Citizen’s Digital Strategists reflect on the impact of the Threads launch and how Threads can integrate with existing marketing strategies.
Even before Meta launched Threads on July 6, 2023, brands have shown a longing for a Twitter alternative. In 2022, Elon Musk was put in the spotlight for allowing hate speech to percolate on Twitter, leading to 625 top advertisers to pull spend from the platform and leaving many reflecting on whether it’s ‘safe’, or even worth it, to remain on Twitter.
Touted as Twitter’s rival, Threads is a text-first platform designed by Meta that allows users to share what’s on their mind, in 500 characters or less. Because of its seamless integration with Instagram, Threads allows for cross-sharing across the two platforms, ultimately keeping conversations and engagement flowing within Meta’s house of brands.
And while there are no ad capabilities on the platform just yet, we anticipate that Threads will eventually jump on the ad train, and will someday be incorporated into Meta’s Business Manager.
Our Vice President of Digital Strategy, Laura Brown, and our Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, Samantha Flores, sat down to chat about what Threads could mean for brands.
Samantha: If you had five minutes at the start of your next client meeting to give a few key takeaways about Threads as consult, what would they be?
Laura: Well, the first is search functionality. Currently, there is no way for brands to search for specific conversations or hashtags on the platform. You’re really limited to looking up people or brands based on their handles, and right now, verified users show up first in search. This gives a really exciting opportunity to test and learn how the algorithm works, and see what you can do to make your content and account stand out and be seen above the rest.
On the flip side, this makes it difficult for brands that operate in a more regulated space to track conversation and cover their bases with things like reporting incidents to regulatory governing bodies (think Pharma).
The second thing that I’m curious about is the lack of ads on the platform. Within the next few months, Threads will be at a critical junction to determine how it will monetize the platform versus how it will deliver the text-first experience that so many users are excited about.
Early adopters have plenty of other ad-free zones, like Discord or ad-discouraged zones like Reddit, they could retreat to if needed – so I think this point of determining the format to drive revenue will be a crucial decision for Threads’ success. And ultimately how we use the platform.
S: Those are terrific takeaways, and great jumping-off points for strategy development especially as so many brands are naturally looking for ways to drive revenue on all channels. I’ll be interested to see what brands choose to focus on the connection with consumers, versus which brands will maintain a level of voice just to keep the lights on, while ads run in the background.
How do we at Citizen anticipate brand and consumers interacting on Threads? Should we jump on it now?
I know we’ve done some terrific work for our clients in terms of taking a hard look at who they’re engaging with from a community management standpoint, and why. Ultimately, there are a few factors that go into that counsel – what are your thoughts as it relates to Threads?
L: I think this is what our Digital Strategy team loves about their work, right? Getting to spend time daily with consumers, whether it’s mining for conversation insights or direct interaction; this is a focus of what we do and is part of our formula when making the decision to jump on, or sit out of a channel.
When looking at Threads, right now the brands that we’re seeing winning in the space are the ones that are taking their authentic brand voice and having actual real conversations with their audiences. It may be satirical gifs or back-and-forth threads, but what consumers are showing an interest in right now is authenticity. And being able to speak to a brand on a platform where the whole idea is to talk to each other – not at each other via ads.
I’m interested to see how long this level of authenticity continues, and whether the interactions between brands and consumers shifts as Threads gets its sea legs.
S: I couldn’t agree more. I think the unknown, and exploring the waters – to go along with our theme here – is part of why I was drawn to Threads. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say a few of the accounts I looked up first were the ones that had a history of being flippant and a bit risque.
But we know this model of being a part of the consumer community is not what all brands look for, nor what all brands should do. So I think that’s where the strategic counsel comes in, where you look at the brand’s ecosystem, really identify where you want the brand voice to land on our sliding scale, and then see how community engagement and these new channels fit – or don’t fit – into that mix.
L: Exactly, and that’s where our Citizen perspective comes in. Right now, we’re looking at Threads from two angles for our clients.
The first is the opportunity for short-term test and learn strategy. This is terrific for a brand that does lean a bit closer to being a member of their own consumer community, and wants to immediately own conversation. What’s exciting here is that you can take existing messaging and strategies, try them out on Threads, and have this inform a longer-term strategy. You can also throw other strategies to the wind and try something completely new on Threads as well – that’s the beauty of a net-new platform.
On the other hand, for brands who do want to sit back and watch things unfold a bit, that’s an option as well. There are so many industries, like we mentioned before, that are highly regulated, or who have a niche consumer base, and simply need time to see how the platform matures before diving in. For those clients, our Citizen team is consistently monitoring shifts and dynamics on the platform, and plan to bring insights into 2024 planning which is right around the corner.
S: I’m glad you mentioned that because I think there is this feeling of ‘we need to be everywhere all at once’ sometimes, with so many platforms. But at the end of the day, each platform operates like its own ecosystem – regardless of how connected the back-end is.
Finding the right platform for your brand’s goals, voice, and community sometimes means sitting things out and allocating resources elsewhere versus diving in.
L: One-hundred percent.
S: Well Laura, as always, it was so fun getting to dive into the details of strategy with you. I’m really excited to continue sharing this information with our clients, and continuing to track how the Threads platform evolves.
For anyone Interested in discussing Threads and how (and if) your business should jump on this new platform, please reach out to the Citizen Relations Digital Strategy team at email@example.com.
About The Authors:
Laura Brown – VP, Digital Strategy
Laura brings 15 years of experience in advertising and public relations agencies. She leads teams to develop digitally-led creative communications campaigns, channel plans, influencer marketing campaigns, paid media plans, community strategies and content development.
Samantha Flores – Senior Manager, Digital Strategy
With experience building digital ecosystems that include both paid and organic initiatives, Samantha focuses on identifying the middle-ground between consumer needs and brand goals in order to design impactful touch points across key markets. Samantha has led the day-to-day operations of major brands including Ingredion US/CAN, ViiV Healthcare, AstraZeneca, STIHL USA, John Deere, and YKK AP, and has led full-scale launches for highly regulated medications including BREZTRI Aerosphere and APRETUDE (cabotegravir).