When Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, launched Threads in July 2023, hopes rose among consumers, brands and other users of X. Since Elon Musk’s takeover, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter had become beset with problems, such as constant outages, unpopular updates, layoffs and the looming threat of bankruptcy.
These problems led to a mass exodus of both users and advertisers. Suffice it to say that the climate was perfect for a contender; a new social media platform that does everything X does, but better.
The answer seemed to lie in Threads. The app was viewed as a better alternative to X at launch, and users immediately flocked to it. Within its first five days, the app registered over 100 million new sign-ups, taking the record for the fastest-growing user base away from ChatGPT.
It seems as if X has met its match. Or has it?
In this article, we dive deep into the Threads app, what makes it different (or better) than Twitter and whether it’s worth building an audience for your brand on the platform at this stage in the game.
Table of Contents:
What Is Threads?
Billed by Meta as “a new way to share with text,” Threads is a new social media platform built by the Instagram team. It was designed to allow users to share not just text but also photos, videos and links, similar to X. The goal of the social network app, per Meta, is to facilitate “sharing and joining public conversations.”
Much of the app’s immediate success can be attributed to two things:
1. Disgruntled X users were looking for an alternative, and Threads was launched at a time when X had made several unpopular changes.
2. Threads is linked to Instagram, which has over 1 billion monthly active users. This has made it extremely easy to sign up for Threads; users only have to log in using their Instagram accounts.
Initially available only on iOS and Android mobile devices, this new social media platform can now be accessed via the web. This update made many of its users happy, as the previous app-centric experience made posting on the Meta Threads app inconvenient.
Like Twitter users, Threads users typically log on from time to time throughout the day while at their desks in front of their computers. With the web app, Threads users no longer have to switch to and from devices.
However, not all Threads’ features are available on the web app. Fortunately, this is temporary: The Threads by Instagram team promises that this is only an early version and that they will address feature gaps and further improve the app’s functionality soon.
Is Threads by Instagram a Twitter Competitor?
The Thread app is often described as a “Twitter rival” and “Twitter competitor” because it has many similarities to X, both visually and functionally, but promises stricter rules to prevent challenges that X has historically struggled with, such as false news and toxicity.
On his Threads account, Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, has stated that their focus is on “kindness and making this a friendly place.” The target audience for Threads, per Mosseri, is “communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter” and “communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter.”
Positivity and stress-free interactions are both the goal for Threads and its primary differentiator.
Features that support this goal include:
• An algorithm that doesn’t promote news or political content
• The ability to control who can reply to or mention you
• An option to filter out replies that contain specific words (similar to Instagram)
• Blocking a profile on Threads automatically blocks it on Instagram as well
So, while Threads is viewed as a Twitter rival, it’s not meant to completely replace it since a large number of users are on X because of the ability to engage in heated debates and post controversial opinions on news and politics.
Apart from its aim to be a “positive vibes only” conversation app that’s an online version of a “public square,” Meta Threads differentiates itself from X in other ways.
Threads by Instagram vs. X: Feature Comparison
One example is the character limit. On X, basic users can tweet posts up to 280 characters long, including spaces, while X Premium (formerly Twitter Blue) users enjoy a 25,000-character count limit. Meanwhile, Threads allows users to upload posts up to 400 characters long.
Additionally, posts on the Threads app can be made in carousel format. Users can upload up to 10 images or videos. On the other hand, X also has carousel options for organic and paid, but it only allows users to share up to six items per post.
What’s more, thanks to Thread’s integration with Instagram, users of this Twitter rival can:
• Share a post on their Instagram story.
• Post other people’s posts on their feed.
• Send posts via Instagram DM.
Another significant difference is that Threads does not support hashtags. However, Mosseri stated on his Threads account that this feature is on the way, as are:
• Graph Syncing
• Fediverse Support
As mentioned, users must log in using their Instagram accounts to sign up for Meta Threads. Because Threads is linked to Instagram, it displays the Instagram username as the default handle. Currently, there is no option to change Threads handles; those who wish to do so must also change their Instagram username.
However, for companies that use social media for marketing, two of the most important differences between Threads and X are:
Meta Is Blocking European Users From Accessing Threads, Even Through VPN
Brands headquartered in the EU or targeting audiences in European countries may not find it practical to include Threads in their social media engagement strategy as of yet. However, Threads may still find its way to the EU. According to a statement they gave TechCrunch, “Europe continues to be an incredibly important market for Meta, and we hope to make Threads available here in the future.”
There Is No Option To Advertise on Threads
At least, none as of writing. However, this will likely change soon, as Meta’s companies rely on advertising for revenue. Currently, brands on Threads are leveraging the conversation app to do just that – start and engage in discussions with followers.
Social media engagement ideas on Threads are aligned with the social network app’s desire to be a positive, friendly space. For instance, Marvel Entertainment regularly features Marvel fans, posts behind-the-scenes clips from its franchises and uploads comics strip. This is in contrast to what the company posts on other platforms, mostly reposts from its many franchises’ official Facebook and Instagram pages.
Another example is Coca-Cola, which has to post jokes and engage with its followers more often than it does on X and other platforms.
Meanwhile, other brands’ social media engagement ideas include posting about humor (see Wendy’s, MoonPie), giving away products to followers and participating in brand-on-brand conversations.
Organic is the only option at the moment, but it’s nonetheless very effective as a social media engagement strategy. Organic posts from these and other businesses are raking in likes, comments and reposts.
Should Businesses Use Threads?
When convincing consumers to switch from your competitor, you must show that your product is superior. Has Meta managed this with the Threads social network app? Well, the jury is still out.
The challenges mentioned earlier, from Threads’ barebones interface to regulatory concerns, may give brands and marketers pause. Another concern that has caused worry among brands and social media marketing consultants alike is the post-launch slump: Engagement on Threads has fallen to 82% from launch. However, it may still recover, thanks to the new web app as well as the promise of more features and a better user experience to come.
While it’s too early to tell whether Threads will rake in more users and increase social media engagement rates, it’s still worthwhile for companies that use social media for marketing to establish a presence on the app. And, current performance notwithstanding, Threads is likely here to stay – t’s owned by Meta, which has deep pockets and the determination to create a better, friendlier alternative to Twitter.
Simply put, incorporating Threads into your social media engagement strategy and your digital marketing efforts is a strategic move that gets you ahead of the game.
By familiarizing themselves with the conversation app’s features and building their audience as early as now, brands reap the following benefits:
Opportunities To Reach a Broad Audience:
The platform comes with a built-in audience: Instagram users. What’s more, it is not yet as saturated by businesses as X and other social networks. Less competition means more opportunities to establish a strong presence and capture the attention of potential customers.
According to a study, 64% of consumers want brands to communicate with them. What’s more, the more personal nature of Threads allows brands to strike up and maintain conversations with their followers in a more genuine way.
Companies that use social media for marketing can easily cross-post from Threads to Instagram, helping them amplify their messaging and strengthen brand recognition.
Research shows that Internet users want brand authenticity, and businesses that meet this demand benefit from a more positive consumer perception and the increased trust of their target audiences.
“Authenticity for an individual or brand is important when it comes to social media,” said Alyssa Tear, Senior Manager of Organic Social Media at Thrive. “Being authentic through your brand’s social media efforts can even increase your ROI!“
Threads, with its focus on communities and conversation as well as its interactive nature, allows businesses to participate in discussions, reply to followers and showcase their personality through posts. This helps brands strengthen relationships between brands and their audiences, showcase their authenticity and increase their social media engagement rates.
Brands that plan on jumping to Threads (or at least exploring it while keeping their X profiles) but aren’t sure how to fully leverage the app should consider partnering with a social media marketing consultant.
As with any social network app, a data-driven approach and a well-defined strategy are crucial in achieving success on Threads. Savvy social media marketing consultants see the potential in Threads and are up to date on the best ways to gain followers and increase social media engagement rates for brands.
Stay Ahead of the Game With the Help of Thrive’s Social Media Marketing Consultants
At Thrive Internet Marketing Agency, we are continuously exploring new ways – and new platforms – to help our clients achieve their digital marketing goals. We leverage data to create a strategy that empowers businesses to strengthen their online presence, build their brand equity and increase social media engagement rates for profitable and sustainable results.
To speak to a Thrive social media marketing consultant, contact us at 866-434-4748. And, if you need more ideas on leveraging social media to boost your business, you can find inspiration in our case studies and success stories.