Threads for Australian brands: Strategy guide
Threads hit the ground running when it was launched by Meta in July this year, attracting 30 million sign-ups globally within a day, and almost 100 million monthly active users today.
With an interface reminiscent of the platform formerly known as-Twitter (now X), Threads features a feed of text-based posts and real-time conversations. At the time of launch many news reports called Threads the “Twitter killer”, although X appears to be doing a good enough job of that on their own.
Discontent due to Elon Musk’s management helped kick-start Threads’ user growth. Coupled with the fact that Threads’ onboarding process relies on people using an existing Instagram account, making it extremely quick and easy.
Now, roughly four months later, X is continuing to see a decline in traffic and active users. At the same time, reports of hate speech and online abuse on X have increased, resulting in a legal notice issued from Australia’s eSafety Commissioner.
With users leaving X and concerns for online safety, Threads provides an alternative that could be worth considering for your brand. Read on to get our thoughts on Threads, and how can you position your brand to take advantage?
First, what is Threads and how does it work?
Run by Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, Threads is a new social media app launched on July 5, 2023. Meta’s announcement states: “You log in using your Instagram account and posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.”
Essentially, Threads is a standalone app, but in the back-end your Instagram and Threads accounts are the same account:
- On the plus side, users can automatically replicate the username, verification and list of accounts followed on Instagram when they log-in to Threads. That convenient step means a chunk of your current Instagram audience could also be ready and waiting to hear from your brand over on Threads. You can also cross-post Threads posts to your Instagram feed.
- The downside of linked accounts is you can’t delete Threads without also deleting Instagram, although you can deactivate your Threads to temporarily remove your profile and any content associated with it.
- Unlike on Instagram, there’s currently no easy way to switch between Threads accounts. So for a social media manager operating both a personal & brand account, the process of logging in and out can be a bit clunky. Plus there is a heightened risk of posting from the wrong account.
Is Threads viable long-term?
Will Threads replace X? Recent third-party research finds X’s monthly active user count has dropped considerably—potentially 14.8% globally or more (although X’s own reported numbers paint a healthier picture).
Meta’s rush to launch with limited features—to capitalise on the anti-Twitter sentiment—left Threads users with a half-baked experience and little genuine engagement. Meta has been gradually building out features since then. An approach we would never recommend with an owned community. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression and if it’s a bad one, you’re unlikely to get those members back.
While Threads is growing fast, it still has a smaller user base than many other social media platforms. Plus there are many Twitter alternatives vying for users—apps like Bluesky, Mastadon, Hive Social, and more.
Should your brand be on Threads?
While the ‘stickiness’ of users and the vibrancy of the Threads community are yet to be seen, being backed by Meta does give it an edge in terms of growth potential and longevity, particularly against some of the previously mentioned Twitter alternatives.
Is there an early mover advantage? Anecdotal evidence from Australian community managers finds content on Threads has performed well compared to other social accounts where there’s more competition and less friendly algorithms, however this is coming off a smaller base.
Other reasons to use Threads could include:
- X doesn’t suit your brand or your target audience anymore. Many X users are increasingly uncomfortable with the right-wing turn that the X app has taken, in addition to growing misinformation.
- X isn’t working to achieve your goals. It’s OK to reassess the performance of your communities and change tactics. Is X a genuine source of engagement or conversions? Six months after US broadcaster NPR left Twitter, it was revealed the decline in traffic had been negligible.
- Fostering a text based micro-community or a micro-blogging format is suited to your brand. This can be particularly powerful for brands that have a voice, strong story-telling or a stance on specific issues.
Threads is not for your brand if:
- You’re looking for another social media customer service channel. Threads does not (yet?) have direct messaging or hashtags, so it isn’t ideal for ‘taking things offline’ or categorising information around a brand hashtag.
- You plan to share broadcast-style posts or your focus is social marketing. Threads is a reactive, personable, casual and dare-we-say fun social media platform.
- Your organisation tends to be more risk adverse and there are lots of approval layers currently in place. Threads success currently requires a level of agility and playfulness.
Threads strategy: 101
Threads is still new and strategically it’s still not totally clear what the best approach to content and posting is. There are no proven ‘hacks’.
This two-step advice is rooted in our extensive background as community management experts across any platform:
- Experiment before you make big moves: A Threads community will require attention to work effectively. Is it a good use of your limited resources? Play around first, understand the functionality and the differences, and decide your next steps from there. Trying to completely replace X with Threads or creating a ground-up content and community management strategy for Threads may be overkill at this stage.
- Conversation is king: At this stage, Threads still has a ‘giant group chat’ kind of vibe. Sharing personable content and fostering engagement should be your priority over purely promotional content. Encourage followers to build a relationship with your brand on Threads by liking, replying and reposting relevant content from your customers, influencers and even other brands. Threads provides an opportunity to build loyalty and foster a sense of community that we no longer have the ability to do on other social media platforms (Facebook pages we’re looking at you and your non-existent organic reach).
What’s a good way to start posting on Threads?
- Repurpose great content. You could start with proven text-based tweets that attracted good engagement on X, or visual content from Instagram posts/stories that resonated well.
- Be playful and positive. The atmosphere on Threads is notably less snarky than X and embracing this attitude will help your brand transition.
- Be part of the conversation. This requires active and skilled community managers that understand your brand tone, voice and messaging, and the freedom to represent the brand with agility and minimal levels of approval.
For example, Aussie bedding company Bed Threads’ first post was a light-hearted reply to Mark Zuckerberg, and they continued to highlight the play on words to generate good engagement early:
Art Gallery of NSW shared a fun series of ‘long art’ posts taking advantage of Threads lack of image cropping and matching the platform’s buoyant vibe:
Who Give A Crap have been embracing toilet humour, social media trends and engaging with other brands.
It’s too soon to tell if Threads will take off to the same extent as the other mega social media platforms we know and love/hate. If you have capacity and you’re looking for an alternative to X, Threads offers an opportunity to foster community and build customer engagement.
Want advice or practical online community management help as you embrace Threads? Please get in touch.