At the end of June, Zuckerberg launched Meta’s answer to Twitter. Within a week of arriving in app stores, Threads notched up over 100 million users, suggesting Zuck Vs Musk won’t be settled in the cage (or a literal dick-swinging competition) but in the arena of entrepreneurship.
So what exactly is Threads? How do you join? And is it a worthwhile platform for UK dentists?
Is This #theEnd for Twitter?
Things are looking down for Twitter. The platform’s value has plummeted since Elon Musk bought the platform in early 2023, promising to turn it into a beacon of free speech.
Musk’s didactic leadership angered and disengaged users. His lifting of the ban on many notorious users was the first decision of many to vex Twitter’s liberal user base.
A botched attempt to monetise the platform’s blue-check verification was met with more indignation.
Then, Musk’s decision to throttle the number of posts users could see before hitting a paywall prompted talk of the #twitterimplosion and the first signs of the end of the platform that’s been a mainstay of the social media landscape since 2006.
At the beginning of July 2023, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg struck a further blow that could prove to be the last nail in Twitter’s
140 280-character coffin with the announcement of the launch of Threads.
Available through app stores for all users with Instagram accounts, Threads promised to deliver an experience “where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow.”
A week later, the Twitter rival already has over 100 million users and counting. Naturally, we had to find out what it’s all about, whether the hype is justified and—crucially—what the platform could hold in store for dental practices.
Getting Started With Threads
There is—as yet—no desktop version of Threads. If you want to join, you’ll need to head to your app store of choice and download it from there.
You’ll also need an Instagram account to get started. When you’re ready to go, just download the app like you would any other, first ensuring you are logged into the right Instagram account on your mobile app.
After installation, you’ll be greeted with a list of Instagram followers who are already using Threads and given the option to follow. When setting up The Fresh account, we were met with a small, ready-made community of followers.
Such close integration between the two apps is Meta’s clever strategy to avoid rolling tumbleweeds and get a buzz going across the platform. It provides great continuity, making it really easy for you to hit the ground running following accounts you’ll already be familiar with on its sister platform.
The User Experience
If you’re already familiar with Twitter, you’ll find it quick and easy to find your feet on Threads, which looks to be about as close as it’s possible to get to a 1:1 clone without infringing on IP.
However, you’ll spot a few crucial differences in user experiences right from the get-go.
Threads almost doubles Twitter’s 280-character limit to a generous 500.
Both platforms allow video and image posts. Here, Threads ups the ante with up to ten images per post, compared to Twitter’s four—although you’ll have to save media to your camera roll or gallery first.
You can also tag other users and followers to alert them to your posts using the @symbol, just like you can on Twitter.
Currently, there’s no way to edit posts after hitting publish, and Twitter’s defining feature, the hashtag, is also missing, although Instagram’s Adam Mosseri says the Threads team is working on bringing these features to the platform soon.
Seasoned Twitterati will also spot a big difference in who appears in their Threads feed. Currently, Threads’ algorithm drops the long-established social media standard of showing a chronological feed of followers’ content to displaying content it thinks you’ll enjoy—and that means posts from all users.
It seems like an odd decision, but it did help The Fresh’s social team discover the utterly bonkers Aldi UK account and will encourage users to explore content, make connections, and drive engagement in the platform’s early days. Mosseri says developers are working to deliver this feature.
Threads, ActivityPub, and the Fediverse
Connected with All Social Platforms
Shortly after the Threads launch announcement, Meta said it would make Threads part of the ‘Fediverse’—an ecosphere of social media platforms with decentralised AcitivityPub compatibility.
This is huge news—but you’d be forgiven if none of these terms sounds familiar.
ActivityPub is an emerging protocol that will give social media platforms unprecedented inter-connection.
ActivityPub is already providing the power that allows Mastodon (another new Twitter rival) to view PeerTube (emerging YouTube rival) posts in their feed and will one day allow Threads users to see Mastodon posts and vice versa.
The protocol is already providing the power that allows Mastodon (another new Twitter rival) to view PeerTube (a YouTube rival) posts in their feed. The protocol will one day allow Threads users to interact with and transfer audiences between the growing number of other ActivityPub platforms at will.
“Our plan is to work with ActivityPub to provide you the option to stop using Threads and transfer your content to another service,” Meta said.
“Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa.”
Until hashtags and searchable topics arrive, marketing services and interacting with new patients on Threads will be tricky because clinics can’t use location or treatment-specific hashtags.
For now, conversations on the platform appear to be centred on networking via existing connections or with any new and unfamiliar users appearing in the feed.
It’s too early to say whether patients are already using the platform to seek out dental content.
But with +100 million users and counting just a week after launch (already more than a third of Twitter’s 18-year-old user base in size) and AcivityPub connectivity on its way, it’s a safe bet that both clinics and patients will look to Threads as a way of connecting once the dust settles.
Our Favourite Users
We were pleasantly surprised to spot many familiar faces on Threads. Here are our suggestions for dental accounts to watch.
Shameless plug: The Fresh founder Prav Solanki’s Thread account comes with a Parental Advisory sticker. Expect posts about day-to-day life, practice marketing and growth, and—of course—fasting.
If anyone knows how to do social properly, it’s Chelsea Dental’s Dr Rhona Eskander. So far, Rhona’s Threads on dentistry, entrepreneurship and the day-to-day grind have earned +5k followers and counting.
With the inimitable Dr Kunal Patel behind it, expect plenty of humour, exceptional before and afters, and a masterclass in social marketing from Surrey’s favourite Love Teeth.
Twitter was always the favoured platform for politicking, so it’ll be interesting to follow discussions on the UK dental landscape from the leading news site in the space.
To Thread or Not to Thread?
In 2004, users migrated en masse from MySpace to the then-unknown Facebook without any inkling of how profoundly the platform would change the world over the next two decades.
Only time will tell whether this is another 2004 moment, and it’s hard to say how Threads will pan out as a marketing tool for dentists.
However, the early signs look good. Many friends from The Fresh’s social circle are already generating good levels of engagement. The style of posts is markedly different to Instagram, revealing hints of authenticity and realness often missing from the image-based and filter-heavy Instagram.
At this point, joining up is pretty much a no-brainer if you have the time to squeeze a new and untested platform into your social strategy.
It’s free to try. And—let’s be honest—is anyone really still having fun on Twitter?