Threads, Instagram's Twitter Competitor Arrives

How Threads works, how creators can use it, future opportunties, and more.

Instagram

The wait is finally over. Instagram has launched Threads, its text-based Twitter competitor. The journey from the first reports about Threads (it was called P92 internally at that time) to its official release has been quite interesting, especially considering all the recent developments happening with Twitter.

It's been less than 24 hours since Threads went live, but the launch of it is one of the biggest stories in social media in a long time. In this special edition of the newsletter, I break down how it works and share my initial thoughts on the excitement surrounding it, its benefits, how creators can utilize it, the opportunities it presents for Meta, and more.

If you're currently on Threads, follow me here.

How it Works

Onboarding

Instagram

Once you download the app, you can log in using your Instagram account, which transfers your username and verification status. From there, you can customize your profile by either importing your bio and link from Instagram or creating new ones specifically for Threads. You have the option to set your account as public or private. You can also choose to follow the same accounts you follow on Instagram, select specific accounts, or discover and follow new ones.

The Feed

Instagram

The Threads feed consists of posts from people you follow and recommended content from creators you are not currently following. Posts can contain up to 500 characters, along with links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes long. Users can engage with your posts through likes, replies, reposts, and shares, including the option to share a post to Instagram or other platforms.

Accessibility and Safety

Instagram

Threads carries over accessibility and safety features from Instagram. It supports screen readers and provides AI-generated image descriptions for visually impaired users. Safety measures allow you to block, restrict, mute, and hide accounts, as well as control who can mention or reply to you and more.

Decentralization

Threads is incompatible with Activity Pub protocol at launch, but it says it will soon be compatible. By being compatible with it, users will be able to share, view, and interact with content across other apps that support Activity Pub, such as Mastodon, WordPress, Flipboard, and soon-to-be Tumblr.

Initial Reactions and Excitement

There is a lot of excitement surrounding Threads, and it feels different from previous app launches like Vero, which went from 150,000 users to over 3 million users within a day back in 2018, and more recently, ByteDance's Lemon8. This excitement is due to Instagram's established platform and is also heavily influenced by the recent chaos surrounding Elon Musk and Twitter. Twitter's recent actions, including mandatory login requirements and limiting tweet visibility based on Twitter Blue status, have led people to cheer on Meta, despite its controversial reputation. Could anyone predict this?

Who's Using Threads?

According to Zuck, Threads gained over 22 million users within the first 12 hours. The user base is diverse, ranging from big brands to creators, celebrities, meme accounts, and your friends and family. Since Threads is AI-powered, initial feeds for most users consist of posts from random accounts. While this is different from the personalized feeds we're used to, it brings a refreshing change as it gives people the ability to discover fresh content and faces. Feeds will become more personalized as Threads evolves and gets more data on what type of content people want based on their behavior.

Integration with Instagram

The biggest advantage of Threads right now is its integration with Instagram. Although it's a standalone app, joining and getting started is incredibly easy for Instagram users. By allowing people to follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram, Threads eliminates the need to build an audience from scratch, which is often a challenge with new apps. Creators can leverage their existing Instagram audience and gain momentum before they even start posting. This is particularly appealing to creators who already have a presence on Instagram.

Additionally, creators can grow their Instagram following through Threads. Profiles on Threads link back to their Instagram accounts, and content from Threads can be seamlessly shared to Instagram as In-Feed or Story Posts.

How Creators Can Use It

A New Way To Connect

Threads is similar to Twitter, so many creators will use it in a similar way. However, it also presents an opportunity for Instagram-native creators who don't typically use Twitter.

Threads provides them with a new way to connect with and reach audiences, especially through text-based content. Creators can share their thoughts on the latest happenings, amplify their Instagram content (including sponsored content with brands), engage with brands and potential partners, and provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of their work to their followers.

For example, Kristen Bousquet, who teaches creators how to run their businesses, plans to share the success stories of creators in her membership program, share tips and news for creators, offer insights into her projects, and establish connections with brand partners.

One particular use case for Threads is for creators who usually share screenshots of their tweets as Instagram posts. With the integration between Instagram and Threads, these creators can streamline their process and share their tweets more efficiently. Instagram likely considered this scenario, as sharing a Threads post generates an aesthetically pleasing graphic.

How I Plan on Using Threads

Personally, one challenge I face is deciding what to share on Threads. Typically, my content on Instagram and Twitter differs. On Instagram, I share my travel and hiking photography, while Twitter focuses on discussions related to the creator economy. The audiences I have on both platforms are different. However, since Threads is built off Instagram, many of my followers will expect travel and hiking content. So, for me, it's about finding a balance between meeting those expectations and using Threads similarly to Twitter. In the initial weeks, I plan to share both types of content and gauge what resonates with my audience while maintaining an active Twitter presence.

Experimentation

In general, experimentation is key, as Threads is a new platform without established strategies. While it may resemble Twitter, it's important to adapt and tweak content and approach to align with the algorithms and cultures of each platform. Just as we see with creating and repurposing content across different short-form video experiences, starting with a familiar strategy is a good foundation, but adjustments are often necessary.

Opportunities

With Threads, Meta has another app that can attract a large user base, eventually incorporating decentralized elements to meet the demand for greater user control over the apps they join.

Advertising Revenue

As with Meta's other apps, a strong user base opens up opportunities for monetization, particularly through advertising. Meta will likely approach ads cautiously, focusing on making Threads a valuable app for users before introducing ads. However, once ads are rolled out, they could become a significant revenue stream. Brands already advertising on Instagram and Facebook may find Threads attractive to expand their campaigns across other surfaces, and those looking to shift their advertising budget from Twitter can find a similar experience with greater brand safety.

Creator Monetization

For creators, it is expected that Threads will eventually offer opportunities for them to earn revenue. These opportunities may mirror what is available on Instagram and Facebook, such as subscriptions, paywalled content, and tipping. For example, creators that offer Instagram Subscriptions could have the ability to include Threads into the mix, which could make it appeal more to their followers.

Providing creators with more ways to make money across the Meta ecosystem supports Meta in its mission to become the best place for creators.

Standalone Apps

From a broader perspective, Threads aligns with a trend I've observed for several months—big tech companies investing in new, standalone apps outside their core offerings to reach new and existing audiences and cater to different content formats. Bytedance and Pinterest have all launched standalone apps like Lemon8 and Shuffles in the United States.

Concerns

Privacy

Despite its initial success, Threads may not be available in the European Union due to privacy concerns for a while. Like other big tech companies, Threads collects significant user data, including sensitive information, web activity, employment details, and location. The EU's strict privacy regulations have prompted Instagram to temporarily halt its launch in the region, as they work on finding the best approach to comply with these regulations.

Locked In Accounts

Another issue is that users currently cannot delete their Threads account without deleting their Instagram account. While there is an option to deactivate Threads and keep the Instagram account active, being locked into an account is never ideal. Hopefully, this feature will be addressed and changed in the future to provide users with more flexibility.

The Future of Threads

Threads' success will depend on how success is defined. Mark Zuckerberg aims to reach 1 billion users with Threads, which may seem ambitious but is not impossible given Instagram's massive user base. However, it's important to note that Threads is unlikely to replace Twitter entirely, but it will be the most valuable option. Twitter has a devoted following, and opinions about its changes during the Musk era vary. In the realm of social media, platforms come and go as trends and user preferences change. Not every social media platform needs to dominate the market; instead, they can coexist and serve different purposes for different people.

Thank You

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