Advice for adopting Threads and other new social platforms

Aug 11, 2023 in Social Media
Threads logo in Black on a Black background

Social media is now one of the primary ways people receive their news, causing journalists to rely on social media to reach larger audiences and new readers. As a result, journalists must consider early on in the editorial process how to best package their content for social media, as well as which social platforms to use.

This goal is made even more difficult because the landscape of social media platforms is constantly changing. Most recently, the biggest change is the question of what platform – if any – can replace X, formerly known as Twitter. X, which has long been a mainstay for journalists to make connections, follow real-time news and find sources, has changed considerably since it was acquired by Elon Musk in October 2022. Since the acquisition, several features have been put behind a paywall, such as the blue check, which signifies that an account is verified, leading many people to leave the platform.

In response, other companies are developing competitors to X, the most notable being Meta’s recent launch of Threads. Meta, which also owns Facebook and Instagram, connects Threads to users' Instagram accounts, and imports their followers and who they are following from Instagram. At its launch, Threads became “the most rapidly downloaded app ever,” according to the New York Times, being downloaded more than 30 million times in 16 hours.

During a recent session at the Asian American Journalists Association’s July conference, panelists explained how organizations can adapt to new social media platforms such as Threads. Varoon Bose, director of social content at Bleacher Report, Mark Kim, senior social engagement manager at The Athletic, Hayden Kim, manager of social programming at Bleacher Report, and Pranav Iyer, founder of AMAZNHQ, a platform that highlights Asian American athletes, spoke on the usefulness of Threads for journalists, what they should consider if they join the platform and the need to adapt to changing social media landscapes.

Should journalists adopt Threads?

While the panelists agreed that Threads is worth trying out, they also stated that it isn’t yet clear what its place would be in the broader social media landscape. 

“You might as well give a little bit of effort into it. From there, it really is just like being able to experiment with wanting to get in touch with working on the platform, [and understand] what Meta is providing on Threads,” said Mark Kim. “Being able to kind of figure out what that audience looks like and how they respond to certain things and how other creators on the platform are already attacking it” is key.

Many organizations are taking a “wait and see” approach to Threads, said Hayden Kim, by experimenting with Threads while acknowledging that its use may be fleeting. Journalists shouldn’t worry about whether emerging platforms will fail, Hayden Kim said. Instead, they should “meet audiences where they are,” by trying out new platforms while those audiences are on it.

This advice is especially true for smaller outlets, as adopting new platforms early on “is the most right time to create a large audience,” said Iyer. For small organizations, it’s best to come in “as early as you can, and build from the ground up,” he said.

Adapting to changes

Threads is just the latest new media platform, but it will certainly not be the last. “Everything is changing all the time,” Hayden Kim said. “Platforms are changing, algorithms are changing.” Therefore, the main challenge that users face is adapting to these changes. 

To figure out what content performs well, the panelists recommended looking at organic content from “native creators,” or those who are posting on their own instead of on the behalf of a company, as the content they produce can make clear what works best on a given platform. 

Additionally, they suggest gaining inspiration from accounts that are not solely within your industry. Bose recommends “taking things from other people, and then thinking about, ‘Okay, what’s a way I can adapt this for myself?’” This method can help drive innovation and create more interesting content. 

The need to adapt as social platforms grow and change is made harder by the fact that each platform is slightly different. What works on Facebook won’t be the same as what works on TikTok. “The biggest thing that I try to emphasize to everyone is to adapt your brand to the platform,” said Mark Kim.

Mark Kim also emphasized that embracing a platform’s ethos does not predispose creating content that feels authentic to yourself or your outlet. “There's a way to do both of being able to enjoy yourself and [leaning] into the silliness of TikTok, but at the same time, still be able to deliver your content in a way that feels authentic to where you’re posting it from, whether it is from your own personal account… or if you're doing it for a company.” he said.

As social media continues to expand and evolve, it remains an important place for both journalists and news outlets to share their work. As such, journalists need to continually be aware of what “works” as new social platforms change and new ones emerge, regardless of whether specific platforms, such as X or Threads, ultimately succeed or fail.

Photo by Fachrizal Maulana on Unsplash.