Will Threads' fame be short-lived or will this be the next big conversational social platform? WGSN’s experts share their first thoughts and predictions, including how the app will impact consumer behaviour, what improvements we’re expecting from Meta and how brands should approach the new platform.
Just two hours after the launch of Threads, Instagram’s new real-time conversational platform, Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s chief executive, reported that the app exceeded 2m downloads. Four hours in, the app reached 5m sign-ups and by the next day there were 30m users. The app even surpassed the pace of ChatGPT, which had 1m sign-ups in the first five days of its launch.
Consumer behaviour and marketing implications for Threads
“Audiences and users can sometimes get lost in the hype surrounding a shiny new app – think back to BeReal, which skyrocketed and eventually fell. Although, Threads does feel a bit different at this moment. Emerging under the Meta umbrella, it’s lured 100m of the 1bn active Instagram users to transition to a new Twitter-like space at a time when many are looking to push away from the app. Twitter is set to lose 32.7m users by 2024.
“We all know the stats about doom and gloom performing better on Twitter and social media being responsible for an emotional and self-esteem crisis for young women in particular, but Threads appears to be aiming to create a safer space, leaning into kindness as a KPI (which is fitting given Meta has been busy rolling out tools such as kindness nudges that discourage bullying on Instagram), though it’s not exactly clear how this will take shape. It does play into this idea of rewilding digital spaces, which we’re forecasting to take off in the years ahead, with platforms having to step up and centre the safety and wellbeing of the human user.
"From an infrastructure perspective, so much of the app is still being built, though it does seem to have ambitions as it will integrate into the fediverse, possibly giving creators the autonomy to move between platforms with fans in ways previously not possible.
“We’re seeing many play into the mass casualisation of marketing and messaging that thrives online among young users, making them seem more human-like and friendlier. Look to DTC fashion label Hill House Home, which asked Thread followers what they were wearing, which generated nearly 50 replies in day one (small, but significant engagement for such early days on a new app).
“While Threads might just become another space to live life chronically online, the engagement it’s currently generating is pushing marketers to take stock of the situation. Will every brand have a Threads strategy someday? I think it’s too soon to tell, but marketers should use this time to experiment and forge relationships with followers in a new casual and intimate space.”
- Cassandra Napoli, Senior Strategist, WGSN Insight
“The sheer momentum that is behind this app is unprecedented and worth taking a moment to highlight. It's been one week and over 100m users have signed up, far surpassing even ChatGPT.
“Following the mass user exodus of Twitter and Facebook, I think brands and retailers are really using the opportunity here to pause and reset, taking with them learning from fallen social media has-beens.
“Following privacy concerns, I'm betting we’ll see Threads expand to more user-forward spaces, such as decentralised social media hub Fediverse. For mass retailers, I also think they'll use the app to broaden their social impact, making the world around us a little smaller by highlighting niche references and IYKYK communities.”
- Candice Medeiros, Strategist, WGSN Insight
Consumer tech and user experience
“I’ve been impressed by the user experience to date. It’s clean and user-friendly, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves.
“The Instagram handover was quick and painless, and the app’s minimal interface has benefited from the lack of adverts. While I don’t expect this to last, it’s been a pleasant change to other platforms and I think it’s helped maintain the positive atmosphere on Threads since its launch.
“Despite the positives, one thing I am wary of is any company having a monopoly over social media. Competition drives innovation and can help us create healthier and more trustworthy online spaces.”
- Matt Zara, Trend Forecaster and Editor, WGSN Consumer Tech
How beauty brands are approaching the platform
“It is going to be interesting to see how visually led beauty brands will work with a text-based platform like Threads. At this point, most brands are just posting about being on the platform rather than diving into branded strategy, but soon enough, beauty brands will be adopting a more mellow, positive approach to content. They’re showing strong follower growth, with many expressing expectations of creating more intimate, casual conversations with customers.
“The casual energy of the platform is begging brands to be more ‘real’ with their consumers. I personally expect to see a studied form of ‘unhingedness’ that eventually might come across as inauthentic. Beauty brands will have to work hard to maintain a balance of authenticity, education and entertainment.
“Another element of Threads that is currently being tested by brands is the length of its censorship. Period products, sexual wellness and CBD-based beauty brands are all testing the waters at the moment to see how far they can discuss their products.”
- Megan Bang, Analyst, WGSN Beauty
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