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What I Learned From Threads' First Week
Should you consider joining this new social platform?
In case you somehow missed it, there’s a new kid in the Social Media town. The latest iteration of microblogging has officially been released to the public: Threads.
For those not among the 10 million who downloaded in the first 24 hours, Threads is the latest venture from Social-Behemoth Meta (formerly just Facebook). However, it is trying to advertise itself as more closely associated with the younger, hipper Instagram.
An obvious ploy at picking up the audience that Twitter has been bleeding out since its purchase by Elon Musk, Threads is an incredibly simple and straightforward microblog feed that you can access through your existing Instagram account.
Conveniently (or perhaps deviously), Meta has made it possible to bring over your Instagram “Following” list for a mass one-click follow of your friends and favorite influencers.
But the question is this: is this really necessary? Do we really need another app to follow and maintain?
And - more importantly for followers of this Substack - is it relevant to our digital ministries?
One Week Since You Looked At Me
My goal in this blog is to address some of the early notable things I’ve experienced during my first week on Threads.
Of course, this app is still in the beta phase of development, so many of these thoughts may quickly expire. Don’t let this early development phase keep you from learning more about this burgeoning community - many of us were too late on the catch for TikTok due to its unkempt early days.
Meta Steal Has It
Veteran Social Media consumers will remember the day that Snapchat lost the app war. Instagram, the vanilla yet compelling app, announced that it, too, would be adding Stories - a feed that would expire after twenty-four hours, just like Snapchat.
Newer consumers will remember the announcement of Reels - an exact clone of TikTok. However, TikTok’s staying power has not faltered.
Draw the line even further back, and one will recall that Instagram existed before its acquisition by the OG Facebook.
Dare I mention the (Meta) Quest VR device? Or Facebook Gaming?
When mega-corporation Meta discovers a place that it isn’t, it either tries to develop a copycat or, when in doubt, buys it outright.
Threads has been a long-rumored development of the app market. It’s no surprise to see Meta finally tap into the micro-blogging zeitgeist (although who remembers Facebook Notes?)
Threads is a pretty cut-and-dry instance of the things that Meta has become known for now. Unfortunately - this doesn’t actually tell us much about how this will all shake out in the end.
One of the biggest boons in Meta’s pocket is the pure girth of an audience that it brings. This vast market led to the insane success of Stories and the current success of Reels.
However, this audience was insufficient to make game streaming or the metaverse pan out in any impactful way.
If I had to bet, I would say that Meta’s choice to use Instagram proves that Threads will be a long-term experiment in that they have great confidence. Unlike the infamous Facebook Business Page, Meta rarely throws anything onto their true money-maker of Instagram that could flop.
It’s possible that Threads may not survive the pressure, but canning failed projects is more of a Google tactic, not a Meta one. We have - at least - two years of Threads to utilize. If it fails, it will fail slowly.
Virality Is Still King
I hoped the Threads algorithm would feel more like its predecessor Instagram. However, as of this writing, the feed feels very reminiscent of what it is copying on Twitter.
Despite bringing over hundreds of accounts I have curated over a decade on Instagram, most of my feed comes from those I don’t follow.
On the one hand, I’m enjoying finding new accounts to follow. But on the other hand, it makes that follow feel pretty pointless. Why bother following everyone from my Instagram feed if I can’t see their posts?
While this is a bit of a bummer as a consumer, Mark Zuckerberg and the team behind Threads are promising the eventual release of a time-based feed or follower-only feed.
This means that time is of the essence on this new platform.
If you can hit the right time and space, your posts on Threads could catch the algorithmic wave and ride to the top in a drastically less challenging reach than Twitter.
This does seem to allude to the reality that Threads will, for the time being, purely be a virality-based platform. In other words: Threads is currently not ideal for building a community or keeping in touch with your existing community.
So… Should I Join?
As usual, I will encourage the digital minister to ask three critical questions before joining a new platform.
Where do you need to be?
Why do you need to be there?
What will you do there?
Answering these three questions is paramount to avoiding burnout as a digital content creator. For my digital church plant Checkpoint Church, I put more energy into Twitch, Discord, and YouTube than anywhere else.
So, let me answer them here:
Where does Checkpoint Church need to be?
In a space where we will reach nerds, geeks, and gamers for the purpose of building a community on Discord. There are likely to be all three of these on Threads.
Why does Checkpoint Church need to be there?
Since it’s a new app, there are going to be new people that we are capable of reaching with our message that might be interested in joining our community.
What will you do there?
We will give examples of who we are and what happens in our community on Twitch, Discord, and YouTube.
By answering these three questions, I can comfortably put Threads onto a secondary level of importance. I would estimate I will put a small amount of energy into the platform (no more than 1-3 hours a week) for my usual 12-week process. When I revisit and evaluate, I will choose whether to pivot or leave the platform entirely as a community.
World 1-7 Complete
On a personal level, I foresee this platform as a primary level of importance and will likely put more time into it for ventures like Pixel & Pulpit. While it may remain low on the totem for Checkpoint, it could be a very real possibility for Pixel & Pulpit or my personal brand.
I hope you’ll consider asking yourself those vital questions and telling me what you find.
Maybe I’ll see you over there. > My Threads Account
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Welcome to our SIX new subscribers since our last post! We’re glad you’re here.
Given that, here are some updates on our goals: We are at 14/100 comments and 2/10 recommendations and now 240/500 subscribers - I appreciate any help we get with those goals.
To close, here are some engagement questions:
Are you on Threads? Post your profile in the comments.
If applicable, how do you plan to use Threads?
Any questions you have for me or Pixel & Pulpit?