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What Is Instagram Threads and Does it Have a Place in Your Marketing Strategy?

Threads app on phone screen stock image.

If you’ve been anywhere on social media in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard the buzz about “Threads,” the newest app sweeping the digital landscape. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably wondered, “What is it exactly?”

In this article, we break down what Threads is and some key terms to know about the platform. We’ll also examine the success of its launch and review its capabilities and shortcomings to see if it’s worth adding to your digital marketing strategy.

Let’s get threading!

What is Threads?

Built as a rival to X (formerly Twitter), Threads is a unique social networking platform integrated with Instagram.

According to the app’s parent company Meta, Threads “offers a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations.” It’s designed to be the text sharing companion to Instagram’s traditional platform for sharing videos, photos, and reels. But that doesn’t mean Threads is limited to text alone!

In addition to sharing up to 500 characters of text in a thread (up from X’s 280), Thread users can also include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.

That means that linking out and sharing more diverse mediums of content has now been made even easier, considering regular Instagram posts are limited to content sharing without linking.

Threads Terminology

While stitching into Threads, it’s important to understand a few key terms associated with navigating the platform.

Since you’re an avid social media lover already, you’re probably familiar with most of the terms, but let’s see how Instagram defines them in their “Threads Dictionary”!

  • Threads – the name of the newest Instagram-hosted connective app
  • thread – just another word for a discussion
  • post (noun) – an individual piece of text or media
  • post (verb) – to publish content
  • reply – responding to someone else’s post or thread
  • repost – sharing someone else’s post to your profile (think of this almost like a “retweet” on X)
  • quote – sharing someone else’s post to your profile + your own thoughts (again, like a retweet but with your own added comment or the “Repost with your thoughts” option on LinkedIn)

See, not too bad! With any new app, there will always be a learning curve so it’s important to remain patient and curious as you explore.

That exploration phase also means you might encounter a few features that are less than desirable. Let’s break down some of the shortcomings we’re seeing so far with Threads and how you might be able to work around them.

Are There Any Limitations of Threads?

If you’re wondering “What can’t you do on Threads?” social users aren’t shy about what they’re seeing. Here are some of the biggest drawbacks being noted online.

  • Must Have an Instagram: In order to sign up for and use Threads, users must have an existing Instagram profile. Because the app relies on the shared connection between the two, that means users wanting to enjoy Threads will first need to establish an Instagram account if they do not already have one.
  • Limited Searchability: So far, this version of Threads only allows you to use the search function to find other Threads users. You cannot “Explore” or search for specific content with keywords like on Instagram or X, limiting users’ searching to only the specific accounts they follow.
  • Can’t Delete Account: As of now, once you sign up for a Threads account that is tied to an Instagram profile, you cannot delete the Threads profile without also deleting the linked Instagram profile. So, be sure you’re setting up the account correctly from the beginning to avoid any unwanted loss of data.
  • Unable to Save Content: Whereas Instagram gives users the option to “Save” a post for later, this isn’t the case so far with Threads. If you want to reference a specific post, currently the best option is to repost or quote the thread so you can find it in your Thread feed later on.
  • No Direct Messages: Unlike Instagram and even X, Threads does not allow you to send a direct message (DM) to other users. This can be seen as positive or negative depending on how the user wants to engage with the platform. If you need to slide into someone’s DMs, the best workaround now is to go to that user’s linked Instagram account and send a message there.

Keep in mind this is still the initial version of the Threads app. We will likely see more updated features and account settings as the Threads team collects more user insights and makes future versions of the app.

So don’t let a few pain points stop you from giving it a try on your personal account!

Now you may be wondering “Is Threads worth adding to my digital marketing strategy?” To better answer that, let’s take a look at the initial user data.

How Successful Was Threads Launch?

It’s been about one month since the release of the initial iteration of Threads, let’s see how well it fared in the digital landscape in its first week.*

And while these may seem positive on the surface, a closer look at the usage data reveals that Threads is struggling to keep users on the platform. For example, since July 7:

  • Average daily usage time has fallen from 21 minutes to about 4 minutes
  • Overall daily active users have fallen to around 13 million

Additionally, of those 150 million+ downloads:

This suggests that at least as of today, Threads has a relatively small audience of engaged users when compared to more established platforms like X, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.

With any new app, engagement statistics are expected to shift as more people become accustomed to the app and as new features become available. So be on the lookout for more updated stats!

What is the Future of Threads?

As a digital marketing agency, we don’t believe that Threads has the power to end X as some social users have speculated. Even amidst current public scrutiny and a major rebrand from the former Twitter, X still has over 237 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU) and will likely continue to hold a strong presence in the digital world.

When it comes to digital marketing, it may still be too early to tell how Threads can make an impact. Given a few of its limited features and small audience with little diversity in user demographics, we believe that Threads shouldn’t be the main focus of your digital marketing strategy just yet.

For the time being, your time, efforts, and budgets will be more effective in other more established platforms. But we’ll continue to monitor the usage and engagement trends of Threads to determine if future versions of the app will offer the right platform for you to display your brand’s unique personality.

Only time will tell!

What Do You Think?

Is Instagram Threads the next go-to social platform to watch? And would use add it to your digital marketing strategy?

Let us know!


*Note: This data was collected in late July 2023 and is subject to change.

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