Unlike most social networks when launching, Threads is making no promises to break new ground. That’s fine with early Threads users, almost all of whom say they’re migrating in search of an environment free of the hate speech and harassment that is taking over Twitter.
This comment from a random Twitter user (@modestproposal1) sums it up:
“It seems to me that (most) aren’t seeking to gain incremental social capital by moving to Threads, which would arguably doom the undertaking. They just want to play the game they know and love/hate.”
If you’ve been a loyal Twitter user, the promise of a Threads account is to regain what Twitter once offered. Indeed, in its first week, there’s been a giddiness to some of the posts. “This is where the party’s at,” said one post. “It’s all about vibes,” wrote someone else. Some of it may have been forced, as in this comment from @fortunemag: “our boss told us to participate in this so here we are.” A comment liked by almost 30,000 accounts and replied to by almost 10,000!
Based on the platform’s first week, I’m not convinced that Threads was created with the intention of serving as a sanctuary and providing continuity for disenchanted Twitter users. It looks a lot like Twitter but offers none of the full functionality. There are no lists, no embeds, no hashtags, no trending topics, no suggested followers, no substacks. The lack of trending topics—which Twitter users have come to consider highly manipulated especially since Elon Musk took over—is intentional, but other features, including advertising, are yet to come.
Also, the posts can be read on the Threads app only. (I link to a few in this post, and on a desktop you can click on those links to read the post, but that’s the end of it, you can’t navigate anywhere else.)
Limitations are to be expected in a new social network. Even Twitter needed a few months to make its API available, but when it did, that fostered all kinds of exciting innovation and ways to interact with and follow the tweets.
Twitter and the rest of the social media masters have since gotten wise and we are not going back to that kind of heady, open social sharing. How it works today: you accept a social network’s invitation to join, create content and form relationships there, and the network will control everything else.
Eyes wide open
Meta is providing a new place where we can presumably resume our happy pre-Musk ways. But let’s go in with eyes wide open.
Individual users need to be attentive to privacy issues that Meta has previously played fast and loose with. As with other Meta apps, according to this Search Engine Land post, the vast amount of information Threads will collect includes: health and fitness, financial, location, browsing history, search history, home address, email address, phone number, cameras, photos, IP information, type of device being used, device signals, data on how users interact with posts and who they’re following. This aggressive data collection is at odds with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, and explains why Threads isn’t available in the EU.
Investment firms, like all other businesses that have more to do than juggle multiple social media presences, are well advised to pace themselves. My bias is always in favor of prioritizing building out your own web presence over which you have full control and can benefit from user engagement, as opposed to chasing one more social network.
What follows are a few comments and observations after a week of ho-hum scrolling and tracking others’ reactions:
- Follow the Lowe Group on Threads. Of course, the Lowe Group has an account, why wouldn’t we? Threads’ major appeal is how simple it is to use Instagram credentials to set up an account. After a few months of study and consideration, we launched our Instagram account last month (see post)—and with a blink of an eye and zero strategic thought, we turned on our Threads account. Like millions of others have done, if only to head off account squatting.
- The rapid adoption is a credit to the Instagram brand. Time will tell how engaged these accounts will be. Will followers gained by sharing images on Instagram be equally captivated by the gray of Threads? “Use emojis in your posts. Being a text-based app, the colors in the emojis help your posts stand out,” was one thin suggestion from a Threads poster over the weekend. Hmm.
- I wouldn’t look for posts from investment firms and most financial advisors for a while. Threads is yet another social network that will have to be approved by Compliance, with posts to be archived. This shouldn’t be too high a hurdle, considering that Instagram activity can be archived. I’ve taken a look at some of the leading archivers’ websites and don’t see a peep about Threads, likely they were as surprised as the rest of us.