Introducing Threads by Instagram – a new frontier for engaging conversations

14th Jul 2023

Instagram’s latest app, Threads, has captured the attention of marketers, businesses, and individuals alike. With its uncanny similarities to its rival Twitter, many were apprehensive about the launch, but now opinions are changing.

Today, we will cover the key information you need to know about Threads, our thoughts on the platform, and how it can be leveraged effectively for marketing purposes.

What is Threads?

Threads is a new social media app launched by Instagram where users can post “threads”, reply to other users, and follow profiles that they are interested in. The ‘threads’ and replies can include short pieces of text, links, photos, videos, or any combination of them.

People can also follow the user to see their threads and replies in their feed and from the user’s profile.

How is Threads different from its rival Twitter?

While at face value Threads seems an awful lot like Twitter, here are the key differences (so far) that you need to know:

  • The character limit for Threads is 500, whereas for unverified Twitter users, it is 280 characters.
  • Videos posted to Threads can be up to five minutes whereas Twitter limits non-verified users to two minutes and twenty seconds.
  • The homepage on Twitter shares trending topics and personalised recommendations to users, whereas exploring on Threads is currently limited to the home feed.
  • The rules on Threads are the same as Instagram, providing control for users to mute and block harassing accounts.
  • Threads is built on ActivityPub, a social-networking protocol which allows users to interact with a wider community beyond Instagram. According to Instagram, other platforms including Tumblr have shared plans to support the AcitivityPub protocol in the future.
Threads vs Twitter – The key differences between the two platforms (Source: BBC News).

These are just some of the key differences between the two platforms, with more changes yet to come.

How do you use Threads?

Right now, Threads is currently available on iOS and Android in more than 100 countries, and they can download the app via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. However, this is not currently available within the EU due to online privacy reasons.

By using your Instagram account when you set it up, users will be able to follow all the people that they already follow on the sister platform. Meaning that users will be able to import their username, name, and settings like their block list.

To start a thread

You can start a new thread by pressing the middle icon at the bottom of your mobile device.

Replying to a thread

Why not add to a discussion by replying to other’s threads? When a user replies to a thread, it will appear within the thread and on the user’s profile, where others will be able to reply to it. Note, that the user may not be able to see all the replies by other people (for example, if a private profile replies and the user does not follow them).

Our thoughts

We got our marketing team to share their initial thoughts on Threads and how businesses and charities can leverage the platform to successfully reach their target audience.

🗣️ Lee: “Businesses and charities will need to post to be seen, but they will also need to engage with relevant content to increase their visibility. You can’t just sit back and wait as you can only search by username handles at the minute

I don’t think it’s designed to be used like Twitter – hence the name. I think the idea is that it drives more conversation rather than just random posts, however, you can’t yet search for posts or use hashtags so if you like a thread you need to post to it to be able to find it again…and threads can go deep with many threads within them.”

🗣️ Amey: “At a glance, Threads is going to be one of those platforms where you not only need to be posting on the platform, but you also need to be engaging with people on the platform to increase discoverability. Whilst this may seem like it is copying another certain platform (*cough cough* Twitter), I think Threads shouldn’t be treated as a stand-alone brand/platform, it should be treated as an extension of Instagram.

With this connectivity, businesses and charities should consider how they can make these platforms work in tandem. For example, they could start a conversation on Threads and share this on their Instagram story to encourage others to get involved.

I think this is going to be a space where brands and individuals can build communities and have conversations, so when you’re thinking about the content you want to post on this platform consider these things – Am I just creating content to tell people why I’m the best rather than coming up with content that people will want to engage with? What topics/questions can I post that will help shape my future content strategy? How can I humanise my brand to show we understand our customers’ pain points and want to build relationships, rather than being a faceless company that pushes products and features?

It will be interesting to see the direction that this platform takes, hopefully, it will not turn toxic, much like Twitter has in the last 12 months.”

🗣️ Benas: “The way I see it – Threads is an extension of Instagram rather than a standalone platform (at least for now). The fact that new users can effortlessly follow all the same accounts from Instagram on Threads – has already created Thread profiles with hundreds of thousands of followers. And what other social media platform has broken the 50m user mark on the first day…?

So, businesses and charities on the platform can not only get a head start by essentially ‘importing’ their followers from Instagram, but the user base will likely grow even further in the next couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, Threads is still in its infancy – there is a clear lack of functionality, especially compared to Twitter. There are no hashtags, no trending page, the search function doesn’t always work, and quite shockingly – no direct messages.

In other words, this is the trial period – the app is straightforward and easy to start using – but we will likely see a consistent stream of new features over the coming months. Whilst I’m most excited about – how Meta is going to tackle paid advertising on the platform.

Overall, I think it’s a bit too early to be handing out advice on how to use Threads. My suggestion would be – look at marketing on Twitter as a rough guideline and experiment.”

Final thoughts

The consensus among the team is that Threads presents an opportunity for meaningful engagement and community-building. As the platform evolves, marketers should focus on creating content that sparks conversations, understanding their audience’s pain points, and humanising their brand.

It’s important to monitor the direction Threads takes and be prepared to adapt marketing strategies accordingly. For some brands, right now might not be the time to jump on this platform, but for others, this may be the perfect opportunity to get out there!

While it may be premature to provide definitive advice, experimenting with marketing approaches from Twitter and staying updated on new features can guide businesses and individuals in making the most of Threads.

As Threads continues to evolve, we look forward to seeing how Meta tackles paid advertising on the platform. Let’s embrace this new frontier of engaging conversations and shape the future of Threads together.

Are you looking for assistance with your social media marketing? Get in touch with our team today by emailing or calling 01332 232054.