If you work in marketing, there’s a good chance your leadership has asked you about Threads. If you work in social media marketing, then leadership has almost certainly asked for your early reaction to Meta’s Twitter clone.
Should we make an account? Should we cross-post from our top-performing social media channel? What’s our content strategy?
Whew. Take a deep breath, everybody.
If your leadership team asks you about the company Threads strategy, start here. Folks across your team — including you, boots-on-the-ground marketer — are probably asking all these questions. Or at least you all should, before you even consider fleshing out that Threads strategy.
What’s so special about Threads?
Built on open protocol ActivityPub, using Instagram account credentials, Threads is Meta’s answer to Twitter — a text-based platform. Due to its ability to set up auto-following (as in, you can auto-follow the same folks on Threads that you already do on Instagram) in the onboarding flow, it’s Instagram’s largest accounts (primarily celebrities and mainstream lifestyle influencers) who are the heaviest hitters so far in Threads.
Users need to download the Threads mobile app (no web/desktop version yet), but they use Single Sign-On with their Instagram account to get started. A seamless process that surely helped Threads grow to 100 million users in its first five days. For reference, it took five years for Twitter to grow to 100 million users, four-and-a-half years for Facebook, and two-and-a-half years for Instagram.
In second place for speed to 100 million users is ChatGPT, crossing that milestone only 64 days after launch.
And at the time of this blog post, the app crossed 150 million downloads (on July 16).
No performance marketing levers were pulled (at least, not to our knowledge at the time of this writing) for Threads’ launch. Instead, growth has largely been fueled by network effects, influencer partnerships (mainstream influencers, celebs and brands like Gary Vee, MKBHD, the three Kardashian sisters, Shakira, Netflix, Animal Planet, HGTV and more got early access to the app), and opportunistic timing. When Twitter began limiting views of tweets over the previous weekend, Meta hit back by launching Threads a week ahead of schedule. That genius move should be de rigueur in product marketing classes for the next decade.
Survey findings: What’s the current state of Threads and social media?
Before we dive into advice, perhaps it’s wise to ask: How much do marketers care about this?
So we asked. Amanda and Rand put together an informal 10-question survey and sent it out to our audiences across our social media channels and blog. 315 people took the survey. Here’s a breakdown of those respondents:
- 26% of survey respondents work for a B2B brand
- 23% are solo consultants
- 11% are agency/consultancy founders
- 10% are agency employees
- 7% are B2B founders
- 7% work for a B2C brand
- 5% work for a government, nonprofit, or educational institution
- 5% are creators, influencers or show hosts
- 4% are B2C or DTC founders
- .3% fall into the Other category: freelance writer or blogger, retiree, sole proprietor, recruiter, employee of a creator/media company, or run a community
Of the 315 total respondents, 78% claimed their personal Threads account, but only 33% claimed their company or brand’s Threads account. Here’s the breakdown of who claimed their personal accounts, filtered by B2C marketers, B2B marketers, and consultants:
Here’s who claimed their company or brand account:
And there isn’t much FOMO here! Only 14% of all respondents reported feeling pressure to create a Thread strategy. However, it looks like there’s more pressure felt among B2C marketers, 20% of whom feel like they need to create a strategy:
As for usage:
- 33% said they would use Threads for personal use
- 10% said they would use it exclusively on behalf of a company or brand
- 33% said they would use it for both personal and professional purposes
- 24% said neither — I suppose they’re not anticipating use Threads moving forward
Now… what’s the appetite for advertising? 24% anticipate they’ll probably or definitely advertise on Threads if and when Meta launches that offering. But 30% aren’t sure, and 45% probably or definitely won’t advertise on Threads.
Remember, these are mostly B2B marketers, so Threads’ perception as more akin to Instagram and TikTok (where B2C advertising rules) may be lowering the numbers. Taking a further step back, we asked respondents about what value they seek from social media platforms.
More survey findings: Perceived value across B2C, B2B, and consultants
We also asked marketers about the value they want from their social media usage, and the value they expect from the social networks we know. Since we had a diverse sample of B2C and B2B marketers and consultants (though still mostly B2B!), we thought this portion of the findings would be most interesting to see broken out by marketer type.
We asked respondents to rate the value of the below use cases for social media:
- Staying up to date with news I care about
- Skill building/learning
- Consuming entertainment/lifestyle content
- Connecting with professional peers/networking
- Connecting with friends
- Selling my products or services
- Getting content ideas or marketing inspiration
Core to people’s usage? Networking was the top use case, followed closely by staying up to date with news.
Selling products or services ranked low on everyone’s list, but was most valuable among consultants. And of the three groups, it’s B2B marketers who most value following friends on social media.
Asked on a scale from 1 (I don’t use social media for this) to 5 (This is core to my social media usage)
Asked how much value they expect these networks to bring (personally and professionally) in the year ahead…
Respondents indicated they see little to no value in Snapchat and Bluesky. They see a little more value in Mastodon and Pinterest. They indicated the most value in LinkedIn and YouTube, followed by Instagram. It’s interesting to see that already, folks see Threads as somewhat equally valuable to slightly more valuable as Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.
Finally, if we think about Threads vs. Twitter as head-to-head competitors, we also asked users if they think either of these will be top 5 social platforms in 3 years:
45% said Threads will probably or definitely be a top 5 social platform. Only 24% think the same of Twitter.
Initial takeaways: As a startup marketer, what’s my read on these findings? Of course, this is just a temperature check. But a 315-person sample size isn’t a bad one. I think it’s interesting that more teams haven’t claimed their company Threads accounts, though it makes sense if you consider there isn’t a rush to squat on your handle as it’s already reserved. I’m surprised that the appetite for advertising is as low as it is — on Instagram, I’m targeted pretty frequently for B2B ads, so my light hypothesis was that there would be many B2B marketers who see an extension of the Meta ad ecosystem as a no-brainer. Personally, I’m comfortable not having a current Threads content strategy and excited to find ways to test new types of content in a hopefully-engaged-but-not-massive-and-thus-safe audience.
What are the caveats of Threads?
We’re only two weeks into Threads’ existence. We don’t know that the 150 million+ users will stick around. According to marketing intelligence firm Sensor Tower late last week, Threads’ daily active users declined on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 11 and 12, 6-7 days after launch) — down around 20% from Saturday. Time spent was also down by 50%, from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.
Threads also doesn’t have an ad network, let alone analytics. So if your CMO is asking you for a full-fledged strategy (and hopefully they’re not!), it’s entirely fair to take a reluctant stance because there aren’t even basic measurement tools, let alone full-scale attribution. Plus…
Is your target audience even on Threads?
Is there reason to believe your audience is using Threads? Given the platform’s newness and unavailable API, the only data points we have are the gross numbers (150 million users, remember?) and Twitter’s declining visits, per Cloudflare Co-Founder and CEO Matthew Prince:
The 150-million number alone suggests to me that your audience is probably at least starting to lurk on Threads. But…
Does your audience care about finding you on Threads?
“Gee, I can’t wait to see <insert name of mobile app, consumer packaged good, or B2B company> on this new social media platform!” said no one ever. While it might be FOMO-inducing to see brands like Cinnabon or Wendy’s goofing around with meme-like tweets and jokes — and actually getting solid engagement — most of us don’t have their mainstream reach. And those posts might be fun for a couple laughs but ultimately, as Amanda Hoover at Wired points out, brands aren’t what inspire users to keep coming back to a social network.
What’s the rush? It certainly wouldn’t hurt to claim your account, set up your profile, and publish an inaugural post or two. Unless there’s good reason to believe your die-hard fans are looking for your presence, a listen-and-learn approach might be the safest path for now. It’s a good time to see how folks in your target audience are using Threads, what they’re talking about, and what they’re engaging with.
Do you even have the bandwidth?
If you’re asking your team to jump on Threads and start experimenting — make sure you’re letting something else fall to the wayside. Or if it’s your thumbs behind the Threads app, it’s entirely fair to discuss priorities with your manager. It’s also worth thinking about the past and current value you’re getting out of Twitter.
Even if Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that “[Threads’] goal isn’t to replace Twitter,” it’s hard not to see both text-based platforms as competitors to each other. And if we’re talking about text-based platforms, then Mastodon and Bluesky might not be out of the running yet.
Take a closer look at the state of your Twitter account: Are impressions and engagement dropping? Have you previously seen Twitter as a source of business? If your answer to both of these questions is yes, and considering Twitter overall usage decline, it’s probably worth taking a closer look and developing a content testing strategy for Threads, and perhaps even Mastodon and Bluesky. Consider keeping the lights on on Twitter, and carving out a few minutes per day to engage on the emerging competing platforms.
If you proceed with Threads, start here…
You might as well pull out your Social Media 101 rule book. Many of the best practices probably still apply.
Optimize your bio. You may be able to copy and paste from your Instagram or Twitter bio. Since Threads is a new-to-everyone platform, consider adding a line about what type of content users can expect from you. Some questions to ask yourself:
- What type of value can users expect from you?
- How might your Threads posts differ or be an extension from your Instagram content?
- Are you actually going to use Threads as a Twitter replacement? If so, what did people see from you on Twitter and how would you explain that to a Threads user?
Publish your inaugural post. Introduce yourself. What can new followers expect from you? And can you incentivize your existing follower base to follow and engage with you? You may want to try asking a question and cross-posting the Threads post to your Instagram account.
Start with your greatest hits. You’ve been creating all that great content for a while now. You might as well leverage the highest-performing content. Audit your top performing social media content over the past year or so. Consider how that can be repurposed into a text-first format. For instance, a top-performing Reel might be good source content for a thread on Threads, with images to support the text. Or a LinkedIn carousel might be able to be broken up into a couple of standalone Threads posts. Or start even simpler with that, and copy and paste prior top tweets into your Threads account. After all…
New network + no metrics = experimentation FTW
With a constantly-changing algorithm in an app that’s clearly a work in progress — as I type this, there isn’t yet a Following feed, Edit button, post search, hashtags, or web presence, although those are features that are in the near-term roadmap — this might be a phenomenal time to try out more unique types of content, and possibly even some influencer/celeb bait (if you’re B2C or a bigger brand name).
For the first week or so, it appeared that content distribution via links were pushed to the bottom of users’ feeds, and that the algorithm prefers text posts and image posts. Though at the time of this writing, I started seeing lots more posts with links from accounts I don’t follow pushed into my feed. What’s also notable is that not all of these accounts have massive followings.
But we’ll see. If nothing else, it’s clear the Threads team is constantly updating the algorithm. I still have a feeling that leading with Zero-Click content will end up proving crucial.
So don’t forget that link in bio.