Showing all posts tagged: Threads

Threads first birthday gift to users: advertising?

5 July 2024

Break out the coffee and the cake: a celebration is on the cards. Tomorrow, Threads, Meta’s answer — and much needed foil — to X/Twitter, notches up its first birthday. I was there as the platform began rolling out, and managed to score (just) a relatively low (five-figure) badge number. 98,522 for the record. These membership number badges were, for a time, displayed on a member’s corresponding Instagram (IG) page. Mark Zuckerberg’s IG page boasted the surely desirable number one badge.

But the badges have long since vanished, and Threads, after a few fits and starts, has taken its place — albeit if engagement is on the lower side — with the other micro-blogging style social media platforms, including Mastodon and Bluesky. And with one-hundred-and-seventy-five million active monthly users, it’s probably been a good first year for Threads.

In contrast, X/Twitter didn’t reach the same number of active monthly users until well into 2012, some six years after launching. But making these sorts of comparisons between Threads versus what was then Twitter, isn’t all that helpful. Twitter had to start from scratch. It was, just about, the first of its kind. I still recall some the discussions around X/Twitter, following its debut. A lot of people weren’t sure exactly what the platform was about, or what it was meant to achieve.

X/Twitter’s relatively slow uptake could be partly attributed to this bafflement that enveloped the platform. By the time Threads arrived though, we were all seasoned social media platform users. On top of that, it was a simple matter of clicking a button on your IG page, to become a Threads member. The boost IG and — to a lesser extent — Facebook, gave Threads, cannot be understated.

Aside though from posting what I call an online journal entry daily, I don’t really do much on Threads, or any of the social media platforms, for that matter. But I do get drawn into some of the conversations that appear, courtesy of the Threads algorithm, in my main feed. These posts are an intriguing combination of day to day happenings and situations. There are retellings of encounters with people nice, and not so nice. Of dating disasters, and weird goings-on at work.

In a sense, these posts from people I don’t follow, or even know of, are akin to the “suggested for you” content that litters many an IG feed. Somehow though, these Threads posts don’t seem quite as annoying, or intrusive, as the — and I won’t mince my words here — shit that features on IG. My big hope for Threads is that it doesn’t go the way of IG, which now borders on the unbearable. But Threads may become a little more IG-like in another way: the presence of ads.

While the prospect is apparently being considered, it may still be a year before ads begin making an appearance on the platform. To my mind, this is not so much a question of what happens, but rather, the way it happens. Threads needs to turn a profit. We, the users, cannot have this online playground to frolic on, without there being someway for Meta to pick up the tab.

Ads of some sort seem reasonable to me. As I say, it comes down to the way, rather than the what. Perhaps then there will be a measured approach to advertising. Or, worst case, perhaps not. The devil is very much going to be in the details here.


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Threads web version here soon, Font Awesome glyph available

22 August 2023

Threads users have been waiting for a bevy of features to be added to the micro-blogging platform, and it looks like a web version — something I’ve certainly been looking forward to — may arrive in a few days. Last week Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram (and I guess Threads), said Meta had been working on a web version for “a week or two”, but added that more work had been needed.

Being able to cross-post across platforms such as Instagram, Mastodon, Facebook, and Twitter/X, by way of the web is an absolute boon for me. No doubt there’s an app that does this, but I prefer the flexibility of being able to copy, paste, and alter posts, while going from one browser tab to another.

In other news, and I don’t know when this happened, but a Font Awesome Threads glyph has also become available. There’s only the one version at the moment, but maybe there will be more later.



Threads still among top apps at Apple and Google

21 August 2023

John Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball last week:

At this moment, Threads is #2 on the App Store’s top free downloads list, and X is #51. On the Play Store, Threads is #6 and X is (scroll, scroll, scroll…) #66. This rebranding would be a firing offense if the mastermind behind it didn’t own the company. (So much for Threads being the one that’s supposedly gasping for air.)

Despite the good app install numbers, engagement reportedly remain low on Meta’s rival to Twitter/X. Abené Clayton, writing for The Guardian, says Threads saw 576,000 active users in August, compared to over two million in July.

Threads is up against a few competitors, Mastodon and Bluesky to name a few, so the market is perhaps a little crowded. I would add Twitter/X to that list, but owner Elon Musk seems intent on destroying the platform, and in the process, his plans for… world domination.


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You don’t get 100,000,000 followers without telling a few stories

15 August 2023

After reading Move fast and beat Musk: The inside story of how Meta built Threads, by Naomi Nix and Will Oremus of The Washington Post, I’m certain the story behind the launch of Meta’s rival to Twitter, Threads, is ripe for adaptation to the big screen.

In exactly the same way The Accidental Billionaires, the 2009 book by American author Ben Mezrich, about the founding of Facebook, spawned the 2010 David Fincher made movie, The Social Network.

All the ingredients of a thriller-like race against time are there. Trust me. So here I am, calling action.

First, opportunity presents itself:

The mercurial Musk had just taken over Twitter. Amid the ensuing chaos, [head of Instagram Adam] Mosseri’s boss at rival Meta smelled opportunity.

Next there are senior Meta executives on family holidays in Europe, taking breathless phone calls from their boss in the middle of the night:

It was nighttime in Italy, and Mosseri spoke softly to avoid waking his sleeping wife. The group discussed Twitter-like features they could add to existing apps, including Instagram.

What? Enhance an existing app to make it look like something it isn’t? Are you for real? No, the boss wants to land the legendary three-thousand pound marlin here:

Zuckerberg, however, had a different idea: “What if we went bigger?”

Now that exact requirements are understood, and the enormity of the task at hand can be seen in the cold light of day, the inevitable panic begins to set in:

“Oh God, we’ve got to figure this out, because [Zuckerberg is] very excited about this,” Mosseri recalled thinking. “Sometimes you can tell when he kind of gets his teeth into something.”

The last thing, of course, you want to do is disappoint the boss. But you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough get going:

With a mandate from Zuckerberg to take a big risk, Mosseri assembled a lean, engineer-heavy team of fewer than 60 people to hack together a bare-bones app on a breakneck timetable more reminiscent of a start-up than an entrenched tech giant.

That paragraph sounds like it packs a punch, but a sixty person team is hardly “reminiscent of a start-up”. Instagram, which Threads is built upon, was, at the beginning, the work of two people, Michel Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But who cares? This is the movies, and all audiences want is a great story.

And size of the development team notwithstanding, there were challengers aplenty. Mainly what product features not to include, rather than what to ship:

To keep things moving, the Threads team punted thorny decisions and eschewed difficult features, including private messages and the ability to search for content or view the feeds of people you don’t follow.

But the clock is ticking. No one knows when the competitor — he who must not be named — might snatch back possession of the ball, and wrest the game away from the team we’re barracking for. But (naturally) such fears prove to be unfounded:

That night, a “core group” worked together at Meta headquarters while Mosseri and other team members chatted on an internal messaging forum, watching the sign-ups pour in. Mosseri recalled astonished team members asking, “Are we sure about these numbers? Can someone double-check that the logging isn’t messed up?”

And there we have it, the happy ending. One hundred million app signups. But wait, how can you call ever declining engagement, and plummeting time spent on the platform, a happy ending? Of course you can’t, but don’t you see where this is going? Wait for it. Wait for it. To a sequel, of course.

Watch this space, you will not be disappointed.


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ABC streamlines Twitter/X activity, Musk calls it censorship

14 August 2023

Last week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reduced the number of active pages it has on Twitter/X to just four. The Triple J page, which I follow, was among accounts to be archived. David Anderson, managing director of the ABC, says the move follows a trial in February this year, when three accounts were shuttered:

“In February we closed three program accounts, for Insiders, News Breakfast and ABC Politics, and the results of that have been positive,” he said. Mr Anderson said the reduced activity will allow staff to focus “on the accounts that overwhelmingly provide the most value.”

The ABC has been the subject of a number of rounds of staff cuts in recent years, and doubtless archiving some of the Twitter/X pages will reduce staff workloads. Twitter/X owner Elon Musk, however hit back at the decision, labelling it censorship:

Well of course they prefer censorship-friendly social media. The Australian public does not.

What does he mean censorship, and since when has Musk had it down with the Australian public? The ABC is operating on plenty of other channels, including their website, television and radio, along with other social media services such as Facebook.

The ABC also have a number of active Threads accounts, and are looking into boosting their presence there further. Here’s hoping the page of the aforementioned Triple J is among them.


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Boost Threads engagement by making the platform more useful

31 July 2023

Photo of intertwined blue rope and threads, by Igor Ovsyannykov

Image courtesy of Igor Ovsyannykov.

The number of people using Threads, Meta’s micro-blogging app, together with the amount of time they are spending there, has continued to decline, according to Israeli web analytics company, Similarweb. It’s certainly not what a lot of people would have expected, given Threads’ awe inspiring debut in early July. Meta however maintain they are not surprised by the latest numbers, and perhaps for good reason.

While Threads signed on a record one-hundred million members in a matter of days, that could be largely attributed to the ease of joining. If you had an Instagram (IG) account, as do some two billion people, joining Threads was almost as simple as pressing a button. A person’s IG profile information was copied straight over to their Threads page, as were their followers, who had the option to follow back if and when they joined.

Aside from early adopters scrambling to score a low Threads badge number, numerous people already established on IG were keen to carry over their IG username and brand to Threads, lest someone else get in first. Threads also appealed to those disillusioned with the shenanigans of the micro-blogging platform formerly known as Twitter, who further were enticed by Threads’ ease of use, compared to alternatives such as Mastodon.

But once set up and ready to go on Threads, many Threaders were left wondering: what next? On looking more closely at Threads, members found a platform lacking not only in user options, but also a significant proportion of their friends and followers from other social networks. In addition, some users, particularly those with smaller followings, had expressed frustration at the low levels of engagement they were experiencing on Threads.

Many of these new users also had the existing social networks they were part of to consider.

Yet none of these problems are, I think, insurmountable. So long as Meta doesn’t overly Facebook-ernise Threads in the way they have IG, that is. Do we want Facebook and IG like “suggestions”, and other content we didn’t expressly opt-in for, clogging up our timelines and feeds? Not me. I’m not saying Meta shouldn’t be able to generate revenue from Threads through advertising in some form, but surely they can do so in a measured way.

What Meta needs to do is make Threads more useful. They could start by making topics of interest searchable. This was one of the highlights of Twitter/X. Finding out what’s happening elsewhere in my hometown, or why there’s a delay on the train line, was as simple as entering a phrase into the search box. Another urgently needed feature is making hashtags live. Being able to see what others are saying about the same topic was another feature that gave Twitter great value.

A list of trending topics would also be useful. As would desktop/laptop computer access to Threads. The current app-only access means I need to email posts I’ve written for other platforms to my smartphone, just to make the cross-post to Threads. And on the subject of cross-posting, how about the option to post photos and videos from IG — as we can to other Meta properties, such as Facebook — to Threads at the same time.

When it comes to boosting engagement on Threads, perhaps selected posts from users with public profiles, who are not influencers, nor have large following counts, could have more prominence in the “For you” column. At present the “For you” column seems to be the domain of the Threads rock stars, whom maybe I could refer to as the threaderati, were I to riff on that celebrated neologism from the blogosphere, bloggerati.

Threaders with modest profiles though might feel less disinclined to interact with someone closer to their level, rather than respond to an influencer who may not even see their comment. If nothing else, it might garner more interaction at grass roots level. But let’s see what eventuates. Meta have said new features are forthcoming. Now it’s a matter of waiting for them, and seeing what impact they have on the platform.


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Threads engagement declines, badges removed from Instagram

17 July 2023

The curious joined, looked around, and then returned to what they were doing before. Daily active users on Threads, Meta’s answer to Twitter’s micro-blogging platform, declined by twenty percent in the days following the app’s red-hot launch, while time spent by users on Threads fell from twenty minutes per day, to ten.

This is probably par for the course though. It’s not as if Twitter, and other social networks vanished, leaving Threads users more time to spend on the app. While not the most active on social networks, I’m on a few, and as much as I like Threads, there’s only so much time in the day that can (or should) be devoted to activity on social networks.

And although there might have been one-hundred million sign-ups for Threads, the people many of these new members follow may not be among that number, necessitating visits to wherever those followers are. And that might remain the case. For instance, Threads does not have the same news and politics focus as Twitter, meaning the platform won’t be for everyone, meaning some people will be spending their time on multiple social networks, not just one.

In other Threads news, member badge numbers, which I wrote about last week, are no longer visible on the Instagram app profile pages of those who are members of both Meta platforms. The badge, indicating what number member someone was on Threads, has been replaced by the Threads logo, linking to that person’s Threads page, and right now is only visible on the Instagram website.

How unfortunate. I had high hopes for those badge numbers, some of which were surely collectable (and subsequently worth paying good money for). It looks like I won’t be buying that villa in the north of Portugal, to summer at, after all…


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#BookThreads, a name for the book community on Threads?

15 July 2023

Threads banner promotional image, by Meta

Threads banner image, by Meta.

If Threads, Meta’s recently launched micro-blogging app, takes off and becomes as popular as the likes of Twitter and Instagram, a community of book readers and fans is bound to form. As was the case on Instagram, Threads’ Meta owned stablemate, where a thriving and lively book community interacts under the #Bookstagram hashtag.

But where there’s a social network, there’ll be an active community of book lovers. On rival micro-blogging network, Twitter, the bookish use the #BookTwitter hashtag to label their tweets, making them visible and searchable for fellow literary mavens, while on while on TikTok, BookTokers share book content using the #BookTok tag.

Presently hashtags are not functional on Threads, but they, along with a bevy of other features, are on the way. It’s therefore only a matter of time before book readers will be able to connect with bookworms on Threads. That’s good though, it gives the bookish time to devise a community name and hashtag to use on Threads. But that’s hardly going to be difficult.

The hashtags used by the book reading communities on Twitter, Instagram, and BookTok, are simple and to the point, and the same will doubtless apply on Threads. Which makes BookThreads the logical choice. I first saw the term used by Australian book publisher Pan Macmillan Australia on their Instagram page, though someone else may well have used the moniker before.

So #BookThreads it is, at least if you ask me. And just because hashtags still aren’t functional on Threads doesn’t mean you can’t use them. I’ve sporadically been including them on posts, probably through habit, as I imagine others have to, and I’ve used #BookThreads on at least one of my Threads posts. But by adding #BookThreads to your bookish Threads posts now, means you’ll be immediately be visible to the Threads book community, when hashtags become operational.

But what are your thoughts on a hashtag and title for a potential Threads book community? Does BookThreads make sense, or is it a terrible idea? Do you have alternative suggestion? Let me know in the comments below, which will be open for a week or so after this article is posted.


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Threads revenue tipped to reach $8 billion by 2025

15 July 2023

Threads, Meta’s micro-blogging app, may only be a week old, and boast a relatively small membership of one-hundred million, but some analysts are already predicting, boldly perhaps, the Twitter clone may draw in revenues of eight-billion dollar per annum by 2025:

Evercore ISI analysts reportedly said they expect Threads to add $8 billion to Meta’s annual revenue by 2025. Nevertheless, while marketers and brands are already experimenting with the app, they really want to know when ad formats will be available.

This is the eight-billion dollar question. Part of Threads’ present appeal is the relative absence of advertising. I think most people appreciate ads of some sort will need to make an appearance at some point — this playground Meta has made for us has an overhead after all — but the way they are deployed will be critical.

Any misstep could drive users away, and potentially bring an end to Threads. As a comparison, Twitter, with a membership of some 368 million daily active users, made four and a half billion dollars in 2022, chiefly from advertising. Whether we get to see the 2023 numbers remains to be seen.

Via Matt Fleury.


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Have Threads badges made my Instagram account valuable?

11 July 2023

Mark Zuckerberg's Instagram profile displaying his Threads badge

Mark Zuckerberg’s Instagram profile displaying his Threads badge.

The launch last week of Meta’s Twitter-like micro-blogging service Threads has been a riotous success, if the one-hundred million sign-ups in its first five days are any indication. Threads seems to have been the much wanted breath of fresh air micro-bloggers were waiting for. The Meta made app not only offers ease of use, but comes largely unencumbered by the baggage of Twitter, or the confusion some people have experienced with Mastodon, another micro-blogging contender.

Of course it is early days. Threads is not completely without its drawbacks. Privacy advocates have voiced concerns about some of the user data Threads is collecting. And compared to, say, Twitter, many features micro-bloggers are used to — hashtags for example — remain absent, though it sounds like more functionality is on the way.

Introducing the Threads badge

One feature however that may have surprised many Instagram users after signing up for Threads, is the appearance of a number on their Instagram account, situated just below their username. The image above, a screen grab of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Instagram page, is an example of what I mean. From what I can gather, the symbol that looks a little like @1, is called a badge, or a Threads badge, though, in some cases, it could just as easily be called a badge of honour.

In short the badge, which can only be seen on the Instagram app, but not the website, tells the world what number member you are of Threads. It also links to your Threads page, and anyone tapping on the badge will be taken there, if they are a member themselves. It is of little surprise that Zuckerberg, as CEO of Meta, scored the surely much coveted badge number one. But aside from letting everyone know how quickly, or not, that you became a Threads member, might the badge have other value?

As in financial value? I mean, who wouldn’t want to have Threads badge number one adorning their Instagram page? While it is fair to say the chances of acquiring this particular badge number are pretty much non-existent, might other badge numbers become something people would be prepared to pay top dollar for?

Speculating on Threads badges, really?

Speculating on Threads badge numbers however would be fraught with difficulty. For one, Threads needs to take hold as a serious micro-blogging player, for the badges to accrue any value. As I said earlier, there has been a rush to sign up for Threads, but how many people will remain active on the platform long term? If the initial burst of enthusiasm wanes, Meta might decide to close Threads down, rendering the badges worthless.

But that’s not to say there might still be interest in the badges as a commodity. While the ultra-low badge numbers are probably in the hands of those who will not let them go, come what may, there may be people potentially interested in trying to acquire double, or three figure numbers. Or so-called “golden numbers” that may be higher, but are possessed of some subjective value to a would-be buyer, or even a Threads badge number speculator.

666, anyone? Or perhaps a year of birth? Or possibility any relatively low number that makes the owner look like they are an early adopter. But while someone may be interested in buying a particular Threads badge, that doesn’t mean the sale process would be straightforward. Even if the price was right. And the transfer were to evade Meta’s notice. Anyone selling their in demand Threads badge number would have a few things to think about.

Beware the pitfalls…

They would be giving up both their Instagram and Threads accounts, and may lose their possibly cherished username, and followers, in the process. While an arrangement might be reached with the buyer to give up the username, there’s the risk it might be snatched by someone else, if the seller doesn’t move quickly to re-secure it. The seller would also need to get their original followers on board at their new Instagram and Threads pages, something not necessarily straightforward.

Some sort of legally binding written agreement would also need to be in place to ensure each party to the transaction did what was required of them, at the requisite times. Buyer transfers money, seller surrenders account passwords, things like that. Perhaps a brokering service to cater for such a transaction could be engaged to oversee the sale. Maybe there’s a business opportunity for brokers, if the sale of Threads badge numbers becomes commonplace. Oh, the possibilities…

Or is it all a pipe dream?

But the prospect of a marketplace for badge numbers emerging, is likewise, pie in the sky possibility. That’s too bad, some of us might have been millionaires for a minute there, at least in the recesses of imagination. But also read this Mashable article by Sam Haysom. See that image as you start to scroll down. The image bearing the somewhat ominous notification, stating “this temporary badge lets your followers know that you’re on Threads and sends them to your profile if they have the app.”

What? The Threads badges are only temporary? Where’s the fun (and millions) in that? If then you do wish to cash in on your Threads badge number, move quickly. And whatever you do, don’t tell the buyer the badges are temporary…


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