Threads FAQ: Everything marketers need to know
Threads has attracted a huge user base and is proving to be a serious Twitter alternative. Get up to speed in this explainer.
Threads has become the fastest-growing social media platform in history since its launch on July 5, 2023.
Within the first hour alone, it received a whopping five million sign ups – just three months after Meta confirmed it was working on an alternative to Twitter.
Unfortunately for Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the app is facing retention challenges with its daily active users count plummeting by 82% as of July 31.
The fall in popularity will likely also be disappointing to marketers who were considering alternatives to X, formerly known as Twitter, to host their campaigns.
But is it game over for Threads already? Or is the retention issue just a bump in the road? Here’s everything you need to know…
What is Threads?
Threads is a new social networking app, operated by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms, which is closely integrated with instagram and currently only available on iOS or Android devices. Meta has described Threads as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app”.
It gives its users the opportunity to post updates, share text, images, videos, and interact with other users’ posts via 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.”
Although the app is very similar to Twitter in several ways, Zuckerberg has stressed that one of the key differences is the focus on “kindness” and being “friendly”. He wrote on his Threads account:
- “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 worth noting that Threads is very closely integrated with Instagram. So much so, users can’t sign up to Threads without an Instagram account.
How many people have joined Threads?
More than 120 million people have signed up for Threads since its launch, however, growth has since slowed by as much as 90%.
In its first 102 hours, 100 million people subscribed to Threads. To give some context into how significant this number is, when Instagram launched back in 2010 as an independent platform, it took a week to just reach 100,000.
Taking to his own Threads account to comment on the success of the launch, Zuckerberg commented at the time:
- “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!”
However, in the 28 day after hitting 100 million signs up, only an additional 20 million people joined the app.
The daily active user count is still continuing to drop at around 1% per day.
How many active users does Threads have?
Threads now only has eight million people using the app each day. This is the lowest it’s been since the daily active user count peaked the day after it launched at approximately 44 million.
When the app launched, users opened Threads 14 times on average and spent around 19 minutes scrolling. But by the end of July, those statistics drastically dropped. Threads’ daily average time spent
On its launch day, Threads users opened the app an average of 14 times and spent an average of 19 minutes scrolling through it, the company reported. By the end of the month, however, those figures had fallen sharply. As of August 1, daily average time spent plummeted by 85% to just 2.9 minutes a day. In addition, sessions have fallen by 81% to 2.6.
How is Threads addressing its retention problem?
Zuckerberg acknowledged there was a retention issue but remained optimistic during the company’s Q2 2023 earnings call in July. He said:
- “We saw unprecedented growth out of the gate and more importantly we’re seeing more people coming back daily than I’d expected.”
- “And now, we’re focused on retention and improving the basics. And then after that, we’ll focus on growing the community to the scale we think is possible.”
Threads is now taking action to combat the issue by rolling out new features to improve engagement. This includes:
- Enabling users to see what posts they’ve liked
- Allowing users to upload high-quality images and videos
- Organise follower lists using ‘latest first’ or ‘earliest first’ filters
Zuckerberg has announced the new features on his Threads account, and confirmed that they will be rolled out in the next few weeks.
What brands have signed up to Threads so far?
Notable brands that have been using Threads so far include:
- Ultra Beauty
- Urban Skin RX
- Calvin Klein
Nine of the top ten retailers, including Walmart and Kroger, have signed up to Threads, according to the National Retail Federation. The only chain not to so far is Costco.
Which celebrities have signed up to Threads?
A number of famous faces have signed up to Threads including Oprah, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Shakira and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Sex And The City star Parker announced she had joined Threads on her Instagram account. She wrote:
- “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.”
Does Threads have ads?
Marketers don’t currently have the option to purchase ad space on Threads, however, advertising is inevitable and is likely set to become a significant player in Threads’ overall revenue.
In fact, a source told Axios that the Instagram team are already working on making their branded content tools available in the not too distant future, with ads expected to be introduced when Threads reaches a critical mass. Until then, marketers are advised to clearly disclose paid partnerships by using hashtags or text.
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What are the benefits for marketers to being on Threads?
Although ads aren't available on Threads as of yet, brands can still benefit from creating a profile and potentially getting some amount of organic traffic. Tamara Littleton, CEO of The Social Element, has been working with her team to build profiles for their clients in the hope of generating organic traffic until paid opportunities become available on Threads. She told Digiday:
- "One thing that eases the transition process is the direct link to Instagram from Threads."
- "This will make moving brand comms across much easier."
Why isn't Threads available in the EU?
Threads is available in more than 100 countries – however, it's not currently available in the European Union. This is due to concerns its data privacy operations don't 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, told the Guardian:
- "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 and ethnicity, biometric data, trade union membership, pregnancy status, politics, religious beliefs. And all these data can potentially be sent to third parties."
Currently, there are no plans to roll out Threads in EU countries. However, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Meta is awaiting further guidance regarding the Digital Marketing Act to see if an EU launch will be possible at a later stage.
The European Commission is expected to provide more details but not until September. So a Threads launch date in EU countries is yet to be confirmed.
How will Threads track its users?
Threads will collect a vast amount of information about its users, in the same way Meta's other platforms Facebook and Instagrams do. Meta's apps gather and store all the details users enter, including sensitive information such as:
- Health and fitness information
- Financial information
- Browsing history
- Search history
- Home address
- Email address
- Phone number
- IP information
- Type of device being used
- Device signals (such as Bluetooth signals, nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers)
In addition to the above, Threads also stores data on how its users interact with posts and who they are following.
This in-depth level of detail Threads stores about its user is why EU officials are concerned about data privacy.
Is Threads safe?
Threads is enforcing Instagram’s Community Guidelines on content and interactions. Under these terms, users must be at least 13 years or older, and users under 16 years (or 18 in some countries) will automatically get a private account by default. However, parents are still advised to monitor their children's activities online.
Users will have the option to filter their settings, meaning they have control over who can reply to them in texts. In addition, users will be able to block unwanted accounts and any accounts that they may have blocked on Instagram will automatically be blocked on Threads too.
Meta has invested more than $16 billion into protecting people that use its platforms since 2016, and has stated that safety remains a top priority on Threads.
What can you search for on Threads?
Threads is different to Twitter in the sense you currently cannot search for hashtags or topics. At the moment, users can only use the search tool to look up other users – both those they already follow and those they don't follow.
When profiles are presented in the Threads search results that a user doesn't already follow, they will have the option to instantly follow them or to view their full profile.
Why do you need an Instagram account to join Threads?
Meta announced on its Instagram blog that Threads would be linked to people's Instagram accounts. Explaining the reasoning behind this decision, it said:
- "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 your Threads profile is connected to your Instagram account, certain details are transferred between the two including your name and username. So in order to change your username on Threads, you need to change your Instagram user name. To do this, you need to take the following steps:
- Tap the profile icon in the bottom righthand corner to load your profile.
- Select the 'Editor Profile' button which is located underneath your bio.
- Users can then enter a new Instagram username in the Username field.
- Once the new username has been entered, select the checkmark in the top righthand corner to save your new settings.
Are there any posting limitations on Threads?
There are limitations on posts and videos:
- Posts – Users are restricted to sharing posts with a maximum of 500 characters. However, they can include links, photos and videos.
- Videos – Videos can be no longer than five minutes.
How does Threads work?
Threads is a pretty straight-forward app to use that operates in a similar way to Twitter. Here's how you get started:
- Make sure you have an Instagram account. If you don't have one, you'll need to sign up.
- Download the Threads app and sign in using your Instagram log in details.
- Once you're logged in, the app will ask if you'd like to follow the same accounts that you follow on Instagram.
- The app will then suggest other profiles to follow that it thinks may be of interest to you.
- You can then start using the app. Your feed will serve a combination of posts from people you follow as well as recommended content. You can engage with these posts by either liking them, replying, reposting, or quoting the posts.
- As with Twitter, you also have the option to share posts, videos and pictures on your own profile too.
How do you delete your Threads account?
To deactivate an account, users will need to go to their profile tab, access the settings menu in the top right-hand corner, and then press the 'Account' button. Users will then be asked if they would like to deactivate their profile.
After deactivating a profile, a user's previous posts and interactions will no longer be visible on Threads. Deactivating a profile will not impact the data the platform has collected or affect the linked Instagram account.
If a user deactivates their Instagram account, their Threads account will also be deactivated. If a user would like to reactivate their profile, they can do so by simply logging back into the app.
If a user wishes to delete their account rather than temporarily deactivate it, they will need to delete their Instagram account.
Is Threads replacing Twitter?
Meta CEO Zuckerberg said he believes Threads will be bigger than Twitter but 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 certainly been a success so far. During its first two days of operation, Twitter traffic was down 5% in comparison to the same period a week earlier. It was also 11% down compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the web analytics company SimilarWeb.
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