Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Instagram’s Twitter Alternative, Threads (For Now)

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The buzz around Threads is making waves among marketers who have been distancing themselves from Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover last year, resulting in a significant 59% drop in ad spend in the US. Marketers are now exploring new platforms to host their campaigns without compromising reach or quality.

What is Threads?

Threads is a new social networking app operated by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms. Closely integrated with Instagram, the app is currently only available on iOS and Android devices. Meta has described Threads as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app.”

Threads offers users the opportunity to post updates, share text, images, videos, and interact with other users’ posts through likes, reposts, and replies. On the app store, Threads is described as:

“[A place] where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.”
“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things – or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions, and creativity with the world.”

While the app shares similarities with Twitter, Zuckerberg has emphasized the key difference of focusing on “kindness” and being “friendly.” In a post on his Threads account, he wrote:

“The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success.”
“That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”
“We are definitely focusing on kindness and making this a friendly place.”

It’s important to note that Threads is closely integrated with Instagram, to the extent that users cannot sign up without an Instagram account.

How Many People Have Joined Threads?

Since its launch, more than 100 million people have signed up for Threads. Mark Zuckerberg himself celebrated this milestone on his Threads account, stating:

“Threads reached 100 million sign-ups over the weekend.”
“That’s mostly organic demand, and we haven’t even turned on many promotions yet.”
“Can’t believe it’s only been five days!”

For context, when Instagram launched as an independent platform in 2010, it took a week to reach just 100,000 users.

What Brands Have Signed Up to Threads So Far?

Nine out of the top ten retailers, including Walmart and Kroger, have activated their accounts on Threads, according to the National Retail Federation. The only retailer yet to do so is Costco.

Among the top five consumer brands, only Reese’s has activated its account. Similarly, among the top ten fashion brands, only Nike has signed up. Advertisers are being cautious, waiting to see how Threads develops before making commitments.

However, other major names, including Calvin Klein, Kith, Allbirds, Shein, and Uniqlo, have been quick to sign up and already have active accounts.

Which Celebrities Have Joined Threads?

Several famous faces, including Oprah, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Shakira, and Sarah Jessica Parker, have joined Threads.

Sarah Jessica Parker, known for her role in “Sex and the City,” announced her presence on Threads via her Instagram account, expressing her hopes for the platform:

“I am giddy with the hope that @threadsapp will be a new opportunity to continue to share book titles, images of my day in NYC and elsewhere, support for our libraries, a divinely cooked thin-cut pork chop on the bone, or anything else I think deserving of your time.
“I hope that @threadsapp might prove to be a platform where folks are kind, thoughtful, don’t feel encouraged to be mean, aggressive, or hostile… this could be a new day.”

Will Threads Have Ads?

Currently, marketers cannot purchase ad space on Threads. However, according to Axios, the Instagram team is working on making branded content tools available in the near future, with the expectation that ads will be introduced when Threads reaches a critical mass. In the meantime, marketers are advised to disclose paid partnerships clearly using hashtags or text.

It’s worth noting that Meta’s other brands, such as Instagram, initially launched without ads but eventually integrated them, becoming a significant source of revenue.

Why Isn’t Threads Available in the EU?

Although Threads is available in over 100 countries, it is not currently accessible in the European Union. This is due to concerns that its data privacy operations do not comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act.

Carissa Veliz, an associate professor at the Institute for Ethics in AI at the University of Oxford, voiced her concerns, stating:

“Meta has not only not changed its business model, it continues to want to do targeted ads, essentially surveillance advertising.”
“To that end, the company is trying to collect as much data as possible and trying to continue in the same direction as it has from the very start despite all the scandals, despite the public backlash, despite warnings from regulators, despite fines. It’s not reimagining its business model to make it a more respectful business model towards users.”
“It can include sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity, biometric data, trade union membership, pregnancy status, politics, religious beliefs. And all these data can potentially be sent to third parties.”

There are currently no plans to launch Threads in EU countries. However, Meta is awaiting further guidance regarding the Digital Marketing Act from the European Commission, with more details expected in September.

How Will Threads Track Its Users?

Threads will collect a vast amount of information about its users, similar to how Meta’s other platforms, Facebook and Instagram, do. This includes sensitive information such as health and fitness data, financial information, location, browsing history, search history, home address, email address, phone number, cameras, photos, IP information, device type, and device signals.

Additionally, Threads stores data on how users interact with posts and whom they follow. This level of detail raises concerns about data privacy among EU officials.

Is Threads Safe?

Threads enforces Instagram’s Community Guidelines for content and interactions. Users must be at least 13 years old, and those under 16 (or 18 in some countries) will automatically have a private account by default. However, parents are still advised to monitor their children’s online activities.

Users have the option to filter their settings, giving them control over who can reply to their texts. They can also block unwanted accounts, and any accounts blocked on Instagram will be automatically blocked on Threads as well.

Meta has invested over $16 billion in protecting people using its platforms since 2016 and has stated that safety remains a top priority on Threads.

What Can You Search for on Threads?

Unlike Twitter, Threads currently does not allow users to search for hashtags or topics. Currently, users can only use the search tool to look up other users, whether they already follow them or not.

When profiles appear in Threads’ search results for users who don’t already follow them, users have the option to instantly follow them or view their full profile.

Why Do You Need an Instagram Account to Join Threads?

Meta announced that Threads would be linked to users’ Instagram accounts. They explained this decision on the Instagram blog:

“Our vision with Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas.”
“Just like on Instagram, with Threads, you can follow and connect with friends and creators who share your interests – including the people you follow on Instagram and beyond.”
“The benefits of open social networking protocols go well beyond the ways people can follow each other. Developers can build new types of features and user experiences that can easily plug into other open social networks, accelerating the pace of innovation and experimentation. Each compatible app can set its own community standards and content moderation policies, meaning people have the freedom to choose spaces that align with their values.
“We believe this decentralized approach, similar to the protocols governing email and the web itself, will play an important role in the future of online platforms.”
“Threads is Meta’s first app envisioned to be compatible with an open social networking protocol – we hope that by joining this fast-growing ecosystem of interoperable services, Threads will help people find their community, no matter what app they use.”

How Can You Change Your Username on Threads?

As Threads’ profile is connected to users’ Instagram accounts, certain details, including the name and username, are transferred between the two platforms. To change the username on Threads, users need to change their Instagram username. They can do this by following these steps:

  1. Tap the profile icon in the bottom right-hand corner to load the profile.
  2. Select the ‘Edit Profile’ button located underneath the bio.
  3. Enter a new Instagram username in the Username field.
  4. Once the new username is entered, select the checkmark in the top right-hand corner to save the new settings.

Are There Any Posting Limitations on Threads?

Threads imposes limitations on posts and videos:

  • Posts: Users can share posts with a maximum of 500 characters, including links, photos, and videos.
  • Videos: Videos must not exceed five minutes in length.

How Does Threads Work?

Threads is a user-friendly app that operates similarly to Twitter. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get started:

  1. Ensure you have an Instagram account. If not, you’ll need to sign up.
  2. Download the Threads app and sign in using your Instagram login details.
  3. Upon logging in, the app will ask if you’d like to follow the same accounts you follow on Instagram.
  4. The app will then suggest other profiles to follow based on your interests.
  5. Begin using the app. Your feed will display a combination of posts from people you follow as well as recommended content. You can engage with these posts by liking, replying, reposting, or quoting them.
  6. Similar to Twitter, you can also share posts, videos, and pictures on your own profile.

How Do You Delete Your Threads Account?

To deactivate your account, go to your profile tab, access the settings menu in the top right-hand corner, and press the ‘Account’ button. You will then be asked if you would like to deactivate your profile.

Deactivating your profile will render your previous posts and interactions invisible on Threads. However, it will not impact the data collected or affect your linked Instagram account.

If you deactivate your Instagram account, your Threads account will also be deactivated. Reactivating your profile is as simple as logging back into the app.

If you wish to delete your account instead of deactivating it temporarily, you will need to delete your Instagram account.

Is Threads Replacing Twitter?

Meta CEO Zuckerberg believes Threads will eventually surpass Twitter, but acknowledges that it will take time.

“I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it,” he said. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully, we will.”

Since its launch, Threads has already demonstrated promising success. During its first two days, Twitter traffic was down 5% compared to the same period a week earlier, and 11% compared to the same period the previous year, according to web analytics company SimilarWeb.

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