Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Sophie Strong: A thread of success for Zuckerberg

Sophie Strong is Managing Partner of Media Experience at PHD UK and NDA’s monthly columnist.

There are estimated to be over 128 social media platforms globally, with the average consumer bouncing between seven on any given day.  

Earlier this month, another was added to the list.  Threads, the latest in a suite of social media apps under Mark Zuckerberg’s META umbrella.  And, wow, it did it pack a punch on launch.  

Described by the team at Meta as a new app, built by the Instagram team, for sharing text updates and joining public conversations, it really does what it says on the tin. It is a space to tap into what is happening now.  Real-time issues, real-time passions, real-time conversation. Sounds a bit like Twitter, doesn’t it? However, unlike Twitter, Threads is currently an algorithmic timeline only.

Let’s get into the numbers. It was downloaded by 70 million people in the first 48 hours, 100+ million threads were shared within 24 hours, and it quickly became the number 1 app on the Apple app store. Controversially, it was also a top trending topic on its competitor’s platform, Twitter.

My personal opinion. I love it.  As a user, it feels incredibly positive. My feed is filled with text, image and video-based positivity, comedy and random facts, very much mirroring my Instagram self (although, it hasn’t quite picked up my love for pasta recipes as its Instagram counterpart has!). It is also worth noting that whilst the feed is great, there is no central content hub, which limits discovery. I suspect in time that this will evolve to more closely mirror the Instagram experience.

But what are the current opportunities on Threads for brands?

Putting it simply, getting involved. Celebrities and influencers – from Mr Beast to Shakira – already have. Likewise, social media managers have flocked to the platform, keeping busy as they define the tone of voice and creating presence for their brands on the new platform (everyone from McDonald’s to Space NK.)

With no ad solutions currently available, opportunities remain organic but the audience is there, and conversation is growing.  Striking whilst the iron is hot rather than ignoring the platform will ensure your brand has a clear role in owning the dialogue around its brand and creates a new way to converse with existing and potential consumers.

Positively, user safety has been taken into consideration from the outset with a number of clear moves from the team at META. These include:

  1. Ensuring everyone under 16 (and 18 in certain countries) are defaulted to a private profile from set-up
  2. Enabling positivity by adding in similar features to Instagram, including adding hidden words to filter out replies, the ability to unfollow/restrict/block profiles on Threads and migrating blocked Instagram accounts to Threads
  3. Enforcing Instagram’s community guidelines across Threads content and interactions. META has invested over $16bn in building up the people resource and technology needed to protect users and continue to focus on ensuring user safety
  4. Lastly, they are planning to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub, the open social networking protocol established by the World Wide Web Consortium – meaning, the app will align to the standards set out by the body responsible for defining open standards that power the modern web.

For brands today, testing organic presence is key.  Use today as a time to test and learn what works for your brand organically in this space. It is also an opportunity to explore the role influencers could play in this space, and how the app will fit into your broader digital strategy. And, whilst paid for advertising opportunities remain on the back burner for now, expect these to follow if the app is anything like its siblings in the META network.

My verdict a few weeks into launch? It seems a thread of victory for Zuckerberg and the team at META, and personally, I look forward to seeing how this platform evolves. May it remain as positive as it is today.