Digital News

Has Meta’s Threads come loose?

Ben Marshall, Senior Digital Manager
By Ben Marshall, Senior Digital Manager

Much like the digital marketing industry, we greeted the launch of Threads with a degree of excitement and curiosity. Having increasingly found the erratic strategic and platform changes at Twitter harder to navigate, , Meta, inserting themselves into the category was certainly worthy of investigation, especially when it has the financial clout to back itself for the long term.

Threads showed early signs of promise; by allowing users to leverage their pre-existing Instagram accounts to access the platform, which lowered the barriers to access. Threads soon amassed over 100m users in the first five days of being active and was crowned “the fastest-growing app in history”. It already has a fifth of the weekly active user base of Twitter however, all is not what it seems. While Meta has been quick to share the successes in user acquisition, retention is falling off a cliff. Various tracking firms have noted that while users are increasing, the daily number of users are falling, and the time spent on the platform has already halved.

So, what is behind this drop off, and why might brands hesitate before fully investing in Threads as a viable marketing channel?

A rushed development

Despite its launch to much fanfare, Instagram’s launch seemed to arrive out of the blue. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri admitted that not only was the entire app developed by a “small team” in around “five months” but that they had released the app before they had initially intended because of what they perceived as a closing window of opportunity. It’s clear they wanted to capitalise on the rate limit catastrophe that Twitter was navigating over the weekend of July 4th But with this in mind, we see that the version of Threads at launch is not the final product. Simple features like DMs or even being able to remove or close your account are not available and are being rolled out in phases, and with all of Twitter’s current foibles, it does at the very least have a fully realised platform, albeit one that has its flaws. Users flocking to Threads have been surprised by the lack of functionality and may well have joined to be a “first-mover”, but it will take significantly more than that to keep them returning.

Brand safety and compliance

While Twitter is going through its own verification crisis, Threads seemingly offered a solution by allowing users to register for Threads using their existing Instagram account. This ensures that users could be verified, and removed the fraudulent and parody accounts that have caused such headaches for brands on Twitter. However, like with any nascent platform, brands need to exercise a certain degree of caution when engaging with users. As noted, not every functionality has been launched yet, and as the platform team continue to figure out what they want Threads to be, it’s understandable that brands, particularly those in highly regulated industries, do not rush to join a channel that could cause reputational harm, or worse, run contrary to industry frameworks and guidelines and leave them open to fines.

Lack of monetisation

Another side effect of the rushed development of Threads is that currently there is not an option available to use targeted paid content This lack of functionality is likely causing brands to pause investing too much on Threads, as there’s simply no way to reach a specific audience in the same way as other more established channels. For brands with an established presence and a mass consumer audience Threads can be another touchpoint to share their unique voice, but for brands starting out or with a specific audience it will be a struggle to get cut through without spending a lot of time on a platform that isn’t fully realised.

With all this in mind, it’s understandable that users and brands have seemingly lost a degree of interest in the platform after the initial “shiny new toy” honeymoon period. It remains to be seen how the platform will continue to grow and develop, so our recommendation for users is to engage and experiment with the channel, but to monitor future developments in case it doesn’t develop into an effective marketing channel.

If you’d like to discuss your digital strategy further please contact [email protected] or follow us on Threads here!