PR agency thoughts— Do we need Instagram Threads?

Last week Facebook took the bold decision to launch a new messaging app as a new arm of Instagram. The new platform is built on a ‘camera-first’ principle, but even so this PR agency has to ask, do we need another account to check?

The rise of messaging apps

Based purely on statistics there has never been a better time to jump on the messaging bandwagon. Or in Facebook’s case, add yet another option to its arsenal of messaging apps. People are flocking to these platforms in their millions because of concerns over privacy and security on standard, publicly-visible social networks.

Brands have unsurprisingly responded enthusiastically. Take a look at our blog post on how brands are using messaging apps effectively if you don’t believe how much activity is now taking place via so-called ‘dark social’. And if you don’t really know what that term means let’s just say it’s anything that happens on a network that can’t be openly seen.

If that’s still unclear check out this PR agency’s guide to influencer marketing from earlier this year, which has plenty on this subject.

Socially speaking messaging is where the action is at. As such it makes sense that, just as with video platforms a few years ago, we are now seeing new concepts being rolled out to mop up some of that demand.

What this PR agency can tell you about how Threads works

In 2018 Instagram introduced Close Friends. You can add people you follow to this grouping and then opt to only share a post with that group. Threads is a logical next step—it imports your Close Friends list from Instagram and allows you to message these people directly, even going so far as to set up a separate inbox just for messages from those accounts.

Threads also offers seamless sharing of photos and videos to your Close Friends. It takes two taps to take a photo and send to your chosen recipients, which is lightning fast by any stretch.

There’s also now the option to share a status, which can be one Instagram has come up with, a unique version created by you, or Auto Status. The latter sees the app come up with a status based on what it understands of your whereabouts and activities at that time, and you don’t have to work at this expert PR agency to hear alarm bells ringing about that.

Possible drawbacks

If you’ve actually been reading this article rather than staring vacantly at the screen as a result of tech brain-melt, the drawbacks of Threads will already be apparent. Or at least the main drawback should be.

In a time-starved world where people are increasingly encouraged to switch off from their devices, we’re not 100% sure a standalone app just for messaging your besties is entirely necessary. Especially when those messages will also appear in your Instagram DMs anyway.

Presumably it wasn’t possible to release an update of Instagram that included the functions Threads offers. Or at least that’s what everyone at this PR agency assumes. But the app does feel a little lacking, with none of its functions essential. Auto Status is also primed to invoke safety concerns.

Even if we are being promised that coordinates are never shared and safety is at the centre of its design, you’re still talking about a public worn out by social networks failing to protect them. The result being a backlash that means any request for sensitive information is greeted with scepticism, if not outright rejection.

Our verdict

The jury is out on how much impact Threads will have, but it’s certainly a timely release.

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