By Lebo Moerane, Joint Head of Social at VMLY&R South Africa
In case you missed it, Meta’s much-anticipated, ultra-hyped Threads app launched today. Users who had preordered the app woke this morning to notifications that it was now available to install. Cue: early-adopter frenzy.
Credit to Meta – it has not crashed, despite surpassing five million downloads in the first four hours. And then snowballing. Brands and individual users are flooding the platform like GenZs at a Taylor Swift concert and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is, no doubt, laughing maniacally in his eyrie while shadowboxing an effigy of Twitter-owner and apparently soon-to-be cage fight opponent Elon Musk. (Or at least, that’s how we like to imagine what’s going down with Zuck.)
Meanwhile, let’s step outside of the hype for a second and take a first look at what brands should be taking note of.
1/ Straight off the bat, it’s a full house.
“10 million sign ups in seven hours,” says Zuck. But you can tell. There are Big Brands flexing the functionality and it’s also nice to see some regular users trying to figure it out. My first question was: “who are all these people?”. Then I realised the feed isn’t just who you follow, but a mix of handles you don’t follow as well. Which is strange. Almost like Instagram’s “Explore” functionality but on a Twitter type feed.
2/ Direct messages are not available at the moment.
This might mean a temporary breather for brands when it comes to customer service, especially for financial services or brands that require their customers to share sensitive info in the DMs in order to resolve queries. So it seems the point of call is about building brand love, engagement and just sharing content on Threads.
3/ The interface is very similar to Twitter…
…and other text-based microblogging networks when it comes down to sharing media (photos, memes, videos). The content is secondary and doesn't take up the screen like it does on Instagram. It's all about the banter here.
4/ Your audience awaits.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived on a new platform to see hundreds of follow request – not sure if they just transferred your requests from Instagram or if it's purely the excitement from users (FYI I logged in with a brand account).
5/ You’re going to need a strong identity.
From a brand use perspective: Same as with Twitter, you’re going to need a distinctive social media identity or social media voice to make it on this platform. It lends itself to brand building, engagement and thought leadership content. For now, it's all organic as there hasn't been any comms around paid media opportunities, so it's vital to leverage your brand persona to create content that users want to share, reply to and re…thread?* to increase your visibility on the platform.
*@Zuck can we get a verb please?
6/ Finding communities or conversations to follow is difficult.
When you search a topic or hashtag, the results are handles with that keyword – which is reminiscent of the older “Instagram Search” results, which were very similar but have subsequently evolved. I found that to be a missed opportunity.
7/ You can’t currently switch between accounts.
Another throwback to old Instagram: if you want to switch between accounts, you need to logout and login again as a different user. Another missed opportunity. Although, in fairness, it’s not hard – all your accounts are there already if they have Instagram and you don’t need to enter a password. Simply select the one you want to login as and whoomp! there it is.
8/ A note on signing up: If you have an existing Instagram account, it’s easy.
On that note, Threads (like it’s full name – “Threads, an Instagram app” – suggests) is linked to Instagram. It automatically detects your IG account and offers you the option to sign in with it, import your username, profile pic, link and bio. You can also opt in to follow all the same accounts you follow on IG.
Obviously, I’ve cleared my calendar and will be spending the day exploring this new platform. For more insights throughout the day, follow @vmlyrsouthafrica on Threads.
Originally published in Financial Mail.