2023 has been the year of social media invention brought about by the continued madness of “X”, the artist formerly known as Twitter. Earlier this year, ByteDance, creators of TikTok, launched its new Pinterest/Instagram crossover app, Lemon8. Now, a few months later, Meta has entered the fold with its short-form message board platform, Threads.
With any new platform launch comes uncertainty, experimentation and embarrassment. Naturally, everyone has been quick to secure usernames and leave their mark on the platform while Threads finds its footing on what itch it will scratch for users and brands. Financial services brands too have made the voyage, but how exactly are they getting on? Let’s find out.
First thing’s first, we feel some context is needed to fully appreciate what Threads is and why it has launched.
In late 2022, Elon Musk acquired Twitter after some rather entertaining back-and-forth between shareholders. Since claiming top spot, a number of events have occurred; an executive staff cull, thousands of redundancies, and a myriad of changes to the website itself have placed Twitter under a cloud of scrutiny among its users.
First came the removal of verification marks, with “Twitter Blue” stepping in their place in the form of a monthly subscription model to unlock varying (once free) features in the app. Then came the mass unbanning of Twitter accounts that were previously penalised for guideline infringements, and now we see Twitter incorporating rate limitations within its API. Overall, Twitter is now a vastly different website to which it once was, which has left its users keen to migrate to something more akin to the past.
Mastodon was thought to be everything we were looking for, but it failed to hit the masses thanks to a completely decentralised approach to “ownership”. So, Meta has taken it upon itself to fill this void with Threads; a stripped back, public message board where users and brands can share their announcements, thoughts, pictures – anything with the world.
What is Threads?
Threads is Meta (more specifically, Instagram)’s new social media platform that’s based on the same premise as mid 2010s Twitter: sharing thoughts, stories, media with the world in small snippets, with a slight swing towards something that Meta is calling “positive interactions”.
“The tone is intentionally anti-venomous compared to Twitter, with the key challenge not scaling users, but scaling “kindness”. It’s this that’ll continue to make it a more brand safe destination for consumer engagement”
– Lauren Dutson, Senior Social Media Specialist at Balance
In its current state, Threads is rather basic; there’s no hashtags, direct messaging, or desktop interface. But, this isn’t to say that such functionality won’t be enabled at a later date.
How Financial Services Brands Are Using Threads
As with any new platform launch, there’s no general rulings or “best practice” guidance available at the moment. Users and brands are free to post whatever they wish to try and gain visibility. However, we are given a very slight indication as to what Meta envisions Threads as being: an open platform that focuses on enabling “positive, productive communications”.
So, how are financial services brands achieving such communications?
Monzo has taken the “positive” aspect of Threads’ ethos and completely run with it. There’s one theme that rings true among all of Monzo’s posts, with that theme being humor.
As the saying goes, humor is a universal language, making it a great way to garner large intrigue from all sorts of followers.
The brand’s very first post (thread?) is a perfect example of this. A lighthearted joke making reference to Monzo’s account creation process:
Between these threads, you can find Monzo rapidly replying to questions and soaking up all the praise it has received from its followers, lacing even more humor throughout.
As another challenger bank, it’s hard to not compare Monzo and Starling Bank in how they market themselves.
Looking through Starling’s first few threads, we first of all see a slightly lower number of them being posted, while the ones that are here feel more like a slightly more mature version of Monzo.
This thread for example sheds some light on how Starling expects its Threads strategy to unfold: the frequent posting of banking tips and advice direct from a bank itself, with some customer service thrown in for good measure.
Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds too have joined the Threads hype at a similar pace to Starling, except in a much more brand-conscious manner with the occasional injections of sarcasm every now and then.
The brand’s very first posts for example were all centered around puns, before settling very quickly into giving a statement on what followers can expect from the brand.
Using Threads in Financial Services: Some Considerations
Having made these observations, what can other financial services brands do to ride the wave?
Keep it Light
In an industry that is so regulated, strict and unyielding, it’s clear that a lighthearted touch to Threads is the preferred mode of communication for brands and users. Sprinklings of comedy interlaced with topical meme culture references are sure to spark attention, fully embracing Meta’s view of Threads as being a place for positive interactions.
Speaking of interactions, it’s your job to encourage them.
Asking open-ended questions to your audience, from what type of content they would like to see to what they think their bank account would say if they could talk are the number one way to encourage back-and-forth communication.
Reply, Reply, Reply
But, it’s not enough to just ask for one reply, it’s equally as important to follow up on those replies. All of this goes a long way in improving engagement metrics and making your Threads more visible on other people’s feeds.
Review Influencer Collaborations
As part of the Threads sign up process, users have the option to re-follow all of their previously followed accounts on Instagram. Of course, the bots are yet to react to this new platform, leaving some influencers exposed to some embarrassing evidence of botted follower counts.
This suggests that some brands may need to review exactly who they’re working with, conducting detailed audits on follower counts, post engagements, and any contracts that are in place.
A Word On Engagement
When it launched, Threads quickly became the fastest growing social media platform and smashed the “time to reach a million users” record, achieving the goal in just two and a half months.
However, Threads is no longer the new kid on the block. With recent reports showing a major 70% drop in engagement, it appears as though Threads has become a victim of its own success. It remains to be seen whether this is down to dissatisfaction with the platform itself, or if users are simply jumping back to the platforms they know best
Need Help With Your Social Media?
Cracking social media can be tricky in financial services. From writing the right posts to identifying your target audience, it all adds up.
Thankfully, there’s help available. By partnering with an experienced agency, you can start devising captivating social media content that builds follower counts and cements your brand in a trustworthy position.
Get your social media marketing on track today with Balance.