By Sean Dowdall
Threads Needs to Grow Up Fast – A Roadmap
Threads has achieved an astonishingly successful launch by reaching 100+ million users in just five days. The platform is a newborn baby that doesn’t have the luxury of taking months or years to develop. It needs to run fast to keep its vast community engaged and growing. It is time for Threads to deliver what it could do better than any other social media platform, namely, provide instant access to new, relevant and valuable information without much clutter. Here’s a roadmap for achieving that:
Do this First: Trends and Hashtags
People want to be able to access content that they find useful and interesting quickly. Many want to know what is happening in the world around them right now and what is changing – right now. The differentiator for a platform such as Threads is being current, not offering an algorithm-driven scrapbook of our lives or a catalogue of tips – Instagram already does that, and does it well. Threads should lighten up the algorithms and replace them with prioritizing posts from those users follow.
To help users find current, relevant content, Threads needs to add hashtags and trending topics ASAP. Twitter long ago proved the efficacy of these tools. The longer Threads waits to add them – or some equivalent – the more quickly new users will become disenchanted with the platform as an alternative to Twitter.
Focus on Breaking News
Breaking news is what Twitter has delivered best and does it in reverse chronological order. It remains the go-to social channel for media outlets, politicians, celebrities and the rest of us to share and find breaking news. Twitter also is the social channel for emergency updates, keeping the public informed, engaged and safe. When something unusual happens in your community, such as a search helicopter flying above, Twitter is the first place to look to find out what is going on. Threads needs to deliver that immediacy to compete.
Open and Equitable Access
Threads also has an opportunity to become the most open social media platform for all people. The way to attract the most users, and thereby increase the value of Threads, is to keep it simple to use and accessible anytime, anywhere on any device, including desktops. It was a smart start for Meta to tie the Threads launch to its huge base of 2.35 billion Instagram users. But a simple signup for non-Instagram users will significantly broaden the user base. Nearly five billion people use various social media platforms. Although there likely will be restrictions on Threads in some markets, it could become the Earth’s information channel.
Moderate Bad Content and Bounce the Bots
To become the go-to source for information that matters most to its users, Threads must engender some level of trust based on verified and moderated content sources – an area where Twitter’s recent changes leave an opportunity open for Meta. If Threads can deliver that level of assurance, it will be a differentiated social media platform that people will pay attention to and engage with like no other. To do that, Threads should filter out the garbage and deploy transparent rules of use, clearly telling users how it is doing so. These rules should include no hate speech allowed, shutting down sources identified as bots and flagging or deleting misinformation.
I am excited about Threads’ prospects. Please grow up fast! And, let us know the new Threads verb: is it thread, knit, knot, sew, ravel, tat, mend, darn… other ideas?