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The logo for the new social media app Threads

Meta's Threads: Our First Impressions

Lance Concannon

Jul 7, 2023

At the time of writing, Meta’s latest social media platform, Threads, has been live for barely two days, but it’s already making a big impact. Having spent a little time with the new platform and absorbing the industry reaction, we’ll share our first impressions in this post. 

Table of Contents

What is Meta Threads?

Meta Threads is a micro-blogging platform focused on short text posts, limited to 500 characters, and also allows users to add photos or videos to their posts. Threads was created by Meta, which already runs Facebook and Instagram, and at the moment you need an Instagram account in order to create a Threads account.

From the perspective of building a successful new platform, being a part of Meta is a clear advantage. Apart from the obvious benefit of having access to a lot of people with deep expertise in building and running large-scale social platforms, Meta was able to encourage a large number of existing Instagram users to set up Threads accounts very quickly.

Social platforms are reliant on the “network effect” which means the more users they have, the more useful they are. A brand new social network with few users isn’t much fun, and it’s usually a struggle to build up a large enough user base for that platform to reach the point where it becomes useful, so many of the early users abandon it long before it reaches that point.

Threads is reported to have achieved 30 million users within its first day, and industry commentators claim that it exceeded 70 million by the end of the second day, although how many of them will become active regular users remains to be seen.

Meta's new Threads app

User Experience on Meta Threads

The overall impression of the user experience on Meta Threads is that it’s a well-designed app built by people who know what they're doing. But at the same time a few important things are missing which, hopefully, will be added in a carefully considered way in the near future. 

The basic functionality is all in place, and it all works more or less how you would expect it to, without any of the clunkiness that puts people off Mastodon. Users can follow each other, share and reply to posts, @mention other users, and set their accounts to public or private. 

Getting started is straightforward, as Threads can simply import all of your profile information across from Instagram, although, of course, a lot of people will want to change this so that their Threads identity is distinct from Instagram. Finding your way around the app is easy, as is posting content, editing your profile, finding people to follow, and searching for content. There’s even a handy “Share Profile” button, should you want to let friends on other platforms know where they can find you. 

So what’s missing? For many users, the biggest issue with Threads is that there’s no chronological timeline of posts from people you follow. Currently, your timeline is a mix of people you follow and content recommended by the algorithm, and it’s not in chronological order.

Example of a Meta Threads profile the feed

Our guess is that this was most likely done so that new users would not be faced with an empty timeline on signup, and it will only be a short-lived measure. Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, has stated that “Both Instagram and Facebook have chronological feeds options, so yes, we’re going to bring one to Threads too.”

The next biggest omission for a lot of people is the lack of both hashtags and trending topics, which would enable users to track and participate in the kind of zeitgeisty conversations that are so popular on other micro-blogging platforms. But bear in mind that the platform is barely two days old, and Meta spokespeople have been keen to point out that users should expect new features to be added in the future. 

Meta has a lot of experience in carefully testing and tweaking new features on Facebook and Instagram, so it’s likely that the company will use the same cautious approach to building out the Threads user experience.

User Adoption on Meta Threads

Building a big enough user base to get Threads through its early days while it finds its place in the world will be critical. It needs to be a great experience from day one, even if a few key features are missing. 

Mark Zuckerberg said that Threads had 30 million sign-ups on day one, and others reported over 70 million by day two, which is a great start. What’s even more important, however, is that a huge number of popular brands, media outlets, and influencers all got on board very quickly too. There was clearly a big appetite for this platform.

What this means is that new users are more likely to find something of interest to them when they set up a Threads account, and that’s important for keeping them engaged and actively using the app as it develops. For anybody who spent the past couple of days on Threads, there was a fun, excitable atmosphere as one big name after another joined the app and posted their entertaining first threads. 

Meta Threads for Social Media Managers

It’s clear that many brands are already serious about building a presence on Threads, which seems promising, but spare a thought for the social media managers having to handle all of this. Right now, there are none of the tools that other platforms offer to make life easier for them, so pretty much all they can do is post content natively through the app. 

These are some of the things currently missing that social media managers will want to see soon:

The fact that adverts aren’t running on Threads yet is a good indication that, at this point, Meta is focused on building the platform and growing the community rather than commercializing it. That, however, is almost certain to be part of the long-term plan since Meta is a listed company and has shareholders to answer to.

The company has robust APIs and analytics for Facebook and Instagram, so it’s reasonable to assume that the same will eventually be true for Threads, but the timeline is as yet unknown.

Our Meta Threads Recommendation

If your brand already has Twitter and Instagram profiles, then Meta Threads is a no-brainer, as you’ll be able to easily repurpose content for the new platform. Based on its early success, there’s a reasonable chance that Threads will grow into a popular social channel in the long term, so it can’t hurt to start building your brand presence there now.

Now is also a good time to do a “vibe check” on Threads, to figure out what the mood feels like there and understand the best tone to use as the community evolves. As an early adopter, you’d also have a unique opportunity to help drive the community and establish the norms for how people use it in the future.

For the reasons outlined above, some extra work will be required since you can only post to Threads natively, and any performance metrics will need to be done manually. Bear in mind that there’s no kind of reach metric currently available in the app, so you’ll only be able to track engagement by counting likes, comments, and shares.

It’s worth noting that as part of the Meta ecosystem, brand safety is likely to be high. The company has a strong moderation system in place with clear rules about what content and behavior is acceptable, so brands can be reasonably confident that it’s a safe channel for them to be visible in.