Two weeks ago, Meta’s new social network Threads was finally rolled out to users in the EU, almost six months after launching in the US. Within an hour of the midday launch the European Commission posted a “Hello Europe” in all 23 European languages. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Belgium Prime Minister Alexander de Croo became the first EU leaders to post on Threads.
By the end of the day 16 accounts had set up shop on Threads. Two weeks since the introduction of Threads 33 EU leaders, governments and foreign ministries now have a presence on Threads but only half of them are active and have posted their first Thread. The uptake has been somewhat sluggish.
Among the 127 leaders who signed up in summer 2023 only 37 are somewhat active, the vast majority have either been dormant for weeks or haven’t posted anything yet. Some of the biggest world leaders on Instagram such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, and Ukraine’s Zelensky are still standing on the side lines. While the Princely Palace in Monaco and the Dutch Royal Household have activated their accounts, the British Royal Family isn’t present yet although fan accounts for the royals are proliferating on the platform.
Although many social media managers are unhappy with the changes on X, they are not ready to jump ship just yet. There are several reasons for the sluggish uptake of Threads:
🔵 Despite some users having large follower numbers – automatically imported from Instagram – the number of followers on Threads is only a fraction of their followers on Instagram.
🔵 Despite inspiring first threads, governments tend to share the same content on X and Threads. Some have even started posting screenshots of their posts on X.
🔵 Many social media teams are also waiting for Threads to become available on social media publishing tools such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social so that they can easily schedule their posts on the platform.
🔵 Most governments simply don’t have dedicated community managers to service a new social network, even if it only means cutting and pasting posts from X to Threads.
🔵 Most importantly, the engagement on Threads is far behind that on other platforms.
In a way Threads feels very much like Twitter in the early days, where users are trying to find and engage with new audiences. On the other hand, it also feels like Google+ where users had large artificial audiences but without any meaningful engagement.
Threads is unlikely to replace X for digital diplomacy anytime soon and it is more likely that both platforms will co-exist side by side.