PMG Digital Made for Humans

Brand Thrill or Brands, Chill? A Content Strategist's Perspective on Threads

August 3, 2023 | 4 min read

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Joe Flowers

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PMG's Joe Flowers offers his expert take on the initial hype surrounding the new social app Threads, what it means for the future of Twitter, and how brands can find success by leveraging the platform in its early days.
In this article,
  • Is Threads the end of Twitter as we know it?
  • Strategic Recommendations for Brands Activating on Threads

“Another one?!” 

This is the cynical knee-jerk reaction that often comes from a new social platform launching. After nearly two decades in this industry, I’ve seen—and crafted—my fair share of social media channel launch strategies, from mainstays like Instagram and TikTok to fleeting fancies including Path and Periscope. And with all of them, the first question I almost always get from brands is, “What do we do?” As a general rule of proper brand, PR, and legal protections, my first recommendation is always: “Lock in your handle.” My second piece of advice, regardless of how excited or how ‘blah’ the industry, the news, and the end users are, is to just…wait.

Threads has been no different. I’ve waited, watched, tested, and watched again so I could be ready to provide my thoughts on what this new channel could do for brand-to-human connection.

When it dropped, the thrill was around a new channel, a “Twitter Killer” that was going to upend the current slate of social apps occupying our time. It had a few key things going for it to make it hype-worthy as well. It had a familiar user experience and a connection to Meta’s other platforms to simplify content sharing and bolster your following (just the click of a button to follow all of your Instagram followers). 

Most frequently overlooked in its meteoric adoption rate, however, is the subtle gamification of joining. Upon claiming your handle, Meta automatically puts your Threads sign-up number in your Instagram profile to show how fast you were to sign-up—a sort of status symbol of early adoption. Knowing what place in line you were in seemed to encourage more people to sign up even if they had never shared content before on any social media platform (I’m talking to you, Dad).

When it dropped, the thrill was around a new channel, a 'Twitter Killer' that was going to upend the current slate of social apps occupying our time.

The initial hype was followed by absurd stats void of any context around how fast Threads reached 100 million users. But, when you have an app with a billion+ users and push a notification to all of them to claim (not create) their Threads handle, is it really as impressive? A ten percent return on any conversion is impressive, but let’s be honest about how it’s happening.

Since those first five days, though, Threads news has been far more chill. According to Similarweb, performance on the platform has not had the staying power it was expected to have. Threads had a peak of 45 million daily active users on July 6, but that number dropped to 28 million on July 13, approximately 38 percent lower. Users averaged 20 min/session on Threads on July 7, but by July 11, they would spend just around five minutes on the new social app. A 75 percent reduction in usage in four days.

The ‘Twitter habit’ Threads was hoping to immediately capitalize on hasn’t quite panned out, but habits take time to break or adapt. Threads is here—at least for now—but its role in a brand ecosystem is still being determined mostly by how brands will find success leveraging the platform. I’m not ready to say it’s a game changer, but there are several opportunities for brands willing to jump into the latest social media platform.

For many brands, their Twitter voice was shaped over time by the needs of their customer. Often walking a line between PR microphone, customer service tool, and irreverent personality. I’ve seen many brands eager to jump on Threads early to simply duplicate their tweets, but Threads isn’t Twitter. It’s full of non-Twitter users, a more common friend-to-friend follower ratio, and there’s no set expectation for how brands show up on the channel. It offers an interesting opportunity to workshop a voice or personality that better fits your brand and to explore how that voice intersects with a brand’s presence on Facebook and Instagram.

I’ve seen many brands eager to jump on Threads early to simply duplicate their tweets, but Threads isn’t Twitter.

The ecosystems on Threads are smaller and more intimate. For brands, this closeness lends itself to having more authentic conversations with their audiences to learn more about what they expect. Build a feedback loop, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and listen.

The Threads feed is filled with content from followed accounts and recommended follows. Looking at the content currently on the platform gives you an opportunity to reverse-engineer how Threads is classifying accounts by interests and affinity segments. Getting a handle on how a brand account is being classified can give insight into new audiences potentially worth considering in a broader messaging strategy. 

Only time will tell what the future holds for Threads as new features are released, and brands, creators, and everyday users explore the potential of a new text-based social media experience. By capitalizing on the newness of the platform with experimentation, brands can take advantage of this opportunity to expand their communications strategy and engage with audiences in new, authentic ways, delivering new experiences that may surprise even the most experienced and skeptical content strategist among us in the industry.