Threads sparked a wave of excitement for the industry but the past has shown how brands can begin to plan for the day when they advertise on this platform, says Analytic Partners’ Jo-Ann Foo.

How many of us remember the sensation of coming to school and there was a new kid in class?

There would often be excitement, curiosity and perhaps a little bit of hesitation. The newcomer has the promise of being your new best friend but may end up being someone you avoid in the hallways. In many instances, only time will tell which way the situation will go.

Of course, in this situation, it’s clearly Threads that was the new kid on the (marketing) block, the one that got us all talking.

But after launching in July, the buzz has undoubtedly died down. Despite much fanfare, the past month has seen usership begin to drop considerably. But all hope is not lost for advertisers that have their eyes set on the new platform.

The last great successful social media launch was undoubtedly TikTok, a platform I’m sure none of us predicted would become as culture-shaping as it has. It’s safe to say its shadow has loomed large over the launch of Threads, as the risk of falling behind and missing out on the next big thing is something I suspect has guided some of the predictions about Threads.

Whilst not open to ads just yet, Reuters recently reported that Threads could achieve US$5 billion in annual ad revenue, which would equal what Twitter earned in 2021. And while new users dropped off in the second week, the platform should still certainly celebrate achieving 100 million sign-ups within five days of launch.

So although we’ve begun to see a decline in interest, there is still plenty to consider for brands looking to get ahead of this space. Threads is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Twitter yet and Elon Musk’s recent rebrand of Twitter’s logo to X – a move most seem to be questioning – indicates the company remains in a state of flux over what it stands for.

If you’re keeping your mind open to experimenting on Threads, this is what the data says you should consider.

The crystal ball of the past

History has taught us that being an early adopter on a new platform can yield exceptional returns. When social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook were initially launched, advertising costs were relatively low, providing a brief window for brands to make their mark and reap the rewards of a first-mover mentality.

However, over time, as these platforms matured, the costs have gradually risen. It is also worth considering that the response, or how well something works to drive sales, may not change that much over time. 

source: ROI Genome, Analytic Partners

We’ve seen two, now more established but more recently launched social media platforms, become less efficient over time or at least deliver lower ROIs versus when they first launched. It is also inevitable that these platforms’ prices will slowly but surely creep up and this impacts the overall efficiency and ROI for advertisers.

While this may be frustrating for advertisers – from the business perspective as more advertisers get on board – platforms will inevitably mature and become more valuable. Chances are, they will also remain good performers overall and advertisers will have to manage expectations around any potential downswings in ROI.

Don’t underestimate experimentation

While there is a trend underscoring the importance of seizing opportunities early on and leveraging the potential of emerging platforms like Threads, the only way to avoid sacrificing your long-term goals in favour of short-term success is to test and learn.

Successful advertisers on Threads will be those who take the time to understand the platform, experiment with different strategies and fine-tune their approach based on real-time insights.

Take, for example, the experience with Reels and Stories on Instagram and Facebook. Analytic Partners measured that for social video, 70% of ROI/performance is driven by creative, according to our ROI Genome. Accordingly, many advertisers struggled to achieve the desired results because they merely repurposed existing content across all available formats. Once advertisers were able to adjust and develop content and update the creative to be fit for purpose, ROIs increased significantly.

Consider the future possibilities

Threads also presents an opportunity to access additional formats and inventory within the Meta universe. Down the line, we can expect even more innovations and perhaps, even ways for brands to streamline their media buying process, harnessing insights about their consumers to deliver personalised messages across multiple publishers.

While this can enhance efficiency in terms of time, it may also mean relying too heavily on Meta’s algorithms and damaging your brand’s media ROI. Again, as with any algorithm-driven platform, the true potential lies in testing, learning and fine-tuning strategies to optimise results for individual brands. The focus should always be on ensuring your work will maximise the algorithm in your favour.

Incremental reach is another crucial aspect to consider. We know that one of the primary drivers of ROI is the ability to reach new and unique audiences. If Threads merely offers frequency to users who are already present on other Meta platforms, the impact on returns might be limited.

However, if Threads enables brands to forge new connections and engage consumers in innovative ways, it could provide a valuable differentiator in an increasingly competitive landscape. The newly launched dual timelines feature is an example of this, where users can set their feed to be either “for you” (a mix of followed profiles and recommended accounts) or to “following” (showing only followed accounts in chronological order). This could be one of Threads’ biggest benefits against other social media feeds, which are curated and non-chronological.

Being an early adopter can offer a competitive advantage but success hinges on a commitment to testing and learning. Advertisers must be willing to adapt their creative approach, invest time in understanding the platform and evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies through data-driven analysis.

Do all this and you may become the best friend the new kid on the block needs.