Date posted

06 Jul 2023

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A first look at Instagram’s Threads

The anticipated fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg seems to have found a new battleground in the world of social media. However, this time, the competitors are not the individuals themselves, but rather two media platforms: Twitter, and Instagram’s new ‘Threads‘ feature. With rumours swirling around about Twitter potentially becoming a paid access app, Zuckerberg, the owner of Meta, has seen an opportunity and a potential gap in the market.

But what do we know so far? And most importantly, what does this mean for our advertising?

Say more with Threads

Scheduled for release today (Thursday the 6th of July 2023), ‘Threads’ will allow users to retain their followers from their Instagram profiles and keep the same usernames, making it incredibly convenient for people to sign up for the new platform. As they have done previously with the likes of Facebook, Meta continues to push a central account centre where users can integrate and manage all of their Meta profiles. With Instagram forecasted to boast 1.35 billion users in 2023, it’s highly likely that the migration of users to the new app will be very successful.

Elon Musk recently made an announcement about implementing new restrictions on Twitter, which limits the number of tweets users can view per day. This development, coupled with the speculation of Twitter potentially becoming a paid app, has sparked concerns about the future of the platform. Many are left wondering how many users might switch to alternative platforms like Threads. Given that more than 60% of Instagram’s users are aged between 18 and 34, it is likely that Gen Z will be the early adopters of this new platform. This influx of younger users could bring fresh perspectives to Meta’s Facebook-based arcade data and help them to keep the hegemony between younger generations, especially considering that only 2.9% of UK teens aged 13 to 17 continue using Facebook

A new audience for Instagram?

Threads will continue the same data collection practices as its Meta predecessors (Facebook and Instagram), and those interested in pre-ordering the app (currently available only on the app store) are forewarned about the types of data that will be collected. So what does this mean for advertisers?

According to statistics, the most popular age group on Twitter worldwide is 25-34-year-olds, while on Instagram, the audience skews slightly younger, with 18 to 24-year-olds being the most prominent. While this may not be groundbreaking news, the focus should shift towards older age groups. Currently, 20.7% of people aged 35 to 49 are on Twitter, while on Instagram, only 15.7% of users fall into the 35-44 age group, decreasing further to 8.4% for those aged between 45-54. Zuckerberg’s move to introduce ‘Threads’ could potentially attract a new audience to Instagram, previously difficult to reach, thereby opening up new advertising possibilities for companies targeting these age groups.

A new opportunity for advertisers?

As for the appearance of ads on Threads, it’s still too early to say, and we’ll have to wait for the app’s launch. However, it is reasonable to assume that Meta will take cues from Twitter in terms of ad formats. To recap, Twitter offers three different types of ads: promoted ads (or promoted tweets), follower ads (suggesting users to follow), and trend takeover and trend takeover+ ads (displaying your ads next to trends).

Regarding ad creation, it is likely that the process will be available through Business Manager and the ads will be displayed within the placement options at the ad set level. However, we will need to wait a few weeks to know all the details and options that this new social media platform can provide. 

When exactly we’ll be able to advertise on ‘Threads’ is still unknown, but looking to historical examples of ads being introduced on other platforms as a guide, Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and gradually integrated advertising, with formats introduced in late 2013. Similarly, ads were introduced on Reels in less than a year. Based on these timelines, we can speculate that the new social media platform may follow suit.

More to come

Overall, the introduction of Threads by Instagram presents an exciting opportunity for advertisers to tap into a new audience previously harder to reach on the platform. It will be interesting to see what advertising options and possibilities Meta brings to the table with this new venture.