Can Threads Hang On To Attract Advertisers?

Posted by Steve Olenski • Aug 8, 2023 2:02:25 PM

Can Threads Hang On To Attract Advertisers?

Forgive the attempted play on words there. While I don’t believe Threads, the latest social media platform darling is indeed, hanging on by a thread, there is some cause for concern after an initial IPO, if you will.

The initial headlines and numbers were nothing short of astonishing. Threads passes 30M sign-ups in less than 24 hours and Threads hits 100 million sign-ups within the first week are just two examples.

However, that was then and this is now: Threads active users have halved in a week, report says, and How Threads Can Avoid Unraveling.

So why the rapid fall from social media grace? Remember, the above articles were written only a few weeks apart.

Some Possible Reasons

I’ve identified some reasons behind the precipitous plunge.

The Bloom is off the Threads Rose.

Look, we all know it’s human nature to want to play with the latest, newest shiny toy. Whether we’re 5 or 50, that part of the human DNA will never change. If the other “kids” are playing, we want in. I think that is precisely what happened here with Threads. Lots of folks signed up. Lots of folks played with the new toy. Then lots of them left, which leads me to my next reason.

It's Just Too Confusing.

Joshua Lowcock, global chief media officer at UM Worldwide put it well when he said that “The Threads feed is a free for all — what you follow, what you don’t follow — it’s hard sometimes to make sense of the noise.” As a user myself, I can attest to this; it is an absolute free for all indeed and I very often get frustrated by it all and end up walking away.

It’s Not Twitter.

Let’s face it, a lot of us were hoping Threads would be the Anti-Twitter, or as the company itself put it, to make Threads a “positive” alternative to Twitter. Many advertisers were hoping this would be the case as well with so many slashing their ad spending on X by as much as 50% as reported by Elon Musk himself not long ago. But the fact is Threads is NOT Twitter; it does not offer anywhere near the same level of functionality as Twitter, or X, pardon me Elon.

What’s An Advertiser To Do?

As of right now, Threads does not provide for traditional advertising on the platform. However, a recent report from Axios revealed that Instagram is planning to bring its branded content tools to Threads, giving marketers a way to get involved with paid promotion on the app. Of course, brands and advertisers don’t need an official green light from a given platform to run an ad. They can and are doing this organically on Threads as we speak.

Then there is the issue of brand safety, a major reason why so many brands left Twitter in the first place and as Time recently reported, is keeping them away despite the company’s claim that its brand safety controls are now more than 99% effective in placing ads next to safe content.

As the Time piece asserts “… the damage may already be done. Advertisers have said they left Twitter because of concerns over harmful content — including Musk’s own posts.”

Natasha Blumenkron, the vice president of paid social at Tinuiti, a leading performance marketing firm says they’ve some of their customers pull back their ad spending on Twitter because of the brand safety concerns. “For our advertisers specifically, we haven’t seen them go back to Twitter.”

Closing Thoughts

It is very much a wait-and-see time for Threads and advertisers. The fact that so many have left and continue to do so is obviously cause for concern for advertisers. But I believe this will level off at some point and in fact users will come back once Threads provides more and more functionality i.e., a chronological timeline.

As for the issue of safety, Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, is on record saying “Threads will try to avoid courting news and politics content creators because the topics aren't worth the scrutiny and integrity risks that come along with policing them.”

That is good news for advertisers from a safety perspective but then the question is without timely topics will users stay engaged?

In fact, although Twitter had a great cross-section of users, the influence it had around key issues and people of influence in their fields (and their perspectives), was a key value driver for Twitter as a tool for marketers; some more relevant for some brands than others.  So as Threads forges its future, it may want to revisit this thinking as the power of true influencers across sectors lends brand messaging a hand, as some of these influencers live and operate within a political environment.

Stay tuned. The chapters are evolving for these two social platforms - and there could be more choices with time.

Topics: Social Media