What Is Instagram Threads?! Everything That PR Pros Need to KnowAug 07, 2023
Everyone’s talking about Twitter’s (or should we call it X?) near-constant issues, which kicked off when Elon Musk took over in 2022. Tons of apps have tried to become the new Twitter in the chaos, but Meta’s Instagram Threads seems primed to actually compete — they reached the 100 million users milestone after just five days. But before you dive into Instagram Threads, let’s go over the brand-new platform’s details and need-to-know info on whether or not you should join.
What Is Instagram Threads?
Think of Instagram threads as a combination of Twitter and Instagram. It’s run by Meta, which means it’s linked to your Instagram account. You log into Threads with the same credentials as you would Instagram, and Meta links your Instagram account details to your Threads account, making it easy to quickly set up your profile. Your Instagram verification badge and your blocked list transfer over, too.
Threads is primarily text-based, but you can add photos, videos (up to five minutes in length), and links to your posts. Unlike Twitter, Instagram Threads has a 500-character limit on every post. It’s still short-form content, but you have more space to talk to your audience.
You can like posts, repost them (like a retweet), quote repost (aka quote retweet), or reply to posts. Since Threads is integrated with Instagram, you can easily share your Threads content on your Instagram account, whether as a post or on your Stories.
Why You Should Hop on Instagram Threads ASAP
Instagram Threads seems like it’ll just get bigger and bigger. As a PR pro, you need to decide if you want to use it to reach new media contacts or if it’s a trend to pass on. Here are three of the biggest advantages of jumping onto Instagram Threads ASAP.
Early Adopters Are Ready to Try New Things
People aren’t just jumping ship from Twitter because they’re frustrated with the platform (though that certainly plays a role!). Early adopters of new tech are curious about up-and-coming products and trends and always want to try the latest and greatest.
That’s huge for PR pros! Potential clients and media contacts want to see that you’re plugged into new tech developments and aren’t afraid to explore a growing platform. You’ll be seen not just as a PR expert, but as a potential authority on Instagram Threads as well.
The app is still in its early stages, so there’s a better chance for you to carve out your space there. This could be an additional platform to connect with your existing contacts, or it could put you in front of new eyes and capture the attention of people who wouldn’t have found you otherwise. People on Threads are just sharing their everyday thoughts without the pressure of creating content for a specific platform or audience. As the platform grows and more users join, you’ll have more opportunities to expand your reach and find new contacts in your niche.
It’s Easy to Adopt Into Your Existing Social Strategy
Since Instagram Threads is so similar to Twitter, it’s easy to employ a similar social strategy on both platforms. But you need to remember that this is an Instagram-based audience: use your Instagram Insights to identify what types of content work best with your Instagram followers and adapt them to Threads. You can repurpose your older content (whether from Twitter or Instagram) for Threads, just with a fresh twist on each post.
You also have a larger character limit, so this is a chance to try out longer content to build your network. Microblogging is a great use of Instagram Threads! You can share short insights or lessons with your audience, just with more space to elaborate than you would on Twitter or Instagram Stories.
Short-form thought leadership further establishes your credibility in your space. Sharing quick, compelling messages shows your value as a PR pro, which brings in more media contacts and potential clients. This all helps build trust with your audience, whether that’s made up of your media partners or other comms pros.
Paid Ads Are a No-Go on Threads
Yep — there’s no paid advertising on Instagram Threads at the time of writing. That means you have endless opportunities to experiment with your content. You literally have nothing to lose!
Threads is super low-pressure right now. You have time to explore the platform and figure out how you want to incorporate Instagram Threads into your agency. This is the time to try out new types of content (like microblogging) or find new collaborators, whether for yourself or your clients.
The lack of paid content can help establish trust with audiences, too. We’ve all gotten annoyed by ads (and companies) that follow us everywhere, right? That’s not an issue on Threads. People there are very anti-marketing, but it won’t stay that way forever. Finding a new brand or contact through a post that’s not an ad can feel more organic and lead to stronger relationships.
Why You Might Want to Wait to Join Instagram Threads
For all the good that Instagram Threads can do for your media relationships, there’s still a lot to consider before you dive headfirst into the platform. Here are a few of the biggest drawbacks to searching for new media contacts on Threads right now.
There’s a Long List of Features We’re Still Waiting On
Instagram launched Threads after a massive Twitter meltdown…but the app wasn’t quite ready yet. Early users are already asking for features that weren’t functional for the rushed launch. And due to privacy concerns, Instagram Threads isn’t even available in the EU. Some companies and media contacts won’t be able to access Threads until who knows when!
As of writing, here are the features we’re still waiting on:
- A web interface — Instagram Threads is app-only for now
- The ability to directly message individual users…which could make building new connections tougher
- An option to only allow people you follow to reply to your threads
- The ability to edit threads after posting them
- AI-generated translations and alt-image text for photos
- In-app supported GIFs
The Algorithm Makes It Hard to See the Content You Want
Another thing on that long list of TBD features? A chronological feed of content from people you follow. When you join Instagram Threads, you’ll automatically follow the Threads accounts of everyone you follow on Instagram. But as of the time of writing, there’s no way to see a feed of posts from everyone you follow.
The current Threads feed is algorithm-based, so it’ll show you content it thinks you want to see. It’s like your Twitter or TikTok For You page. The people you follow might come up, but you’re just as likely to see posts from accounts you don’t follow. It’s also not chronological, so you could see hours- or even days-old posts at the top of your feed. Not ideal for keeping up with industry news…
On one hand, this is a great way for people to discover your agency or for you to discover new media contacts! But on the other, this makes it hard for you to get news as it breaks and for engaged followers to see your posts as soon as they go live.
Another drawback is that there are no hashtags on Instagram Threads, so even if you had a brand- or niche-specific hashtag, people can’t follow it — and you can’t use hashtags to find Threads-based media contacts in your niche. The search function is lacking in general, adding another obstacle to discovering new users. As more people join Threads, it’ll be harder for your posts to be seen (and for you to see others’ posts).
To Delete Your Threads Account, You Have to Delete Your Instagram
This is the big one that’s keeping a lot of people from joining Instagram Threads in the first place: once you open a Threads account, it’s not going anywhere as long as your Instagram account is active. This may not be a huge worry for large companies, but the average user isn’t willing to risk their Instagram history in favor of a new platform. The same goes for your media contacts — this may prevent them from ever jumping on Threads.
There’s no telling if or when this feature will be disabled. There doesn’t seem to be the same level of integration between Instagram Threads and Facebook, so changes to your Facebook profile shouldn’t affect your Threads account. As of right now, you can only deactivate your Threads account, which will hide your profile from other Threads users. It won’t fully delete your account or your data, though.
So, are you going to join Instagram Threads? There’s a lot to love about Threads, from its no-pressure, ad-free environment to the potential to find a host of new media contacts. But since the app is still so new, there are a lot of crucial features that haven’t been implemented yet. Every PR pro will have to decide for themselves whether or not this is a platform worth joining.