If you’ve got the swirly black-and-white app on your phone’s home screen, you’re one of more than 100 million Threads users. On a personal level, Threads can be a place for community and conversations. But how can brands utilize this new social media platform—and should they put resources towards it? Spoiler alert — you’ll have to be the one to determine if Threads makes sense for your brand. The good news: you can use this article to help make your decision.
What Is Threads?
According to Meta, Threads is “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.” Similar to X (formerly known as Twitter), users can post on Threads and communicate with others. Still, with a launch date of July 5, 2023, Threads is not only a much newer landscape, but it also has a more limited user base—at this time, only those users with an existing Instagram account can join.
Culture and Community
With a direct connection to Instagram, Threads’ whole user base is a direct representation of Instagram’s demographics. Celebrities were quick to download the app, with names like Oprah, Bill Gates, and, of course, Meta founder Mark Zuckerburg building their communities. Through its integration with Instagram, Threads has welcomed hordes of influencers, creating a welcoming, exciting, and engaging environment.
An almost 180 from Threads’ current culture is X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unhinged” was an adjective one of our team members used to describe Twitter’s current personality—it can skew on the pessimistic side. On the flip side, X has historically also been a great place for networking and finding people with similar thoughts and values. Its power users have been building and engaging with loyal communities for the last decade. It’ll be interesting to see how both Threads and X will evolve as users decide which app to spend their time on.
A quick note: we couldn’t continue without acknowledging a pretty major change in the Twitterverse—Twitter’s rebrand to X. It’s obvious that both X (Twitter) and Threads are going through significant changes, so for the sake of this article, we’re comparing these apps as of now, with a disclaimer that both apps are constantly evolving. For the sake of this article, we’ll use X and Twitter interchangeably.
Battle of the Apps
This leads us to the ultimate question—which app is better? With some brands ultimately calling it quits on X and looking for an alternative platform while other brands are overwhelmed at the thought of having to add another account to their growing list of social channels, it’s decision time—are you Team X or Team Threads?
Before we get into the nuances of each app, here are some of the thoughts from our team:
“I’m looking for something other than Twitter, but until more users are on Threads, I will be using both.”
“I was curious what Meta's Twitter copy would look and function like, also I wanted to claim my user. I'll keep the account if Twitter actually does tank, but for now, Threads isn't the viable replacement for Twitter.”
“I want to learn about Threads and am an early adopter for most platforms.”
“I left Twitter a while back and am not going to actively participate in Threads. Meta is becoming a social monopoly and should have a good competitor for it to be a good platform—X is not going to be a good competitor in the field.”
While there are varying viewpoints in our office (and from Elon and Mark), let’s break down the functional differences between the two platforms (with some more thoughts from our teammates).
1. Ease of Access
Users can access X via mobile, desktop, and in-app. The ability to use Twitter.com on a desktop or on mobile can come in handy when it comes to opening links, navigating multiple tabs, and scheduling posts. In fact, you can view content on X without even having an account. As of now, Threads is only available as an app, much like the early days of Instagram. The only content on Threads.net is a QR code directing viewers to get the app.
2. Character Limit
Got a lot on your mind? Threads is the place to be. With a 500-character limit, you have room to express all your thoughts and feelings. On X, character count is limited to 280 for non-X Blue accounts. Of course, if you need more characters on either platform, you can start a thread, publishing multiple posts together.
“I'm so used to Twitter's limit that it's second nature to just create a thread or keep the tweets short.”
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t seem like brands really know what to do with the extra real estate. Most have been sticking to the familiar short-and-sweet formula that has seen success on X—and when they do branch out into their additional 220 characters, it’s not because they necessarily need the space; it’s just to show they can.
“It's fun to have a bit more flexibility, but I never felt super limited by the 280 limit.”
3. Verification and Paid Features
Speaking of those tiny blue checkmarks, Threads pulls verification status from Instagram, whereas X offers multiple verifications. Accounts with a gold checkmark are “official” business accounts and government accounts are displayed with a gray checkmark. X’s X Blue program offers users verification in exchange for a subscription fee and unlocks additional functions like bookmark folders, undoing a Tweet, and reader mode. Threads doesn’t have an option to upgrade at this time.
4. Signing Up
Currently, the only way to create an account on Threads is through an Instagram account. While that certainly could limit the number of accounts, it also means that bots and other spammy accounts can’t join unless they create an Instagram account to sync with. While this won’t stop those spam accounts from infiltrating Threads, it does make it a little more difficult. On X, anyone can create as many accounts as they’d like, as long as they have a unique email address.
“It was super easy to sign up given you use the same login for Instagram. However, there are security and privacy drawbacks to combining accounts. Also, I found out after that the only way to actually delete your Threads account is to delete the attached Insta as well.”
Starting a new account on X means having to build your audience from scratch (and if you’re not a big brand or a minor celebrity, that can be tough). On Threads, users have immediate access to their existing follower base—there is no “starting from square one” on Threads.
6. Scheduling and Platform Management
With an open API, X makes community management easier for its users—scheduling posts, responding to messages, engaging with followers, social listening, and reporting and analytics can be done from platforms like Sprout Social. Scheduling posts can also be done directly on X. Threads doesn’t have any scheduling options and doesn’t have an open API, which means everything needs to be done natively and organically in-app.
“Without the ability to schedule Threads, brands have the ability to take a step back and think about how the new platform plays into their social media strategy. Rather than duplicating efforts from Twitter, brands can participate in platform-specific trends and real-time engagement.”
When it comes to what people want to see and when they want to see it, X comes out on top. With an intricate explore option, the ability to search by hashtag, and easy accessibility to trending topics, X has a variety of ways to find and consume content. On Threads, users are able to scroll their “for you” and “following” feeds, but that’s where its customized content ends.
“I don't like that you can't see the latest posts or search by hashtag like you can on Twitter (X). I find it to be cumbersome to weed through the posts. Feels random and not as useful. Unless Threads becomes a Twitter clone I doubt I'll use it.”
8. Post Features
On both platforms, users can post links, photos, and videos—although of course, both have limitations on quantity. On X, the limit on media for each post is four and can be a mix of videos, photos, and gifs. Threads is a bit less limited at 10 total between videos and photos and does not currently allow the posting of gifs.
X has various advertising options from video to carousels and takeover ads. Threads has no advertising opportunities (yet). We foresee a seamless integration with paid social efforts on Meta platforms that could be exciting and impactful for brands.
“When Threads does go live with advertising opportunities, it should be super easy to test out. It most likely will be an added placement with a checkbox as part of Meta’s existing platform.”
Speaking of advertising on X, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster in its recent history. A flood of advertisers left the platform after Elon Musk took over, worried that upcoming changes would change the future of X. If (and most likely when) Threads launches advertising opportunities, it could offer a more trustworthy space for those advertisers looking for a place to go.
“Twitter can be such a divisive platform. It’s all too easy for brands advertising in that space to accidentally align themselves with something they may not want to be associated with.”
Currently, Threads is available in 100 countries, including the United States, whereas X is available worldwide.
How Brands Are Using Threads Now
So far, most brands have been using Threads the same way they use X. Whether they’re just reusing the same exact content or reworking it for Threads, most brands aren’t reinventing the wheel (at least not yet). For brands that have spent time building an audience on X, reusing that content is a great strategy to help build a similar audience on Threads.
Should Your Brand Be Using Threads?
While early adoption for brands can sometimes result in wasted investment, Threads offers the benefit of a familiar platform with significant advantages and readily available integrations that make it user-friendly and adaptable. What truly differentiates Threads from other X competitors is its built-in audience base. Unlike platforms looking to siphon users directly from X, Threads can coexist by leveraging an Instagram audience that is larger than X.
So while there isn’t a solid yes or no answer to the question of if your brand should be using Threads, we recommend starting by determining if Threads fits with your current marketing strategy. If your brand is already on X, it probably makes sense to start utilizing Threads now. If you’ve already got a large Instagram following, that would be a good trigger to get started as well.
If you decide Threads makes sense for your business, you can begin experimenting with types of content and overall brand voice to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and avoid playing catch-up later on. Just know that it’s impossible to predict how the platform and the potential audiences will evolve over the next several months.
Ready to Start Threading?
If your brand is considering adding Threads to your list of online communities, the best time to start is now. Even if your brand doesn’t plan to post anything right away, it’s easy to download the app, create an account through Instagram, and follow your existing Instagram followers. As of now, brands can leverage Threads’ launch audience and the excitement of the new platform. In addition, Threads prompts all new users to "instantly follow" their existing Instagram followers, increasing the likelihood of an influx of followers during rollout.
Still a little hesitant about adding a new platform to your brand’s social media lineup? Create a personal account to explore the new space and community to familiarize yourself with the app and get inspiration from others who are also beginning to publish and interact on the platform.
Right now, it’s all about experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. Start by repurposing your current X content with the assumption that users on Threads are looking for instant conversations and communities. Just remember that Threads is going to introduce new functions and evolve over time—what works now might not work two months from now.
What to Expect Moving Forward
Although nothing’s been officially announced, it’s safe to assume that eventually, Threads will open its API, allowing brands to schedule and manage their accounts from a community management platform. It’s also likely that Threads will become available in more countries.
Other than that, who knows what the future holds for Threads and its millions of users? We’ll have to wait and see.
Thinking about using Threads for your business? Contact us to learn more about how we can help weave Threads into your social media strategy.