Nothing captured first-day-of-school energy quite like the release of Threads, a text-based social media platform.

The launch of a new social network is typically met with equal doses of curiosity and concern. The response to Threads was different. Brands and the social media managers that run them took to the platform with enthusiasm. Sure, there was some stress—expressed mainly in the form of overworked social media manager memes—but most seemed excited about the novelty and potential of a new platform.

Sprout Social's first desktop Threads post. The post says, "Our first desktop Threads post. Is this thing on?". The post ends with the microphone emoji.

Threads has generated a lot of discussion since then. What role will it play in existing social media strategies? What do consumers think about it? Does it have staying power?

Our team has spent the last six months discussing these questions while experimenting with our approach to Meta’s latest platform. Along the way, we’ve learned quite a bit and have some hot takes on what’s coming next. Let’s walk through why brands should consider a Threads profile and Meta’s future plans for the platform.

What is Threads?

Threads is a social messaging platform focused on fostering authentic conversations. Users can post and share text, images and videos to join in public discussions. Threads was developed by Meta’s Instagram team and launched on July 5, 2023.

Why your brand should consider a Threads profile

Is your audience on Threads? It’s probably likely. A lot of users have gravitated to Threads, but that’s just one reason why brands should consider using it in their social media strategy.

It’s the fastest app to reach 100 million users

Threads reached 100 million users less than a week (five days) after its launch and is the most rapidly downloaded app ever, surpassing ChatGPT. The platform hit 1 million users within an hour while ChatGPT earned the same amount within five days.

The user base will continue to grow over the next few years

In Meta’s Q4 2023 earnings announcement, Mark Zuckerberg announced Threads has over 130 million monthly active users. Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, shared the news on his personal Threads account:

A post from Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, on his personal Threads account. He shares that in Meta's earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg announced Threads has over 130 million monthly active users.

You can appeal to an international audience

Along with the United States, India, Brazil, Mexico and Japan have the highest number of Threads users. If you want to appeal to an international audience, you might want to consider incorporating Threads into your social strategy. Appfigures reports Threads was the sixth most downloaded app across the world in December 2023.

Threads offers unique features

Threads will feel familiar to fans of text-based social media platforms. However, there are still differences that give the app a unique user experience.

For example, some of the network’s instant popularity can be attributed to an exceptionally simple registration process. Users are required to have an Instagram account to sign up, maintaining the same account name, username and password across both networks. Users also have the ability to cross-share content to Instagram Stories or Facebook, creating an integrated experience.

Key features as of February 2024 include:

  • A 500-character limit for text
  • Video posts can be up to five minutes long
  • Quick follow, which allows users to follow accounts they see in their feed without navigating to their profile. Users can simply tap the plus icon in the corner of the other user’s profile picture.
  • Reply controls allow users to tighten the reins on who can engage with a specific post. Users can choose between the following audiences: Anyone, Profiles you follow and Mentioned only.
  • Users can mute profiles by tapping the three dot menu on a post from the Threads account they’d like to mute.
  • Users can also hide words and phrases from appearing in their Threads feed by navigating to the Privacy menu and tapping Hidden words.
  • Tapping the Share button allows users to share Threads to their Instagram Story or grid.
  • Choose between two feed options by tapping the Threads logo at the top of the app: the For you feed displays posts from followed accounts, as well as recommended profiles. The Following feed displays posts only from profiles you follow.

How to create a Threads profile

To create a Threads profile, install the Threads app from the App Store or Google Play Store. If you already have the Instagram app downloaded, you can also search “Threads” and tap the ticket icon that appears in the search bar.

Two screenshots of the Threads sign up experience in the Instagram app. The first is a screenshot of the Instagram search tab, with the word “Threads” in the search bar. An admit one ticket icon is shown in the right side of the search bar. The second screenshot shows a black screen with a white pass featuring the Threads logo. At the bottom of the screen, there’s a button that says, “Open Threads.”

When you open the Threads app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to log in with Instagram. At this point, you can also decide whether you’d like to auto-follow the accounts you follow on Instagram, or if you’d like to select your following from scratch. Once you do that, you’re ready to start Threading.

Meta’s future plans for Threads

Since its launch in July 2023, Threads users have been dreaming up additional features for the app. Luckily, Meta’s been in the mood to grant wishes over the past few months. Mosseri uses his Threads account to confirm what’s in development for the app. According to Mosseri, there are tests for several platform updates including a trending topic feature and the ability to bookmark posts on Threads.

A Threads post from Adam Mosseri announcing the roll-out of a trending feature, which helps users find timely topics people are talking about on the platform.

Other plans include direct messaging and expanded search functionality.

A Threads post from Adam Mosseri sharing platform updates about the ability to bookmark posts on the platform.

Aside from ongoing feature releases, Meta is also working to build Threads into the fediverse. The fediverse is a new type of decentralized social media network infrastructure that will enable people to interact with users on independent but interconnected platforms, like Mastodon for example.

A post from Adam Mosseri sharing updates about Threads connection to the fediverse.

Sprout Social and Threads: Sprout is testing a Meta Threads API

Meta is testing a Threads API. We’ve been working with the Meta team behind the scenes as one of the first partners to help develop and test the Threads API. On Mar 1, 2024, all our customers got access to publish and schedule Threads in Sprout. And as of June 17, 2024, you can engage with and report on Threads in Sprout, too.

That’s right, in partnership with Meta, our Threads integration–complete with publishing, engagement and reporting—is available in Sprout to all customers.

The integration enables you to schedule and publish Threads posts (text, image, carousel and video) alongside the rest of your social content in Sprout, nourish authentic connections and loyalty on Threads and measure the contribution of Threads to your overall marketing strategy.

This means Sprout customers can build impactful social strategies on Threads with the most intuitive content planning, scheduling, engagement and reporting capabilities. Here’s what it looks like in practice:

  • Publishing: Use features like our patented ViralPost® technology and Sprout Queue to schedule content to post at the times proven to generate engagement from your social audiences. You can also use URL tracking, the asset library, approval workflows and other Sprout features for Threads. Plus, pair Threads publishing with Sprout’s Suggestions by AI Assist to get creative copy ideas for your posts.
  • Engagement: Connect with your audience and moderate comments on Threads from within Sprout’s Smart Inbox. You can view, hide and reply to comments directly in Sprout, making it easy to identify new conversation opportunities, respond to customer questions and use workflow tools to add tags, assign comments and manage Cases as messages come in.
  • Reporting: Measure and report on Threads metrics–likes, views, reposts, replies and quotes–in Sprout. Tell a holistic story with Threads and all your other social data in one place. Get a deeper understanding of your audience, customize reports for your business needs and compare how posts perform on Threads compared to other networks.

Manage your Threads campaigns seamlessly and evaluate how the platform contributes to your overall social strategy, so you can increase the reach of your content organically and build meaningful and long-lasting connections with your audience.

Since there’s currently no native scheduling, messaging or reporting features in Threads, this API is a game changer for brands already using Threads or those ready to join the platform. Test it today with a trial of Sprout, free for 30 days.

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Testing Threads: What we’ve learned since post-launch

We wouldn’t offer any advice we haven’t personally tried for ourselves. That’s why Sprout’s social team spent the last six months experimenting with Threads and exploring how it may impact the overall social media landscape. Here are some takeaways based on what we’ve learned through Sprout Social’s Threads account. Use these tips to lay the foundation for your Threads strategy.

Engagement is the big opportunity (at least for today)

Threads gained a record-breaking user base in just a few days. A near effortless signup experience combined with Meta’s influence in the social media industry made creating a profile an easy choice for brands and individuals alike.

Threads is available via mobile and desktop with a closed API. You can only view profiles and posts on desktop, but posting on the mobile version still feels personal.

A little attention from a brand can go a long way. While we wait for a native Threads analytics tool or API access—whichever comes first—we’re prioritizing quality of engagements over quantity. What we lack in concrete KPIs, we’re making up for in surprise and delight.

A post from Sprout Social on Threads about Elmo going viral and reminders about showing empathy to social teams. The post received a response from the official Instagram for Business Threads account.

However, we understand that senior leadership may not be too keen on dedicating time to a network that lacks the reporting functionality needed to prove its value. If you still believe Threads is the right play for your brand, sell them on the opportunity for 1:1 connections with customers, influencers and fans.

Threads is its own thing

If you haven’t noticed yet, text-based social media is having a moment.

You can’t talk about Threads without talking about X (formerly known as Twitter), BlueSky, Spill or any of the other emerging players in the social media landscape. Naturally, a lot of the conversation veers toward comparison. It seems there can only be one network to rule them all, and people want to know who it’s going to be.

The truth is, the social media landscape is fragmenting. A few networks have turned into many, each with their unique user base and engagement norms. It’s a new era of social media, all about authenticity and community—which will look different across platforms.

A Threads post from Sprout Social announcing the company was named the #1 Best Software Product by G2's 2024 Best Software Awards.

Although Threads has a similar user experience to other text-based social media networks, it has a different vibe. On top of that, the Instagram team has plans to continuously release features that will differentiate Threads from other social media networks.

Let consumers show you what they’re looking for

Every social media network has its original intended use, how people actually end up using it and all the features built to connect the two.

A venn diagram titled “The push and pull between social networks and audiences”. The left side of the venn diagram says, “A social network’s original intended use”. The right side says, “how people actually end up using it”. The center says, “The features built to bridge the gap.”

This push and pull can be seen in many of your favorite social networks. For example, TikTok is most commonly known as a platform for short-form videos, but photo slideshows and text posts are also popular.

Threads may be synonymous with text right now, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t using it to share photos and videos. When it comes to developing your strategy, embrace variety. Share a consistent mix of content types—static images, text, video, etc.—to narrow in on what people are responding to.

Are you thread-y for a new social media network?

Threads is still becoming itself. Right now, conversations on the network feel organic. There’s an intimacy that you can only find in an up-and-coming platform. As Threads continues to expand its daily active users and influence, the atmosphere will undoubtedly change.

Threads is worth considering as a place to experiment with your brand personality. How can your business sound more authentic online? How can you make customer care interactions feel more real? These are the questions you can unravel on Threads today by experimenting.

That said, running a new brand account is no small responsibility. If you’re still on the fence, watch our webinar about the rise and fall of new platforms—our panelists share more learnings about Threads and other emerging social media.