Threads: Is It Worth It Yet?

Threads: Is It Worth It Yet?



By now, we all know that drastic changes on X created a primordial rift in the social media continuum. New apps emerged but reminded many of the halcyon days of social media, when posting was lighthearted and fun. Threads and Bluesky have both been described as reiterations of Twitter’s early days, while Mastodon reminds some of the bulletin board systems of the ‘80s. Ian Bogost and Charlie Warzel from the Atlantic called Threads “Zombie Twitter,” and went on to say, “Social media cannot become good again, because we will not let it evolve. It can merely live and die over and over, like a zombie.” 

This grim view of the current state of social media is held by many, as market fragmentation created significant challenges for brands using text-based (also referred to as conversational) marketing apps. As of April 2024, Threads is the only recently-emerged text-based app that poses significant future risk to X. According to Business Insider

“So far in April, Threads has averaged an estimated 28 million daily active users, so people who have opened the app at least once in a 24-hour period […] X has averaged 22 million DAUs, a usage rate that’s 21% lower than Threads.” 

While this spike was only among U.S. users, it’s important to note that as of April, Threads had only existed for nine months, compared to X’s (formerly Twitter’s) 18 years.

All of the above point to Threads’ future success as an app, but is it worth it to digital marketers yet? The answer is… Maybe. 

Mark Zuckerberg envisions Threads as a more positive “public conversations” app and hopes to someday see 1 billion users, a goal X has yet to accomplish, he noted. An ad exec at Meta spoke anonymously to Digiday, stating, “Since our priority is to build consumer value first and foremost, there are no ads or monetization features currently on Threads. At this time, we encourage businesses to experiment with Threads as part of their organic social strategy where it makes sense.” The same article states that “The tech platform recently told ad execs that they will be able to buy ads on its X-rival, text-based platform as early as the second half of this year,” but this has not been confirmed outside of Digiday’s reporting.

Presuming the report is correct, it makes sense for U.S. ad execs to plan what an advertising campaign on Threads might look like. One major brand advantage on Threads is that “Instagram handles that haven’t yet created a Threads account are marked as ‘pending’ and will be automatically followed once they join Threads. With the ‘follow all’ button so accessible during sign-up, brands have an audience of followers from Instagram already waiting on Threads.” Since Threads is a public conversations app, brands need to be wary not to oversell and thus alienate community users. Additionally, threading (see what we did there?) the needle between organic and paid strategy will be crucial in the early stages of advertising and may draw community backlash until ads are more commonplace. 

In essence, once advertising launches on Threads, brands that haven’t already built an organic presence before they begin advertising will likely be seen as predatory rather than part of the community. To that end, any brand considering a future on Threads must establish a clear organic strategy before contemplating an advertising campaign.

For brands not already on Threads, there are four things to consider before joining: 
1: Is the brand community established on the app?
2: Does Threads make sense for the brand?
3: Does the rate of user growth on the app project sustainable potential ROI? 
4: What is the predicted future growth for Threads, and will it keep pace with other established brand platforms?

Answering these questions is crucial when deciding if Threads is worth it to your brand. Another serious consideration is what already-planned initiatives will meet your needs. While Mastodon and Bluesky don’t yet have DMs, because Threads connects to Instagram, users can click on the profile name of any user on Threads and be directed to that user’s Instagram account, where they can send DMs. Meta plans to make this easier by providing a “Message” button at the top of Threads profiles, but the messages will still be sent through  Instagram inboxes. All the same, for brands that utilize DMs to respond privately to consumers, this step is crucial for success on the app. 

Essential to enterprise-level and many other brands, API capabilities on third-party platforms are now available on Threads. In a blog post on the Meta website, Jesse Chen, an engineer working on Threads, wrote, “We believe [the API] will enable creators, developers and brands to build their own unique integrations, manage their Threads presence at scale, and easily share inspiring content with their communities.“ About the API, Ryan Barretto, President, Sprout Social said, 

We were excited to join the Threads API Beta, where we collaborated closely with the Meta product teams on the development and implementation of the Threads API. As a result of our partnership, we enabled Threads for all 30,000+ Sprout Social customers on day one; and we’re thrilled to give our customers the platform to continue to grow their business and build genuine connections on Threads. 

So, is Threads worth it yet? For brands that have succeeded on conversational-based apps in the past, yes, but only if most of the brand community found their way to Threads after splitting from X. Also, yes for brands that do well in primarily text-based communities and are willing to put in the time and effort to build new communities on Threads. Other brands may consider building out the ol’ organic strategy and testing the waters before digging too deeply into the pockets of an already planned marketing budget. 

While Threads has managed to topple X in U.S.-based DAU, X still has a death grip on worldwide users, with around 121 million according to Apptopia analysis (considerably lower than X’s reported 200 to 250 million DAU, but unconfirmable without an Apptopia account). Brands with more U.S.-established communities may do well on Threads, while brands with larger worldwide communities may consider waiting a little longer.

Overall, Threads is showing steady growth, promising new initiatives, and, for now at least, the enjoyment of a more positive community. Possibly more fun, though, will be seeing if Mark Zuckerberg’s promise to topple X is hutzpah or hubris. If for no other reason than to watch the much-touted cage match between The Zuck and Musk take place online rather than on a mat, Threads might definitely be worth it.

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