has stressed that one of the key differences is the focus on “kindness” and being “friendly”. He wrote on his Threads account:
- “The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success.”
- “That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”
- “We are definitely focusing on kindness and making this a friendly place.”
It’s worth noting that Threads is very closely integrated with Instagram. So much so, users can’t sign up for Threads without an Instagram account.
How many people have joined Threads?
More than 100 million people have signed up for Threads since its launch.
Taking to his own Threads account, Zuckerberg commented on the success of his app so far, writing:
- “Threads reached 100 million sign-ups over the weekend.”
“That’s mostly organic demand and we haven’t even turned on many promotions yet.”
- “Can’t believe it’s only been five days!”
To give some context into how significant this number is, when Instagram launched back in 2010 as an independent platform, it took a week to just reach 100,000.
What brands have signed up to Threads so far?
Nine of the top ten retailers, including Walmart and Kroger, have now activated their accounts on Threads, according to the National Retail Federation. The only chain not to so far is Costco
When it comes to the top five biggest consumer brands, only Reese’s has activated their account. And of the top ten most popular fashion brands, only Nike has signed up. It’s believed this is because advertisers are being cautious and want to see how Threads develops before making any commitments.
However, other huge names have been quicker with signing up and already have active accounts, such as Calvin Klein, Kith, Allbirds, Shein and Uniqlo.
Will Threads have ads?
Marketers don’t currently have the option to purchase ad space on Threads. However, a source told Axios that the Instagram team are working on making their branded content tools available in the not-too-distant future, with ads expected to be introduced when Threads reaches a critical mass. Until then, marketers are advised to clearly disclose paid partnerships by using hashtags or text.
It’s worth noting that Meta’s other brands, such as Instagram, launched without ads. Now, advertising is one of Instagram’s biggest sources of revenue.
Why isn’t Threads available in the EU?
Threads is available in more than 100 countries – however, it’s not currently available in the European Union. This is due to concerns its data privacy operations don’t comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act.
Carissa Veliz, an associate professor at the Institute for Ethics in AI at the University of Oxford, told the Guardian:
- “Meta has not only not changed its business model, it continues to want to do targeted ads, essentially surveillance advertising.”
- “To that end, the company is trying to collect as much data as possible and trying to continue in the same direction as it has from the very start despite all the scandals, despite the public backlash, despite warnings from regulators, despite fines. It’s not reimagining its business model to make it a more respectful business model towards users.”
- “It can include sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, biometric data, trade union membership, pregnancy status, politics, religious beliefs. And all these data can potentially be sent to third parties.”
Currently, there are no plans to roll out Threads in EU countries. However, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Meta is awaiting further guidance regarding the Digital Marketing Act to see if an EU launch will be possible at a later stage.
The European Commission is expected to provide more details but not until September. So a Threads launch date in EU countries is yet to be confirmed.
How will Threads track its users?
Threads will collect a vast amount of information about its users, in the same way Meta’s other platforms Facebook and Instagram do. Meta’s apps gather and store all the details users enter, including sensitive information such as:
- Health and fitness information
- Financial information
- Browsing history
- Search history
- Home address
- Email address
- Phone number
- IP information
- Type of device being used
- Device signals (such as Bluetooth signals, nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers)
In addition to the above, Threads also stores data on how its users interact with posts and who they are following. This in-depth level of detail Threads stores about its user is why EU officials are concerned about data privacy.
Is Threads safe?
Threads is enforcing Instagram’s Community Guidelines on content and interactions. Under these terms, users must be at least 13 years or older, and users under 16 years (or 18 in some countries) will automatically get a private account by default. However, parents are still advised to monitor their children’s activities online.
Users will have the option to filter their settings, meaning they have control over who can reply to them in texts. In addition, users will be able to block unwanted accounts and any accounts that they may have blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads too.
Meta has invested more than $ 16 billion into protecting people that use its platforms since 2016, and has stated that safety remains a top priority on Threads.
What can you search for on Threads?
Threads is different from Twitter in the sense you currently cannot search for hashtags or topics. At the moment, users can only use the search tool to look up other users – both those they already follow and those they don’t follow.
When profiles are presented in the Threads search results that a user doesn’t already follow, they will have the option to instantly follow them or to view their full profile.
Why do you need an Instagram account to join Threads?
Meta announced on its Instagram blog that Threads would be linked to people’s Instagram accounts. Explaining the reasoning behind this decision, it said:
- “Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas.”
- “Just like on Instagram, with Threads you can follow and connect with friends and creators who share your interests – including the people you follow on Instagram and beyond.”
- ‘The benefits of open social networking protocols go well beyond the ways people can follow each other. Developers can build new types of features and user experiences that can easily plug into other open social networks, accelerating the pace of innovation and experimentation. Each compatible app can set its own community standards and content moderation policies, meaning people have the freedom to choose spaces that align with their values.
- “We believe this decentralized approach, similar to the protocols governing email and the web itself, will play an important role in the future of online platforms.”
- “Threads is Meta’s first app envisioned to be compatible with an open social networking protocol – we hope that by joining this fast-growing ecosystem of interoperable services, Threads will help people find their community, no matter what app they use.”
How can you change your username on Threads?
As your Threads profile is connected to your Instagram account, certain details are transferred between the two including your name and username. So in order to change your username on Threads, you need to change your Instagram username. To do this, you need to take the following steps:
- Tap the profile icon in the bottom right-hand corner to load your profile.
- Select the ‘Editor Profile’ button which is located underneath your bio.
- Users can then enter a new Instagram username in the Username field.
- Once the new username has been entered, select the checkmark in the top right-hand corner to save your new settings.
Are there any posting limitations on Threads?
There are limitations on posts and videos:
- Posts – Users are restricted to sharing posts with a maximum of 500 characters. However, they can include links, photos and videos.
- Videos – Videos can be no longer than five minutes.
How does Threads work?
Threads is a pretty straight-forward app to use that operates in a similar way to Twitter. Here’s how you get started:
- Make sure you have an Instagram account. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to sign up.
- Download the Threads app and sign in using your Instagram login details.
- Once you’re logged in, the app will ask if you’d like to follow the same accounts that you follow on Instagram.
- The app will then suggest other profiles to follow that it thinks may be of interest to you.
- You can then start using the app. Your feed will serve a combination of posts from people you follow as well as recommended content. You can engage with these posts by either liking them, replying, reposting, or quoting the posts.
- As with Twitter, you also have the option to share posts, videos and pictures on your own profile too.
Is Threads replacing Twitter?
Meta CEO Zuckerberg said he believes Threads will be bigger than Twitter but it will take time.
- “I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it,” he said. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully we will.”
Since its launch, Threads has certainly been a success so far. During its first two days of operation, Twitter traffic was down 5% in comparison to the same period a week earlier. It was also 11% down compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the web analytics company SimilarWeb.