Before we get into this special bonus episode, I want to tell you about my new live training, How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy + Calendar for Your Nonprofit. In this one-hour deep dive, I’ll show you how to create and execute an effective content marketing strategy for your nonprofit, complete with marketing calendar. To join me, go to nonprofitcontentcalendar.com and sign up. All registrants get the recording, slides, and bonus materials.
The internet is buzzing about Meta’s newest platform, Threads by Instagram. If you’ve never heard of this new app, or if you are simply wondering “What’s the point?”, then you are in the right place.
In Part 1 of my new three-part series all about the newest social network Threads, I’ll be giving a brief explanation of the emergence of the new social media platform, an overview of its key features and functionality, and some of the benefits – and drawbacks – for nonprofits and for individuals alike.
Let’s get started!
What’s all the fuss about? “Threads, an Instagram app” launched on the App Store and Google Play Store just a few days ago and already boasts over 100 million users.
What we know about the Threads app:
It’s insanely easy to register and get set up in minutes. Just go to the app store or play store and download it for free. You do need an Instagram account to sign up, and your Threads username will be the same as the one you use for Instagram. You can also import your bio or write a new one.
Like Instagram, accounts can be public or private.
There are buttons to like, repost, reply to or quote a thread. The number of likes and replies on each post is displayed below its content.
You can post a Thread that is 500 characters long including images and videos. The app also allows users to share up to 10 photos in a single post – the same limit that exists on Instagram – as opposed to Twitter’s limit of four images. Videos can be up to 5 minutes long.
The interface is shockingly similar to Twitter – I got very nostalgic by the look and the feel of the feed. Right now, because there are no ads and no hashtags, it doesn’t seem spammy, but it feels friendly and accessible to all.
However, unlike Twitter, Threads does not seem to use hashtags and does not have a feature that allows users to search for specific text or phrases. I’m willing to bet they will announce new features like these in the future, based on user demand.
OK, but how is this different from Mastodon, Hive Social, Blue Sky or any of the other networks that were set to replace Twitter? What are some of the benefits of Threads?
Also, how is it different from Twitter? Elon Musk’s tweet when Threads launched says it all: It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram. Ha.
Personally, for me, Threads has the advantage of ease of use. I couldn’t figure out Mastodon, and getting on Blue Sky was like getting to a school dance with no one there, and frantically calling my friends to come.
From a community-building perspective, it’s also about scale and audience.
When I signed up for Threads and connected my Instagram account, I had 500 followers in 3 minutes! It’s not like other social networks where you have to start from zero and build a following from scratch. I like how you can quickly share posts from Threads to your Instagram story or feed to get even more exposure and visibility. At least here, you have a little bit of a leg up – which is encouraging, and makes you want to participate more.
When I say scale, we have to be honest about the reach that Meta has. More than 3 billion users across its stable of apps (which include Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp).
What are some of the drawbacks?
The features are limited right now, as I said, no hashtags yet and search is limited.
But even more concerning is that the Threads app collects a range of user data across 25 different categories.
Data privacy watchdogs raised a number of concerns about the new app, as the tech giant seeks to pull even more users into its universe. Threads is able to collect a wide range of personal information, including health, financial, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases and “sensitive info”, according to its data privacy disclosure on the App Store.
The app not available in the EU as Meta is currently grappling with the intricacies of data sharing between the two applications, prompting the delay in making Threads available within the European Union, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Perhaps most important for nonprofits, and for those of us longing for the olden days of Twitter, is that the creators of Threads have said publicly that politics, hard news, and controversial topics are not welcome on the app.
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram and the man who ran Facebook’s News Feed in 2016, posted on Threads that quote “The goal isn’t to replace Twitter. The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter. Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads – they have on Instagram as well to some extent – but we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals.”
This is nothing new, and shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Meta has distanced itself from news and politics, including reducing the amount of political content that users see on Facebook.
It seems that Meta is more concerned with reaching influencers and creators than they are discussing hard news or promoting social causes. Maybe for good reason – The creator economy could approach half-a-trillion dollars by 2027 according to research done by Goldman Sachs.
In an interview with The Verge, Mosseri said, Quote “There are more than enough amazing communities — sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment, etc. — to make a vibrant platform without needing to get into politics or hard news.”
Brass tacks – Should we use it? It completely depends. If your nonprofit has a vibrant Instagram presence and an audience there, then you should definitely consider joining Threads and experimenting with the platform.
If you do not have Instagram, and you have no interest in joining it, then Threads is not the place for you, at least right now.
Bigger picture questions include:
Should we be worried about Meta’s growing power?
Do I really want to share more of my data with one of the largest tech companies in the world?
And is this Mark Zuckerberg – Elon Musk cage match happening? If so, please count me out of all social media.
Should you leave Twitter? I’m not sure of that either. If you have the capacity and bandwidth to effectively manage several social media platforms, then go for it! But if you are a smaller organization with fewer staff and resources, don’t worry about joining the latest trend.
Part 2 of this special series will focus on getting started, setting up your nonprofit’s account on Threads, building a community on threads, and more. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast to get notified when the next episode drops.
Listen here on any device, or download the episode where you like to get your podcasts.
About Julia Campbell, the host of the Nonprofit Nation podcast:
Named as a top thought leader by Forbes and BizTech Magazine, Julia Campbell (she/hers) is an author, coach, and speaker on a mission to make the digital world a better place.
She wrote her book, Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, as a roadmap for social change agents who want to build movements using engaging digital storytelling techniques. Her second book, How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for Your Nonprofit, was published in 2020 as a call-to-arms for mission-driven organizations to use the power of social media to build movements.
Julia’s online courses, webinars, and keynote talks have helped hundreds of nonprofits make the shift to digital thinking and how to do effective marketing in the digital age.
Take Julia’s free nonprofit masterclass, 3 Must-Have Elements of Social Media That Converts
Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliacampbell/