Threads brand strategies—how social media managers at Taco Bell and elsewhere are navigating the platform
The ride-sharing company is utilizing Threads as a way to “break the fourth wall” and offer consumers a glimpse at the person behind the posts, said Bri Reynolds, the brand’s social media manager. Lyft has largely given her free reign to create posts for the new platform, and Reynolds has fully embraced the opportunity to lean into a casual, first-person posting style, she said. That lent itself to the first post poking fun at the potential cage fight between Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter owner Elon Musk.
Rather than strictly adhere to a formal content strategy for the new platform, Lyft has instead focused on interacting with and entertaining consumers, as well as observing how users are speaking amongst each other on Threads, Reynolds said.
“I feel like brands have been having this lightbulb moment over the last year and realizing the way to add personality and authenticity to your brand is to show off the person behind it,” she said. “When you’re acknowledging the social media manager behind the brand, you’re also acknowledging the brand is made up of people—it’s not this anonymous logo floating in the air. And I think Threads is illuminating that even more.”
Just over 12 hours after Meta released the app, 30 million people had already joined Threads. It reached 100 million sign-ups over the weekend, according to a Threads post from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In its first few days, Threads has been characterized as a positive and upbeat place, and social media managers are leaning into it as a way to humanize the brands they work for.
Like Lyft, Olipop has taken an intimate approach to Threads, said Sara Crane and Izzy Yellin, the brand’s content strategist and influencer coordinator, respectively. The duo has essentially treated Threads like a “big group chat,” Yellin said, with the two of them taking turns to share updates throughout their days, wishing their followers “good morning” and “good night,” and emphasizing humor with posts such as, “my boss said if we get 15k followers on here by friday he’ll get me @jonasbrothers tickets SO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE FOLLOW US.”
Olipop has oriented its Threads strategy around humanizing the brand with these first-person posts and by interacting with as many consumers (and other brands) as possible, Crane said.
Also read: How Olipop is disrupting the soda category
In the coming weeks, the two also plan to incorporate new elements that support this intimate approach to the platform, such as “leaking” behind-the-scenes photos from Olipop’s recent commercial shoot with pop singer Camila Cabello, Crane said.
“Threads is quickly becoming a priority for us as everyone’s attention shifts there” she added.
Balancing Threads and Twitter
Though brands have largely refrained from joining other Twitter competitors such as Bluesky and Mastodon, the rapid growth of Threads—and its direct ties to Instagram, a platform that has long played a core role in brands’ social strategies—has made the new app one that social media managers can’t ignore. But despite the plethora of self-referential memes joking about social media managers having another new platform to develop a strategy for, many of them have eagerly embraced Threads as a valuable new medium to engage with consumers and humanize their brands.
“Ever since the leadership changes at Twitter, there have been entrants into the marketplace touting themselves as ‘the next Twitter,” said Nicole Weltman, head of social at Taco Bell, referring to Musk’s acquisition of the platform last October. “We’ve been keeping an eye on this space for quite some time, because Twitter has been very unique in consumers’ lives and the social media landscape. But the launch of Threads really feels different than these other competitors.”
Taco Bell has leveraged Twitter to banter with the community around the brand and round out Taco Bell’s snarky, self-referential brand voice, Weltman said, which has won the brand over 1.9 million Twitter followers. But Twitter’s new limits on the number of posts users can view on the platform—just one of a series of controversial changes Musk has made to the app—has slightly soured her view of the platform, she said.
Taco Bell’s first post on Threads, “here for a good time, not a limited time,” was actually a jab at Twitter’s new limitations in addition to referencing Taco Bell’s frequent limited-edition menu items, Weltman said. Creative agency Deutsch LA helped the brand craft the dual meaning behind the post, she said.
Tombras, which oversees social media for food brands such as MoonPie and Steak-umm, is also envisioning Threads playing a similar, engagement-focused role in brands’ social strategies that Twitter has traditionally filled, said Dooley Tombras, the agency’s president. But “Twitter has changed in the last couple of years” and developed a more “somber mood” and cynical tone, he said, leading brands with a mischievous, comedic brand voice such as MoonPie to struggle on the platform.
The positive, buzzy environment that has characterized the early days of Threads better aligns with the somewhat-chaotic energy that the agency has sought to capture in the social content of brands such as MoonPie, Tombras said. But the agency doesn’t plan to fully abandon Twitter for Threads, he said, especially since Threads still lacks the discoverability and real-time trend monitoring of Twitter, he said. Instead, in the coming weeks, the agency will experiment with different post formats on Threads—from purely text to images and videos—to develop a unique Threads strategy, rather than post the same content across the two platforms, he said.
Papa Johns also plans to use Threads as a “complement” to Twitter, rather than a replacement for it, said Josh Martin, the brand’s director of social media and brand engagement. In the brand’s first few days on the new platform, Martin has prioritized testing which types of posts perform best on the new platform, from a thread of images to question-based text posts, and engaging with Papa Johns’ influencer partners and celebrity brand ambassador Shaquille O’Neal. It's all part of an effort to determine how Threads can best slot into the brand’s existing social strategy, he said.
The brand’s post consisting simply of 500 pizza emojis, for example, was meant to experiment with how different character counts perform on Threads, Martin added; 500 is the maximum character limit on Threads.
Features that have been a mainstay of Twitter and other social platforms, such as search and hashtags, will be added to the platform in the future, according to a Threads post from Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram. As of now, Threads essentially functions as an unstructured stream of consciousness for most users and brands—but several social media managers have leaned into this frenetic, disorganized nature of the new app.
Cereal brand Magic Spoon has used Threads for “leaks.” Sarah Bourlakas, the brand’s senior social and community manager, took to the platform to post about two upcoming cereal flavors the brand is releasing. Bourlakas leaned into the role of a rogue social media manager “accidentally” revealing the new products on the new, chaotic platform, she said.
“On Instagram, we use ‘we,’ but I noticed on a lot of Threads posts people were using this single, first-person voice,” Bourlakas said. “So, I was like, ‘Okay, this can be kind of an interesting angle for us of leaning into this chaotic, singular person running the account, and we can kind of personify that across all our posts no matter who’s writing them.”
Though brands such as Olipop and Magic Spoon have already embraced this type of playful, casual brand voice across other social platforms, more buttoned-up brands such as Instacart have used the newness of Threads as an opportunity to experiment with an informal and cheeky posting style. The grocery delivery brand is approaching Threads with a similar strategy to Twitter, but has also “been dialing up the playfulness on Threads” and “push[ing] the envelope with [its] overall tone,” Rogelio Magana, senior director of brand strategy and campaigns at Instacart, wrote in an email.
In one post, for example, Instacart invites other social media managers to engage in a “light brand feud” to drum up engagement on Threads.
The direct link between Threads and Instagram that enables a brand’s Instagram audience to continue following them on the new platform has eliminated much of the stress of trying to immediately spin up a growth strategy on Threads, the social media managers agreed. Instead, at least for now, they’re opting to emulate the unhinged, ultra-casual approach to the platform that many users have immediately taken.
Amidst this “honeymoon energy” that has pervaded Threads across the platform’s first few days of existence, Ulta Beauty is focusing solely on connecting with consumers through chatting with them as if they were close friends at a party, said Christine White, the brand’s senior director of social media and content. At this stage in Threads’ lifespan, the only metric she’s concerned with is a “return on vibes,” she said.
“Nobody knows exactly when the paid ads are going to become available,” Tombras said. “So it's sort of an 1849 Gold Rush right now for brands to get in and capitalize on all the organic reach on Threads at the moment.”