Threads has arrived with a huge bang. The new microblogging site from Meta was launched in early July and in its first five days garnered more than 100 million app downloads – and that’s without any users from Europe where the company says it is still working through “regulatory complexity.”
Many early users express a desire for Threads to replace Twitter, and while the early reviews of Threads have been good, the question for B2B tech marketers and communications leaders is: “Should the service replace the Twitter as a social media marketing tool for B2B technology companies?”
For paid social, the answer is easy – Threads is not set up for advertising and some news reports say that it won’t start taking ads until its well on its way to 1 billion users. For organic social, however, the answer is not so cut and dry.
Threads is a microblogging service that allows users to post up to 500-character posts (compared to 280 character posts for Twitter). Threads are posted using a smartphone app and signing up requires an Instagram account. In this way a Threads user has the potential to convert its Instagram followers into Threads followers solving the “cold start” program facing a new social media service that starts from scratch. This differentiates Threads from other Twitter challengers such as Mastodon and Truth Social in that it gets a network effect from its close connection to Instagram.
Early adopters are drawn to some of the features and improved content moderation of the new service that have the potential to make it a friendlier space for communications. The service also has some features that tamp down the posting of news which is a significant departure from Twitter but is meant to limit the divisiveness on the site.
Marketers like the algorithm built intro Threads that can help boost engagement by exposing their message to potential new followers. However, some users say this results in a messy feed that is hard to isolate their followed content from the algorithm’s suggested content.
Challenges For B2B Technology Marketers
The usability of Threads by a social media team is one challenge for B2B technology companies (or any company).
At launch Threads is available only as a mobile app with no ability to post from a web interface (although you can read Threads from the web). This makes it hard to involve a social media team in the posting of content.
While the Instagram connection (along with controversial changes at Twitter) is helping to fuel the eye-popping Threads sign up numbers, when it comes to B2B technology firms the Instagram requirement is a problem because Instagram is not a mainstream social media tool for B2B technology companies.
To ensure to myself that this isn’t just my opinion, I researched the Instagram usage of 21 B2B technology companies – both industry leaders and startups – and found that seven had Instagram accounts. Most of these were larger firms (Cisco, HubSpot); the others were companies with a B2C or small business marketing effort (Calendly, SimplyDo).
Most of these companies used Instagram very sparingly and with created graphics and not the candid photos that are the hallmark of Instagram. The content is focused primarily on communicating company culture and weren’t used to promote blog posts, new products or other content that was posted on LinkedIn or Twitter.
To use Threads then, companies without Instagram (2/3 of the companies in my quick, non-scientific research) would have to develop an Instagram strategy and then do the same for Threads. This would mean dedicating additional human and budget resources that would allow the company to be intentional about creating content for these services. Additionally, resource would be needed to build a following on these services from scratch.
Will Threads Work for Executive Personal Branding?
So, if embracing Threads is a challenge for B2B technology firms, what about B2B technology executives? One way to look at this is there is a huge opportunity to garner new followers since 100 million people have signed up, but the content creation is just starting out.
This could be a good opportunity for an entrepreneur who creates dynamic content and has no qualms about turning their Instagram feed over to their company marketing. It’s not a great tool for the executive that wants to keep their Instagram focused on sharing photos and experiences with friends and family.
Threads is an intriguing new entry into the social media market and its evolution will be interesting to watch. Meta made some smart moves in the design of the service to create a network effect that launched the service with such great success.
Right now, those choices – especially the tight integration with Instagram – make the service a challenge for B2B technology marketers at companies that don’t use Instagram. These companies will have to evaluate their own strategies to determine if the effort and cost to embrace Instagram and Threads is worth it.