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  • Victoria K. Sicaras

A primer on Threads—The new kid in social media

On July 5, Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Threads, a social media app built by Meta’s Instagram team. Within 24 hours, more than 30 million people and organizations had signed up and were posting (or “threading”), including celebrities, name brands, media outlets and businesses. These first few days on the app have been filled with mostly fun, informal posts—oops, threads—by individuals and

high-profile entities alike celebrating their move to Threads. By the morning of July 10, Zuckerberg reported more than 100 million sign ups.


To help you decide whether your organization’s social media team should create a presence on this new platform, we’ve compiled key information below.


What is Threads?

Threads is designed to be the text-based counterpart to the image-based Instagram. “Creators” and other Instagram users are required to include an image or video in their Instagram posts, but they can now invite their audiences to follow them on Threads to share messages sans graphics.


That doesn’t mean users cannot post photos or videos on Threads. Posts (threads) can include links, photos and videos up to five minutes in length. When posting to Threads, photos and videos won’t show up in your Instagram account as posts or videos (Reels), and when you share Instagram photos and Reels on Threads, they will show up as links.


Threads is only accessible via app

Currently, users cannot access Threads from a desktop or laptop; it is only available for iOS and Android. If you go to the Threads.net website, you will find a QR code to scan with your smartphone to download the app. Or go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download it to your device.


Since the platform is so new, social media management services like Sprout Social and Hootsuite do not have options to schedule Threads through their platforms. However, both entities are actively posting, or threading! The AOE Team will monitor these platforms for updates to their services.


You need Instagram to join

To sign up, users must have an Instagram account. The app is built on top of Instagram, so you will need to be logged into Instagram to sign up and log in. Signing up is easy. Your

Instagram username and verification will carry over, with the option to customize your profile specifically for Threads. Users can choose to make their account private or open, and to automatically follow the same accounts they do on Instagram (or just select a few). This also means social media marketers may have to rebuild some or all of their audience if their Instagram followers did not select the follow option in Threads.


In the works: compatibility with interoperable networks

Zuckerberg says Meta is working toward making Threads compatible with open, interoperable social networks. To do this, Meta has committed to an industry protocol called ActivityPub. If successful, it could be a game-changer for digital and social media marketing.


“Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks,” said Zuckerberg in a post. “If you have a public profile on Threads, this means your posts would be accessible from other apps, allowing you to reach new people with no added effort.”


The Threads format is similar to Twitter

The Washington Post called Threads a clone of Twitter that is designed to lure Twitter users who are disappointed in changes made by the platform. (And, yes, WaPo appears to be happily “threading” away!)


Like Twitter, Threads is primarily oriented around real-time, public text conversations. Posts (aka threads) are limited to 500 characters. Users can mention other people by using the @ symbol in front of their username and can reply to someone else’s posts. They also can like, reply, repost or quote a thread by clicking a button.


Your feed on Threads includes posts by people you follow, and “recommended” content from people and brands you don’t. The recommended content is algorithmically generated. There is no clear home screen a la Facebook and Instagram, and there is no current way to make Threads show only the posts from accounts you follow or to order your feed chronologically, so using the platform may feel a bit chaotic. However, a follower-only list and chronological feed options may come in the future. In fact, expect new features to be added as the platform gains its footing and evolves.


Unlike Twitter, Threads offers a “safe” environment

According to Zuckerberg, Threads was built with tools to enable “positive, productive conversations.” Users can control who can mention them and limit replies to their threads to only those they follow or mentioned in the thread. As with Instagram, users can add hidden words to filter out replies that contain specific words. Unfollowing, blocking, restricting or reporting a profile can be done by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts a user blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads.


Instagram’s Community Guidelines also will be enforced on content and interactions in the app. That means Threads users aren’t supposed to be able to praise terrorist or hate groups, buy firearms or make threats against people or groups.


Users under 16 are automatically defaulted into a private account, which means the only people who can reply to their threads are those they follow or mention in their post.


No advertising options—yet

At launch, Threads has no advertising options for marketers. We anticipate this may change since Meta makes the vast majority of its revenue from tracking what users do online and using that data to target them with ads.


Don’t delete your Threads account!

Once signed up, users can only delete their Threads account by deleting their entire Instagram account. You can, however, deactivate your Threads account. Choose your deactivation/delete options carefully!


Two of the primary rules of social media marketing is to choose the platforms your target audiences are using and try to have fun with social posts. While it is too early to determine user demographics or check analytics, now is a good time to sign up and look around. The AOE Team is here to help organizations navigate the changing social media landscape. Contact us today!

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