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Question of the week

Pulling At Threads: Will The Twitter Rival Become The Next Big Playground for Brands?

Who's winning the Musk vs Zuckerberg social-media smackdown? We ask industry experts for their opinions

By Conor Nichols

In just five days since its launch on July 5, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Threads app reached 100 million sign-ups. By contrast, Elon Musk’s Twitter has over 250 million daily users and Instagram took a week to hit 100,000 users when it originally launched in 2010. Widely dubbed as a ‘Twitter Killer’, Threads not only intends to rival Twitter as a conversation app but also aims to position itself as a "positive’"counterpart. And brands appear to be rushing in.

“Threads are better with a Swoosh ,” read Nike’s first effort. In the UK, the traditional big four supermarkets, as well as Aldi and Lidl, M&S, Waitrose, Iceland, Ocado and Co-op have all signed up to Threads. Tesco posted a photo of a catwalk model wearing a shopping bag, captioned: “When your boss asked you to launch Tesco Threads but you misunderstood the assignment.” Amazon wrote the on Threads: “You can buy thread on Amazon.”

Since Elon Musk’s £38 billion takeover in October last year, Twitter has been plagued with controversy - from the reinstatement of questionable accounts to damaging brand impersonations. As a result, ad revenue has plummeted and while the hire of advertising veteran Linda Yaccarino seeks to salvage this problem, Threads may just be the final nail in the coffin. At the launch of Threads, Mark Zuckerberg said, “We are definitely focusing on kindness and making this a friendly place.”

The app is linked to Meta’s Instagram and gives new users, who have an Instagram account, the chance to fill their feed with Threads users they already follow on Instagram. Instagram boss Adam Mosseri further outlined the company's vision when he said last week that while politics and "hard news" would "inevitably" show up on Threads, the company wouldn't do "anything to encourage those verticals."

Is this what brands had been waiting for? Will the new Meta creation prove to be an effective advertising tool? We ask a host of industry experts for their take.

Nicky Palamarczuk, head of social and influence and Hannah Mahony, social and influence director at VCCP

In one night, Threads, the Twitter rival from Meta, exploded with over 10 million downloads. The vibe on Threads so far is buzzy, happy, slightly euphoric with (as expected) lots of Twitter memes. Already big brands like Netflix, Mcdonald's and VCCP’s Virgin Media O2 are on there. So far there’s no trolls, no bots, just a lot of memes.

Why are consumers moving? The introduction of consumer costs to Twitter and its uncertain accessibility to features has left users unwilling to invest time and money into the platform. Not to mention the exodus of users, brands and personalities that once made the platform a unique platform to partake in. Leading platforms are adding new features, rather than pay-walling them.

So what does it mean for brands? Where Twitter for many brands has become functional and customer service driven, Threads poses the opportunity once more for fresh, free conversation and organic content. We see brands inviting their Instagram followers to join them for re-posts, cultural commentary and quips that a beautifully curated feed might not have allowed or that haters would have jumped on.

Whether it lasts, is still uncertain but we haven’t seen a platform launch have so much take up, so quickly ever before. We are excited.

Will Reddihough, digital strategy director, Total Media

Threads has had a successful first week, positioning itself as a promising option for brands in the future. Its launch timing, following Twitter's content limitations, has resulted in a large user base right from the start. Creating an account using existing Instagram information is convenient and carries minimal risk. We are already witnessing brands starting to explore this new platform as it develops. However, like with any new social media platform, engagement rates tend to be higher initially, and there is always the possibility of stagnation.

Currently, the platform is limited to organic testing. It lacks key features such as direct messaging (for customer service) and post editing (for product or service updates). Additionally, the absence of a trending section may affect user longevity and limit content opportunities for brands. However, it is likely that these features will be introduced in the future, potentially followed by the integration of Threads into the meta ad ecosystem, which would benefit brands on the platform.

After a few months of activity, the level of data available on Threads could be appealing for brands looking to leverage it. We have seen third parties previously use tools such as semantic and emotional analysis to target Twitter users based on their content. This type of analysis could certainly be applied to Threads, providing valuable insights about users beyond the existing data gathered by meta through its other platforms.

Threads is likely to become part of wider marketing strategies within the meta ecosystem, occupying a position alongside reels, stories, and posts. This makes it a valuable tool for extending reach and implementing advanced targeting. For now, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on Threads' future developments.

Emily Jones, digital planning & strategy director, Gravity Road

On the face of it, Threads offers brands a fresh space to take their brand personalities up a notch. Combining the real-time conversational nature of Twitter with the community and trend focus of TikTok, it seems to be a melding of all the best bits of Twitter while also bucking the trend of creator-led brand partnerships dominating video-led platforms. We've already seen brands like RyanAir showcasing their brand personality with Twitter-esque banter.

The big question is whether Threads will be just another rehashed concept, or carve out its own distinctive niche. Right now, there’s space for quick organic reach and deeper audience engagement, but time will tell if the initial excitement translates into long-term usage, especially as new features and updates roll in. I’m super interested in Meta's plans for monetization, especially in the context of search engine capabilities and content ranking. With an emphasis on text based formats, it's poised to shake things up behind the scenes in terms of ad targeting opportunities in the backend. It's an ever-evolving landscape, and we're all eagerly watching to see how it plays out!


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