Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Instagram’s new app, Threads, was briefly an oasis of Meta employees, celebrities, and influencers — but its exclusive access was short-lived as the company sped up the app’s arrival. 

The text-based app and uncanny Twitter lookalike, which has been in the works since January, made a splashy arrival Wednesday. Initially scheduled to go live on July 6, the app hit phones on Wednesday evening, at 7 p.m. ET.

A slew of content creators — from influencers to public figures to journalists — were exclusively invited to onboard the buzzy new app earlier this week.

Lauren Godwin, a content creator with over 22 million TikTok and 790,000 Instagram followers, told Insider she got access to Instagram’s beta on Monday night. She’s excited about the app after testing it for a few days.

“I opened my phone and the first thing that I went to was Threads,” Godwin said. “Now, it feels normal. This is my new era.”

Insider spoke with five sources who were granted early access to Threads, including one who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Overall, the reviews are looking good for Meta, but creators were still hesitant to put all their eggs in the Threads basket.

“Aesthetically, it’s probably one of the prettier apps that I’ve seen,” said Avori Henderson, a gaming creator with 703,000 Facebook followers, who is one of the many early adopters invited to the app by Meta. She added that the video upload quality was “way, way better than Twitter.”

“This could be a Twitter killer type of energy if they play their cards right,” said Lonnie Marts, an Instagram creator with 618,000 followers who is also an early adopter of Threads.

But while Threads is being dubbed a “Twitter killer,” creators won’t entirely abandon the Elon Musk-owned social media platform.

“I still plan to be active on Twitter,” said Roberto Nickson, a creator with 246,000 TikTok followers and 45,000 on Twitter, who got access to the Threads beta on Monday.

“The UI is very familiar,” Nickson added. “They’re not reinventing the wheel by any means. You instantly understand how to use it if you’ve ever used Twitter because it’s pretty much a carbon copy.”

Posts on Threads can be up to 500 characters long. Besides text, they can include videos (up to 5 minutes in length) and photos, as well as links.

Skitch of new Instagram app threads

The new Instagram Threads app was briefly accessible from desktop on Wednesday.

Screengrab/Threads; Insider/Sydney Bradley

At Meta this week, staffers were busy recruiting influencers and celebrities to join the app via early access.

Insider viewed a leaked version of the exclusive onboarding guide Meta sent creators, which included steps on how to download a beta version of the app, and best practices for posting. The four-page guide also included messaging around launch day and sharing posts from the new app to Instagram Stories and Feed.

Influencers like Connor Franta (4.8 million YouTube subscribers) and VaynerMedia cofounder and CEO Gary Vaynerchuk — better known online as Gary Vee — posted to the pre-release version of the Threads app, according to a screenshot of the app’s homepage viewed by Insider.

Meta did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

What # threads user an account is screenshot of Instagram

Avori Henderson, @avoristrib, is Threads user number 308, according to her profile.

Screengrab/Avori Henderson

The shiny new object in social media, however, is still missing some parts, creators told Insider.

“It’s not as full-fledged out,” Nickson said. “There’s no spaces, there’s no lists, there’s no trending topics yet. It’s pretty bare bones.”

There are also no hashtags, Henderson pointed out, and Godwin would like to see an explore page within the app. In response to an early user asking about hashtags on the app, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri responded on Threads with: “Not yet, but it’s on the list.”

Two creators stumbled over what to call a post on the app, and accidentally let the phrase “tweet” slip through. On the app, there is already a debate about what to call posts.

Mosseri even chimed in on the debate with a post on the app. “‘Posted’ most likely, maybe ‘threaded’ but that doesn’t quite feel right,” Mosseri wrote in a post.

And one question that is surely on many creators’ minds is what the potential revenue opportunities will be.

“I would love to see a way for creators to actually make money on it rather than just being a place to talk,” Henderson said.

Notably missing from Threads is the decentralized protocol that bolstered the earliest rumors of the app. In the wake of Twitter’s many blunders, decentralized text-based apps like Mastodon and Bluesky have earned themselves spots in the race to beat Twitter.

“We’re committed to building support for ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon, into this app,” Mosseri said in a Threads post on Tuesday. “We weren’t able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralized network, but it’s coming.”

“I think it’s more of a gimmick than anything else,” Nickson said of Meta’s decentralization play. “But at the same time, it’s really significant that they’re actually backing it.”

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