Twitter alternative Threads has become the quickest app to reach 100 million members after it was launched on Wednesday 5 July, a day earlier than scheduled. Incredibly, it hit 30 million users after 24 hours and 70 million within 48 hours.

What is Threads?

  • Threads is a new app, built by the Instagram team, for sharing text updates and joining public conversations.
  • You log in using your Instagram account and posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to five minutes in length.
  • They are working to soon make Threads compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that they believe can shape the future of the internet.

Threads is created by Meta, and so understandably there’s a fair amount of crossover between Instagram and Threads.

For example, users can access the platform by using their Instagram account to log in, although there will be the option to customise your profile specifically for Threads. You can also sync your Instagram bio with your Threads account and carry your followers and accounts followed over from Instagram.

Once you’re inside, users will find ‘text updates’ that are basically tweets in everything but name – although the interface will feature Instagram-like design and font.

The feed will include threads posted by accounts you follow, and because this is a Meta product, content from accounts you haven’t discovered yet. Posts are limited to 500 characters and can include videos of up to five minutes long, photos and links. 

Users can also share a Threads post to an Instagram story. Users who are 16 (or 18 in some countries) will be given a private profile by default.

A positive alternative to Twitter

Meta wants Threads to be a place that “enables positive, productive conversations”, and if you’ve ever spent a day on Twitter, you’ll know that it doesn’t always help foster that sort of connection.

Rather, it’s become the home of increasingly angry discourse, especially as new owner Elon Musk has got rid of some of the controls the app previously had regarding what could and couldn’t be posted.

Despite the similar look and feel to Twitter, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri said he isn’t trying to replace Twitter – but wants to create “a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter”. He also says that Threads is designed to be a less angry place and Threads won’t encourage politics and hard news on the platform.

In that respect, Threads and Twitter could co-exist peacefully with one providing a space to go for news and politics and Threads a place to go to see your mates’ thoughts on the latest sports results. However, what are the odds of that?

How can your businesses use Threads?

Threads is brand new, so marketers should probably spend some time learning the platform before jumping in. However, much like Twitter, Threads is a space for personal brand-building and a place where marketers can show the human side of the business.

For now, sales or promotional posts would feel a little out of place, so keep threads short, punchy, and relaxed. While Threads does support video, it doesn’t feel like its natural home – save it for Shorts, Reels or TikTok.

Tune Out the Noise

Meta has built Threads with tools to enable positive, productive conversations. You can control who can mention you or reply to you within Threads. Like on Instagram, you can add hidden words to filter out replies to your threads that contain specific words. You can unfollow, block, restrict or report a profile on Threads by tapping the three-dot menu, and any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads.

Fast Growth

One reason why Threads has grown so quickly could be that people are simply tired of Twitter – and this can be seen in the number of alternative platforms, such as BlueSky and Mastodon, that have popped up in the last year or so.

More specifically to Threads, it’s easy for Instagram users to jump across and bring the communities that they’ve built over the years with them. There’s plenty of cross-pollination with Insta which makes building a following easier than it is on a new, standalone platform.

We already know that the growth of Threads has dwarfed anything else that’s gone before. Even ChatGPT, which registered 100 million users in two months.

However, it still has some way to go to reach Twitter’s 250 million daily active users.

Some Key Missing Features

1) No web interface This is a major drawback as a significant number of people use web browsers on PCs, but they cannot interact with the app. Being unable to migrate across various platforms is a major deficiency.

2) Account Dependency Accounts linked to Instagram cannot be deleted without deleting both. This inability to decouple is dangerous as you don’t want to be deleting your Instagram account by mistake; surely you should be as free to leave as you are to join. You can deactivate your profile if you no longer want to use your Threads account in your Account Settings.

3) No search function. You are currently unable to search key terms. I know their app is new, but this seems like a very basic feature.

4) Unresolved non-compliance with privacy laws The app is simply not available in the European Union as the privacy issues have not been resolved. Europeans value their privacy, but Meta values exploiting user data.

5) Censorship?

Being in early stages and having their team still working on the app in the background, I am sure we will see many updates in the months to come.

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