- Threads offers a decluttered, mobile-first experience for microblogging beyond Instagram.
- Deep integration with Instagram provides a built-in audience and simplifies signup.
- Major differences from Twitter include expanded character limits, better multimedia options, and an algorithmic feed.
- Deleting your Threads account also removes your Instagram account.
- Big names are trying out Threads but some express privacy concerns.
- Missing features like search and analytics need enhancement.
- Interoperability with other platforms is an ambitious long-term vision.
The social media landscape was shaken with the surprise launch of Threads, a new micro-blogging app from Meta. Billed as a "separate space" for users to have "real-time conversations" beyond likes and comments, Threads arrived at a pivotal moment with Twitter mired in controversies under Elon Musk’s ownership.
With its seamless Instagram integration, the Threads app amassed more than 30 million users within its first day, according to Mark Zuckerberg. But is this latest addition to the Meta ecosystem a true Twitter rival, or just another flash in the social media pan?
We spent the past few weeks poking around Threads to get a feel for the platform and now we’re sharing our first impressions.
Getting started with Threads
If you're eager to get started on Threads, here's what you need to know.
First, you can conveniently download the app from both Apple's iOS and Google Play stores. Registering on Threads is a swift process as it effortlessly allows you to use your existing Instagram login details. Once you're authenticated, you can seamlessly transfer your username, profile photo, bio, and follower list from Instagram to Threads. This easy setup and inherent familiarity play a significant role in Threads’ rapidly building user base of over 116M.
As for our first impressions when you open Threads, you'll find the app to have a familiar feel, yet it comes across as considerably decluttered compared to Instagram's dense interface. The minimalist design is a clear indication that text is the priority, although multimedia posts are still welcome. The app's layout is surprisingly intuitive, with easy-to-navigate tabs at the bottom and a fuss-free profile setup process, making your introduction to Threads engaging and simple.
Posting on Threads
Threads makes posting a user-friendly experience through smart multimedia integration and engaging ways to interact.
- Multimedia options: Each post on Threads can include up to 500 characters of text. You have the ability to attach a single photo, multiple photos (up to 10), and videos up to 5 minutes in length. It also does a great job integrating vertical images and clean side-by-side photo views.
- Engagement options: The main ways to interact with posts include liking, commenting, sharing, and forwarding. You can also directly reply to posts and mention other users with the "@" symbol. More advanced controls over mentions and replies have been promised and direct messaging is not a feature yet, but a leaked memo says DMs will be ‘coming soon’.
- Algorithmic feed: Unlike Twitter's chronological posts, Threads shows an algorithmic feed that combines accounts you follow, trending topics, and recommended posts but it currently lacks a robust search function.
- No editing option: Users cannot edit posts once they are published on Threads - only delete and repost. This is a small but important missing feature.
- Privacy options: Threads offers privacy settings to control account and data visibility. You can block accounts, make your profile private, and approve new followers. A ‘hidden words’ filter is also available to hide replies containing keywords you don’t want to see.
- Ads and paid features: Threads currently has no ads or paid features like Twitter Blue but while monetization plans are unclear at the moment, they are more than likely coming.
Threads vs. Twitter
While likenesses exist between Threads and Twitter due to their microblogging nature, key variations in features and functionality establish a unique identity for each.
- 500 characters: Threads allows for more expansive thoughts with a 500-character limit – almost double the capacity of Twitter’s standard 280 characters for each post (although Twitter Blue users get up to 10,000 characters). This provides Threads users with the freedom to communicate ideas more thoroughly without compromising their message for the sake of brevity.
- Multimedia: Flexibility in multimedia posting is another area where Threads tops Twitter. Threads makes it possible to attach up to 10 photos in a single post against Twitter's maximum limit of 4. Moreover, Threads has improved the handling of vertical images, enhancing user experience.
- Algorithmic feed: The organization of the news feed differs across both platforms. Twitter offers users a reverse chronological display of posts from followed accounts, while Threads leverages an algorithmic feed that integrates suggested posts.
- No edit option: This is a big one. While Twitter provides the ability to edit posts after publishing, editing is unavailable on Threads, at least for now. Currently, Threads users can only 'delete and repost'.
- Integration with Instagram: Threads secures a significant edge with its seamless integration with Instagram. This not only taps into the vast Instagram user base but also the convenience of a single sign-in process, fostering a familiar environment for new users.
- Fewer advanced features: Threads lags slightly behind in terms of certain advanced features offered by Twitter. Currently, Threads lacks tools like trending topics, a robust search function, advanced analytics, and scheduled tweets among other things that Twitter users enjoy.
- No web version: Accessing the platform is another area where these two tech titans diverge. Twitter provides both web and mobile access, whereas Threads is presently limited to a mobile-only experience.
- Account deletion: Deleting a Threads account isn't as simple as it is on Twitter. While it’s easy enough to deactivate your Threads account, deleting Threads involves deleting your Instagram account as well – a controversial move that has upset some users.
During the launch of Threads, Meta stressed the new app's goals of being interoperable with other social platforms by supporting open protocols. This could allow cross-communication between accounts on Threads, Instagram, Twitter, Mastodon, and others.
Mark Zuckerberg said a core vision for Threads is enabling an "interconnected social media experience across apps." Instagram head Adam Mosseri called Threads a "modern, open social networking protocol."
If achieved, this interoperability would be a major advancement for social media. It could introduce fun new ways for users on different platforms to engage with each other seamlessly.
However, Meta's wording is careful to say Threads is working toward these technical integrations, which are not fully implemented yet in the app's initial version so this cross-platform goal is something to keep an eye on.
Attracting a wide audience
Threads has instantly clicked with its audience with its fresh, user-friendly appeal. Its uncomplicated and visually stimulating interface is gaining favor over traditional microblogging platforms, and its enjoyable vibe is refreshing to the social media scene. The deep tie-in with Instagram also adds to its appeal, drawing in users who weren’t typically engaged with brief, message-focused platforms like Twitter.
Big names and influencers on Threads
Threads has broken onto the social media landscape, creating a buzz among influencers and brands alike. Some people believe that virtually every influencer will join Threads just in case it takes off.
Despite the rush, it seems not everyone was ready to dive in just yet as some of Instagram's highest-profile influencers had no presence on Threads one day post-launch, including Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
Even Instagram head Adam Mosseri expressed his uncertainty over user retention, admitting in an Axios interview that he wasn't sure about how many users will continue on Threads in the long run and it still remains to be seen if people are willing to delete their Instagram accounts just to delete Threads.
Despite these doubts, brands have already commenced their journey on Threads. According to Glossy, several big brands have been on board right from the launch.
While some of Instagram's major influencers are missing, others are embracing Threads, including names like Gordon Ramsay, Jennifer Lopez, Mark Cuban, Shakira, and Seth Curry. Influencers such as MKBHD, Philip DeFranco, Michael Le, and Alan Chikin Chow, along with corporations like Netflix have also begun using this nascent platform.
However, acceptance varies widely among these big names. Some endorse Threads wholeheartedly, deeming it a refreshing platform for community building. In contrast, others voiced apprehension over issues surrounding data privacy, access permissions, and potential biases in algorithmic content curation. It seems that while Threads has sparked interest, it’s poised to unfold with fascinating and diverse perspectives that'll shape its evolution.
Who is Threads for?
While popular social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram enjoy wide user bases, Threads aims to attract certain audiences who find its unique blend of features appealing which includes:
- Creators, publishers, and readers: Threads caters to creators, publishers, and readers seeking an alternate space beyond Instagram and Twitter for expressing themselves. The 500-character count allows for longer-form thoughts than other microblogging channels.
- Visually-oriented users: Those who prefer posting vertical images and photo sets will say Threads has an edge over Twitter. This appeals to photographers, designers, and other visual professionals.
- Younger demographic: Gen Zers wanting "something new" beyond TikTok and Snapchat may explore Threads for self-expression and Meta will likely target this group.
- Casual posters: The casual poster may be drawn to Threads' simplicity over Twitter's more robust tools since quick writing and multimedia integration is relatively straightforward on Threads.
- Fleeing Twitter users: Some fleeing Twitter amid confusion over its direction under Elon Musk may see Threads as a better, more stable alternative and the Instagram integration further eases the transition.
- Brands and businesses: Brands already active on Instagram and Twitter can easily expand to Threads, sharing existing content and gauging the new audience within a safer, more predictable environment for brands than Twitter.
During the announcement, Meta emphasized Threads will include core accessibility features. This includes alt text generation for images, screen reader support, options to increase text size, AI-generated image descriptions, and more.
An early commitment to accessibility reflects Meta's efforts across its family of apps, which is an important area where Twitter has faced criticism. Executing these features well out of the gate can help set positive norms for the Threads community by embracing inclusion and diversity.
You can’t delete Threads?
Yes, you can BUT – a major point to note is that deleting your Threads account is not a straightforward process. Since Threads and Instagram accounts are deeply integrated, deleting one leads to eliminating the other as well. Users should be aware of this implication before signing up.
Early concerns and criticisms
Threads, though promising, has encountered some early criticism with feedback pinpointing missing features and areas for improvement.
- Missing features: Threads' initial rollout has been met with applause, but it hasn't been exempt from criticism. Key features that Twitter users have grown accustomed to are noticeably absent from Threads. These include functions like filtering feeds to show posts from only followed accounts, a more comprehensive search system, data/analytics capability, a function for trending topics, and an API for automated activities.
- Algorithmic feed: Threads' use of an algorithmic feed, though seen as progressive by some for aiding discovery, has sparked concerns among those who prefer a clear cut, reverse chronological order of posts from followed accounts, à la Twitter. The controversy arises when unsuspected recommendation posts make their way into the feed.
- No web version: For now, Threads is solely a mobile app experience, leaving desktop users out of the picture. This imposes a limitation on accessibility and could potentially deter a segment of users who prefer browsing social media on their computers.
- No anonymous accounts: The identity link with Instagram is another debated aspect of Threads. Whereas Twitter allows for the creation of 'alter-egos', Threads' tight coupling with Instagram identities may pose a hurdle for users wanting to maintain a different persona on Threads.
- No easy account deletion: As highlighted earlier, account deletion is convoluted.
Amid the influx of new social media apps, some remain skeptical about the necessity of Threads and wonder if it’s just another app. Despite its positioning as a "separate space" for real-time conversations, a segment of users perceive it as just another addition to the already crowded social media space
Final verdict: Cautiously optimistic
Given Meta's vast resources and experience running successful social platforms, we’re cautiously optimistic about Threads’ long-term outlook. While missing key features at launch, the solid user experience and integration with Instagram offer significant advantages.
Interoperability between platforms, if achieved, would be game-changing and aligns with Meta's vision for an open, modern social web. But implication and execution remains to be seen.
For individual users seeking an alternate space beyond Instagram and Twitter, Threads shows initial promise. But the platform needs time to evolve.
Similarly, brands should take advantage of Meta's push by joining Threads early but they should also temper their expectations until more business features like Analytics arrive.
The next few weeks will prove critical as Meta expands the feature set and works toward making Threads truly interoperable with other networks. If they succeed, Threads has massive disruptive potential and may still live up to being the Twitter killer as some predicted.