Zeno Thinks: THREADS UNRAVELED: An in-depth look from the team at Zeno
Meta launched Threads this week to significant fanfare. At time of writing, they have already raced to 100 million users and attracted many brands to the platform.
But what does the team at Zeno think? Here’s a unique view into our chat today:
- Rob Stone: Head of Z3
- Gabi Raison: Associate Director, Digital
- David Lucas: Head of Technology
- Ben Cooper: Director, Digital
- Katie Boulton: Director, Brand
- Lucy Ruff: Account Director, Digital
- Richard Price: Editorial Director
Rob: So, over 100 million users already and rising rapidly, lots of brands jumping on and a lawsuit from Twitter. Quite a lively start! What are your first impressions?
Ben: The memes are meme-ing! Brands such as Netflix, Pepsi and Wendy's have been coming in hot to jump on the conversation
David: It feels fresh and clean, and the fact that you don't have to start from scratch in following people has made it easy to get stuck in quickly. On the flipside, without search/hashtags or the ability to only see Threads from accounts that you follow, it can be difficult to know what you're looking at. Hopefully there's a fix coming for this. The realisation that some of the accounts you follow on Instagram don't translate well into text-based updates has also meant some fast unfollows.
Gabi: It definitely feels like something fresh and that we needed, with a lot of people excited to get stuck in (and lots already admitting they're hooked). It feels fun and without too many rules so far but some people are certainly nailing it more than others with some people just reposting the same content as on Instagram
I started importing all my follows from Instagram then swiftly unfollowing because some accounts don't translate well to threads (and I wanted to have a bit of a fresh start for the new platform)
Rob: I think that transition from video and image content to text will be a tough one for some. There's an art to Twitter that isn't always native to those who spend more time on Instagram. Agree that the timeline feels a lot less curated at the moment though, assume it will take them a while to use the data they're collecting to figure out what people want to see.
Lucy: I've actually noticed a lot of people are still sharing video and images - and have commented that it's much better quality than twitter / lets you share longer videos.
Richard: So, I'm late to the party on this convo but have strong opinions. And naturally I come from the perspective of a journalist/story hunter/cynic (only now with the added perspective of someone who does a lot of leadership comms, so can see how important these channels are from both sides)
The content being hurled at me is waaaaaay off the mark. Threads from Coldplay and Girls Aloud? This is one of those occasions when I wish Meta were much MORE familiar with my data. Only a troll would recommend those two accounts to me.
There is a reason why Twitter is far and away the most popular social media for journalists. I mostly lurk on Twitter, posting rarely, but the people I follow are carefully curated. That took time to build. It will take a lot of tweaking - and no small amount of engagement on my part - to reach a similar point on Threads.
Rob: What's the best brand entry you've seen? I have been a little surprised at the lack of creativity from some of them, especially given how much time they had to prepare something.
Ben: Lyft wins for me - simple and bold! https://www.threads.net/t/CuVvSXDthID/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
Lucy: Greggs also killing it as per
Rob: I saw a few brands just reposting content from Twitter. Extremely low effort.
Rob: Was anyone concerned about handing over their finance, shopping and browsing data to Meta? Or that if you want to delete your Threads account you have to delete your Instagram account?
Ben: A question I kept seeing cropping up yesterday.... "HAS ANYONE READ THE T&C's?!"
Katie: For me it all felt a little tooooo easy to port everything over, I also started with a fresh follow base, instinctively it felt like the slow and steady thing to do!!
I agree on the T&Cs no one (typically) reads them generally
David: How much of this is different to what other Meta apps collect though? It's always scary to see it listed out but we're probably sharing this information with other social media apps already.
Richard: No. Trying to be protective of my data now is the definition of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. It's too late for me to worry about that sort of thing.
Rob: I guess we are just so used to handing over that kind of data these days that nobody really thinks about it. They all collect different data, but Threads is probably future-proofing itself with the sheer volume of what it is collecting, and there's some concerns about what people might be given up in terms of health data.
On the flip side - brands are going to be able to use all of that data to target customers on the platform. It's going to be a powerful advertising offering with all of the other data they have from facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Gabi: I have to say, I find the fact you can't delete your account without also deleting your Instagram account strange. clearly a move to avoid people making an account, playing around for 2 days then deleting but that did make me pause.
Rob: But ultimately, it didn't stop you!
Gabi: Well.. yes haha
David: It's also a good reminder for people to be careful what they say now, as there's no easy way to delete everything in 10 years when someone digs up a problematic post that they didn't think anyone would remember.
Katie: I think also its a different medium to insta therefore potentially different audience – I didn't want what would be a weird request going to my parents for example!!
Rob: What do you make of the censorship we've seen so far? One of the big differences with Twitter will likely be what we're able to see, with twitter going down the community notes route but not removing much, but Threads already removing posts and flagging accounts.
David: Threads is really caught between a rock and a hard place on this. Giving too much freedom is going to quickly take it down some of the paths that have led people to fall out of love with Twitter, but not giving enough will put also put people off. My concern is that each platform ends up playing to certain audiences, and both end up becoming an echo chamber for people with those views.
Richard: I really don't mind because if I want to hear the opinions they are censoring I'll just log in to Gab or Parler. As far as I can see, serious opinions are not being censored. It's just the bullhorn-wielding agitators.
Katie: We’re seeing some reports that you can delete your Threads account without deleting Instagram, is that correct?
Lucy: You can deactivate your account but not delete it. Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram) clarified that you can deactivate your account, which hides your Threads profile and content. At the moment Threads is powered by Instagram, so they’re all one account.
Gabi: Has anyone else seen posts from people comparing to myspace? Someone was asking whether you should thank people for the follow, like back in the day
Rob: Definitely some nostalgia going around. I saw one user asking if they could import their Myspace friends.
Rob: What do you think is a good brand strategy for Threads now? Should they wait and see how things work, or do you think jumping in and quickly building an audience is a better approach?
Gabi: I would say it depends a bit on the brand and their appetite for risk. But I feel that there's kudos for the brands that jump on early and do it well (like ben's examples above)
David: People are curious, so it's a good time to capitalise on that. Strategy and tone can be refined as the platform gets established.
Katie: I also think people are craving a space that isn't as toxic as others - saw a post from ole Steven Bartlett who had been on in advance and said he had seen very little and long may it last. I mean, there is a reality check but interesting notion.
Rob: Any final thoughts before we wrap this up?
Richard: Threads already seems to be falling into some sort of shape. The "positive vibes" are helped by the fact that you can't search. Watching the BBC presenter controversy unfold on Twitter has been fascinating - and almost unremittingly negative. V different on Threads, as it is so much more conversational and less adversarial.
Threads in its current guise cannot do what Twitter does. Steven Bartlett posted last night that "if Threads doesn't work out, our collective walk of shame back to Twitter... is going to be embarrassing as f*ck". He's missing the point. Why should it be a case of either/or? You can have both - and I'm happy to do so.
Lucy: Not going to lie, since I downloaded Threads my Instagram app has been a nightmare and I keep having to reinstall it so that content will load. Rather ironically, I actually had a look on Twitter to see if anyone else was having the same problem (you can’t search for topics on Threads) and it seems to be a common issue. I’ve also seen some influencers complain that their posts have bombed on Instagram and they think it’s because they haven’t downloaded Threads yet … hopefully these teething problems will iron out soon and the apps will run seamlessly together.