Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Threads: take the plunge or watch and wait?

by Hannah Walley, head of Media UK and Ireland at Kantar

Threads has exploded onto the social media scene.  Within a matter of days it amassed a following of more than 100 million users, making it the fastest-growing app of all time.  Meanwhile Twitter has announced a prominent and potentially high risk rebrand to X – ripping up its old identity and jettisoning years of hard-earned brand equity in the process.  Eyebrows have certainly been raised. 

Amid this flux, marketers will be wondering to what extent they should hitch their brands to Threads’ wagon and create an account. Is it really the next big thing?  

It’s still too early to say for certain whether Threads will embed itself in consumers’ lives in the same way as TikTok, Instagram or Twitter.  After the initial tidal wave of user sign ups, daily activity on the platform has now levelled out.  The full extent of opportunities for brands is also yet to be revealed, including paid-for ad functionality.  It’s safe to say, however, that marketers can’t ignore Threads.  No doubt they will be getting asked by boardroom teams what businesses’ level of engagement with it should be.  Here’s what they need to think about to determine the right approach for their brand. 

Trying new things

The first question for marketers of course has to be will Threads help them reach their target audiences?  With the platforms still in its infancy, data on user profiles is relatively limited at this point although it will track Instagram trends to some degree.  In any case Threads’ followship is likely to keep evolving.  That doesn’t mean, however, that brands can’t start building up their knowledge.

Now is the opportunity to explore the platform, testing and learning with organic content, getting to know the algorithm, to see what kind of content sticks and whether it makes the right commercial impact.  Younger or less well-known brands in particular might find Threads gives them a chance to establish themselves in a less crowded space. 

Keep it on brand

That experimentation will mean different things for different brands.  For example Nike has gone in all guns blazing, posting a mix of images, photos and memes multiple times a day about the FIFA Women’s World Cup, keeping its messaging central to its content.  Boots meanwhile is taking a light-hearted (and often Barbie-themed) approach.

This illustrates an important point – whatever level of involvement marketers decide to adopt, they must ensure that activity is true to and fits with what consumers expect from their brand.  In some cases this can be mutually reinforcing.  If a brand wants to be seen as innovative, exciting and with it, then they probably need to be on Threads.  By dint of being on there, they are also reminding consumers that they are relevant and interesting too.   

Part of a new chapter

Whatever happens next with Threads, it’s certainly going to be a fascinating ride.  The app and its users will soon start to develop their own culture, language and way of doing things.  What’s different with this period of evolution is that brands have an opportunity to get involved right from day one and to shape what Threads looks and feels like.  Twitter and Facebook were founded well before digital marketing teams were ubiquitous.  Threads on the other hand will be coming of age in a very different world.  However, Threads and the brands on it will need to tread carefully.  An overly corporate or commercial feel could put users off – our data shows that brands’ advertising needs to feel part of the experience, and not interrupt it, to best engage consumers.  Get it wrong and this story could unravel before it’s even really begun.