It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s latest baby: the social media app that’s muscling its way into the space once dominated by Twitter (now rebranded to X). Threads launched in 100 countries on Wednesday, 5 July. Five million people were already reported to be signed up within just four hours.
Five days later, Threads had over 100 million sign-ups: a new record for user growth and one that’s attributed (at least in part) to the link between the app and Instagram. Once Threads is downloaded, you log in via your Instagram account and can easily import your Instagram profile and the accounts you follow.
So, what does Threads offer?
Right now, Threads is a text-based conversation app. Not X's identical twin, but definitely related. It allows users to post up to 500 characters at a time (far meatier than X’s 280 limit). You can also post links, reposts, photos, and videos. Videos can be longer than on X: up to five minutes versus two minutes and 20 seconds.
Currently, Threads doesn’t have direct messaging, hashtags, or keyword search functions, and it’s not available in a desktop format. This may create limitations for businesses – but bets are on for new functionalities to appear in the near future.
If your business is already on Instagram, Threads can be a text-led extension of everything you’re doing. Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said he sees the app as a space for friendly public conversation. Yes, that’s a dig at X, but Mosseri also highlights that the link between Threads and Instagram will potentially give the Meta app a wholly different feel to Musk’s X.
In an interview with the American tech website, The Verge, he discussed Threads as a new home-from-home for Instagram’s vibrant creator community:
- Offering an opportunity to innovate.
Despite Instagram’s recent growth through stories and messaging, it’s still primarily considered a photo-sharing feed app. So, Threads’ focus on text offers a new way for users to present content and create engagement.
- Enabling different forms of conversation.
On Instagram, people post, and others comment. The comments are “subordinate” to the original post. In contrast, on Threads, all comments have equal weighting. As this latter format is better at powering conversation and open exchange, Threads provides a way to build richer discussions.
So, what opportunities could Threads bring to your employee comms?
Despite its private profile option, Threads probably isn’t the best place to start posting internal comms (privacy concerns around data mean that the platform is not a place where you want to release sensitive or confidential information). But – if user engagement keeps growing – it may well have a role in employee engagement: opening up new opportunities for interacting conversationally with customers and employees.
Today’s savviest businesses know that how they communicate with customers and employees should be indistinguishable. There are many reasons for that, but chief among them is that this creates consistency and authenticity, drives trust and engagement, and encourages employees to become advocates for the business.
On Threads, as on X, this consistent tone is vital. The public nature of the space means that your posts (Threads) speak to both internal and external audiences. It’s potentially an opportunity to open up genuine and engaging discussions about everything from career opportunities to workplace culture.
Done well, this has the potential to boost your reputation, impress external and internal talent, reinforce your business values, and showcase you as a thought leader. But whether you want to have an impactful presence on Threads will largely depend on how this first iteration of the app evolves...
How Threads may evolve
Over time, it’s safe to assume that the functionality of Threads will increase and improve. It’s likely – given the attention that the app has received and the might of Meta – that user numbers will continue to grow. It’s also reasonable to assume that it will attract new types of consumers who will sign up to Instagram as a gateway to Threads.
What’s harder to assess is how the culture will develop. Mark Zuckerberg has talked about kindness within the Threads community, and the launch emphasises that the site is weighted towards ‘light’ topics – sports, fashion, music – rather than hard news and politics.
If that emphasis remains, it will clearly affect the tone of conversations on Threads. But it’s also highly possible that ‘edgier’ topics will also find their way onsite. The left-leaning, non-profit American media watchdog, Media Matters for America, is reporting that members of the far-right are already signing up and posting provocative content.
Content moderation on big social media sites is tricky. So, being on Threads – as on other social media sites – will require investment, planning and oversight. It may offer new avenues for engagement, particularly in terms of expressing culture, values, and career opportunities, but this can only be fully gauged by taking a monitor and test approach as you wait to see who the Threads audience becomes and what the site may offer. Testing and remaining open are vital!
Here at Caburn Hope, we’re already on Threads. For the latest research, trends, and thoughts on all things employee engagement and internal comms, plus who knows what else (we’re still testing), follow us at @caburnhope!