Attention social media lovers; there’s a new sheriff in town! Meta’s Instagram recently launched its X (Twitter) alternative app called Threads — and the public adoption so far is mind-blowing.
The app has garnered over 100 million users in five days. For context, it took X (Twitter) five months to acquire a hundred million users.
Will Threads replace X (Twitter)? Time will tell. In the meantime, let’s dive deeper into how this social platform works and how to use it for your business.
What is Instagram Threads?
Threads is Instagram’s text-based conversation app launched on July 5, 2023. Let’s break it down.
Like X (Twitter), Threads lets you share your ideas and opinions with videos and images and engage in public discussions with other users. You can also follow people whose content interests you and build relationships in the app.
Here’s how the Threads team describes their social platform:
Threads [noun]: This app! “Threads is 🔥.”
thread [noun]: Just another word for a discussion. “@mosseri started a great thread.”
post [noun]: An individual piece of text or media. “Want to save this post?”
post [verb]: To publish. “I posted a thread.”
reply [verb]: Responding to someone’s post or thread. “Did you reply to me?”
repost [verb]: Sharing someone’s post to your profile. “I reposted @zuck’s photo.”
quote [verb]: Sharing someone’s post + your own thoughts. “I quoted @mosseri.”
How to create a Threads account
Threads automatically syncs with your Instagram profile, so you need an IG account to set up a Threads profile. Here’s how to go about it:
1. Download the Threads app from your App Store or Google Play Store.
2. On the app’s registration page, you’ll get a prompt to log in with your Instagram account.
3. Thread imports the username and bio from your Instagram account. You cannot edit your username, but you can make changes to your bio at any time.
4. Next, you’ll see a privacy page. Here, you can set your account to public view — meaning anyone can see and engage with your content. You can also create a private profile that restricts your content to approved followers.
5. Next, you’ll get a prompt to follow the same accounts you follow on Instagram automatically. You can also choose to follow specific accounts.
6. The next screen explains how Threads works and what you can expect on the platform. Click the “Join Threads” button to activate your profile and get started on the app.
What are the main features on Threads?
Threads lets you:
1. Post content and attach images and videos: You can post updates of up to 500 characters long and videos of up to 5 minutes in length.
2. Engage with other users: You can like, share, repost, and reply to other users’ threads. You can also reply to other users’ comments on a post — without commenting on the original content.
For example, in the image below, you’ll see that people reply to Whatsapp’s comment without commenting directly on Thread’s post.
3. Share content to external platforms: You can share your thread to your Instagram stories or X (Twitter) to boost visibility and engagement. To do this, click on the arrow-like share button and select your preferred sharing option.
P.S.: Elon might not appreciate seeing a Threads link on X (Twitter) 😅.
4. Curate your profile: Threads has several privacy settings that allow you to choose the type of content that appears on your feed.
You can make your profile private, mute accounts, or hide certain words from appearing on your timeline. You can also set your feed to only show updates and engagements from the people you follow.
5. Take a break: Worried you’re spending too much time on Threads? Use the “take a break” feature to disconnect from the app at intervals. When enabled, this feature mutes all incoming notifications.
To activate this feature:
- Click on the person icon at the bottom right corner of your feed to access your profile.
- Tap the two dashes at the top right corner of your profile.
- Select account and click “take a break”.
- Choose the interval for your break. You’re all set!
What you cannot do on Threads yet
1. Send direct messages: Threads doesn’t have an in-app chat feature yet. So, you cannot send or receive DMs from users in the app. This might change in the future.
2. Use hashtags: Unlike X (Twitter) and Instagram, there’s no hashtag feature for Threads. This means you cannot use hashtags to boost your posts or share content with specific audiences.
3. Bookmark posts: You cannot save posts to read them later on Threads. For now, you have to take screenshots of posts you want to read later or save the links to your private swipe file.
4. Search for content: Threads only allows you to search for users’ handles. You cannot search for topics, keywords, or hashtags to discover new content.
5. See trending content: Unlike X (Twitter), Threads doesn’t show you trending topics based on your location. This affects how you discover information and conversations on the app.
6. Run ads: Threads doesn’t support publishing paid content or boosting existing content with paid advertising. But this will likely change in the future as the platform builds out new features and acquires more users.
However, most of these features are in the works. In a recent thread, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, noted that:
“With so many people joining Threads so fast these last six days, the team has been entirely focused on keeping the lights on and fixing bugs. But we’re starting to prioritize the obvious missing features, like a following feed, the edit button, and post search. We’re clearly way out over our skis on this, but the team is pumped to start shipping improvements this week. 🧵🚀”
Despite its wide adoption, users are still worried about how Threads accesses and uses their content and personal information. This is hardly surprising considering Meta’s history with data privacy violations.
For instance, the app’s Terms and Conditions state that Meta can share your content with third-party apps and isn’t responsible for how these platforms use your data.
Also, you can only delete your Threads account by deleting your Instagram account. Even in this case, Meta can retain the deleted account’s data “if your Threads content has been copied, reposted, or shared by other users”.
Instead of deleting your Threads account, you can deactivate it:
1) Click the two dashes at the top right corner of your Threads profile.
2) Select “account” and choose “deactivate profile”. Users won’t be able to view your content and profile, but your data will still be stored on the Thread servers.
Tips for growing your Threads following
It’s still early, and no one knows how the Threads algorithm works. Yet, there are simple ways to ensure that people see and engage with your content.
1. Post regularly: The more you post, the more likely people are to see your content and follow you. You can repurpose or cross-post existing content — as Truff does here.
Source: X (Twitter)
2. Share interesting content: People are likely to comment, like, and share interesting and engaging content.
3. Interact with other users: One of the best ways to grow your following on Threads is to interact with other users. Like their posts, comment on their posts, and reply to their comments.
4. Promote your Threads account on other social media platforms: Let your followers on other social media platforms know that you have a Threads account. You can share links to your Threads profile in your bio on other social media platforms.
Instagram Threads alternatives
If you’re not ready to jump on Threads, here are three Threads look-alike apps that might work for you.
Mastodon is a decentralized social media platform that is similar to X (Twitter) in many ways. It allows users to post short text updates, follow other users, and reply to posts.
Mastodon is also open source, which means that anyone can create their own instance of the platform.
Tumblr is a microblogging platform that allows users to post text, photos, videos, and links. Tumblr is known for its creative and expressive community and is a popular platform for artists, writers, and musicians.
Diaspora is a privacy-focused social media platform that is similar to X (Twitter). Diaspora is open source, which means that anyone can create their own instance of the platform.
4. Truth Social
Truth Social is a new social media platform former President Donald Trump launched. It aims to provide a space where users can freely express their opinions without fear of censorship. The platform promises to prioritize free speech and to be an alternative to other mainstream social media platforms. It is expected to have features such as user verification, live video streaming, and content moderation.
5. Bluesky Social
Bluesky Social is a microblogging platform co-founded by Jack Dorsey (yea, the same one from X (Twitter)).
Bluesky Social aims to create a decentralized social media ecosystem where users have more control over their data and the platform’s algorithms. It intends to foster open conversations and collaboration while addressing concerns about privacy and content moderation.
The app’s still in beta, and users can only gain access via an invite code.
How brands are using Threads
Wondering what type of content to post on Threads? Find inspiration for your content from these three brands.
There’s no better way to learn how to use an app than from its creators. The Thread account mostly engages followers through reposts and comments. It also shares app development updates and answers questions from its community.
Pro Tip: Use your Threads account to share the latest developments for your product and service and interact with your users.
2. Mr. Beast
Mr. Beast is the first creator to hit a million followers on Threads. How did he pull it off? By engaging his audience!
He launched a Tesla giveaway to celebrate Threads’ launch. Nearly 800,000 people interacted with the post through likes, reposts, and comments. As the post gained traction, so did Mr Beast’s following.
Pro Tip: Use giveaways to drive engagement to your Threads’ content.
Sephora is a personal care and beauty brand that sells a wide range of cosmetics, skincare, and hair care products. The brand has over 700,000 followers on Threads and uses the app to share behind-the-scenes videos, GIFs, and pop quizzes.
Pro Tip: Use interesting pop quizzes to encourage your audience to interact with your Threads’ posts.
Does your brand need a Threads account?
Short answer: It depends. There’s a lot of hype around Threads right now. The engagement level is sky-high, and many brands are jumping on the platform to boost their content’s reach and visibility and grow their audience.
Here are three things to consider as you make your decision:
- What percentage of our audience use Threads?
- Do we have the bandwidth and resources to create, engage and distribute content on a new social media platform?
- What’s our brand presence on Instagram like? A large Instagram following means you won’t spend time growing your account from scratch.
If your answer to these questions is yes, then hop on Threads asap. If not, you’re better off solidifying your presence on your existing social media platforms, for example Instagram itself.
Instagram Threads FAQs
Find answers to common Instagram Threads questions.
1. How do I start a Threads account?
Download the Threads app on your App Store or Play Store and log into the app via your Instagram account. If you don’t have an Instagram account, sign up for one, as you cannot access Threads without it.
2. How do you write a Thread on Instagram?
- Tap the compose button () at the bottom of your feed.
- Enter what you want to include in your thread. To attach a photo or video to your thread, tap the attach button () and select up to 10 items you want to attach. Tap Done (Android) or Add (iPhone) in the top right.
- Tap “Post” in the bottom right. You’ll see a progress bar at the top while your thread is being posted.
- To add to your thread, tap Add to thread. If your thread contains more than 500 characters, another thread will be added automatically.
3. Do you need an Instagram account for Threads?
Yes. You need to register for an Instagram account to use Threads.