Insight

Threads for Law Firms: Should Your Firm Use This Social Media App?

August 17, 2023

Social media can be a critical aspect of any law firm’s digital marketing strategy. Our insights on Threads for law firms can help you understand this X/Twitter rival app, and decide if and when your legal practice should try it.

The Challenge: X, Better Known as Twitter 

Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last October, the 15-year-old social media platform has faced mass layoffs and questionable moves such as paid verification, reinstatement of banned accounts, reading limits, banning links to other social apps, and a recent overnight rebrand from “Twitter” to “X” (TechCrunch). Some are saying X/Twitter has “jumped the shark”—referencing the all-too-frequent moment when a pop culture phenomenon passes its prime without hope of recovery.  

Though X/Twitter boasted 535 million monetizable monthly active users last month (The Verge), external reports show just 237.8 million monetizable active monthly users (DemandSage), casting doubt on the validity of the company’s self-reported data. With verified reports of plummeting ad revenue due to an advertiser boycott, and decreasing traffic and subscriber numbers beginning early this year, X/Twitter lacks the time, money and people required to turn the platform into the “everything app” Musk envisions, according to Forrester’s research director Mike Proulx (The Guardian). 

In the world of legal marketing, many of our clients are seeking alternatives to X/Twitter for critical business functions such as thought leadership, social listening, recruitment and paid advertising. With the platform changing rapidly, law firms and attorneys anticipate diminishing returns on their investment of time and resources, and greater PR risks related to X/Twitter’s human rights concerns and hate speech complaints (Reuters). 

The Opportunity? Threads, Meta’s Rival App 

Although X/Twitter’s core fans remain loyal despite significant changes over the past year (according to GWI), the platform’s declining popularity among many of its users is making way for alternatives such as BlueSky, Mastadon and Threads. Taking the social media and business news cycles by storm last month, Threads is a new text-based social media app owned by Meta, the company behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.  

What is Threads?

This mobile app is currently available to people who have the Instagram app installed on their mobile devices, making headlines by reaching more than 100 million downloads in just five days. 

Threads allows users to share text-based messages of up to 500 characters, as well as photo and video content. Compared to X/Twitter’s diminished subscriber base of 237.8 million, Meta has been banking on Instagram’s 2.35 billion–strong user base (DemandSage) to generate a market for Threads, since X/Twitter users appear to have the greatest affinity for Instagram compared with all other social platforms (Meltwater).  

Though 87.6% of X/Twitter users also use Instagram, the visually-appealing Instagram app is primarily used to look for funny and entertaining content. X/Twitter, on the other hand, ranks the highest among all social media platforms for keeping up to date with current news and events (Meltwater). Still, there is significant overlap among activities between both platforms, and there is potential for X/Twitter users and Instagram users alike to follow and research brands or products as a motivating factor for using Threads. 

This Venn diagram of social media users by platform shows that 87.6% of all Twitter users are also on Instagram, while 52.8% of Instagram users are also on Twitter. A bar graph of social media activities by platform shows that 35% of active X/Twitter users age 16-64 say they use X/Twitter to look for funny or entertaining content, compared to 62.9% of Instagram users. 36.3% of X/Twitter users report using the platform to follow or researching brands or products, compared to 62.2% of Instagram users. 61.2% of X/Twitter users report using the platform to keep up to date with current news and events, compared to 51.2% of Instagram users. For law firms, it's still uncertain whether  Instagram users will choose the Threads app for the activities most sought out by X/Twitter users.

Data source: GWI, via Meltwater

Does Threads Have Potential for Law Firms?  

With the launch of Threads, many attorneys and law firms are wondering if the new app is a viable alternative to X/Twitter. At fSquared Marketing, we know our clients’ time is precious, and the pragmatic choice for most firms is to study the lessons of early adopters, before joining the early majority in digital marketing innovations. For others, joining the late majority is a conservative choice that helps law firms meet their business goals. 

This adoption curve graph illustrates the "chasm" between the early market and the mainstream market of any tech innovation. The early market is comprised of innovators (tech enthusiasts) at 2.5% of the total eventual user market, as well as early adopters (visionaries) at 13.5%. The mainstream market includes the early majority (pragmatists) at 34%, the late majority (conservatives)—also at 34%—and finally the laggards (skeptics) at 16%. Since Threads has yet to jump the chasm to engage the early majority of the mainstream market, it may not yet be a pragmatic bet for law firms.

Adoption curve by Omniplex Learning

While X/Twitter’s 15-year history means users and paid advertisers can readily access demographic information about subscribers, we recommend comparing the company’s own information with data verified by reputable third parties when planning changes to any social media strategy. Although Threads plans to gather information on 25 user data points — including location, age, gender and other key demographics (DemandSage) — the app is still too new and untested to provide reliable data for social media strategies. In the coming quarter, we’ll be watching X/Twitter and Threads trends to analyze the suitability of both platforms for law firm marketing, along with their competitors. 

While Threads showed early promise, peaking at 44 million daily active users since its July 5 launch, the daily active user count has dropped 82% with just 8 million active users accessing the app each day as of July 31 (CNN). The dramatic drop-off is likely due to the app’s limitations in its initial version, which we’ve flagged as critical needs for our legal clients. 

Threads updates planned by Meta (Reuters
  • Desktop version of the app: In 2022, 25.47% of U.S. X/Twitter users relied on the desktop app (DemandSage). Threads may need to follow suit to compete. 
  • Search functionality, to find relevant posts and accounts 
Threads updates we’re waiting for 
  • Hashtags, allowing law firms, attorneys and their audiences to follow legal industry topics 
  • Paid advertising opportunities 
  • Chronologically viewable user timelines and feeds 
  • A personalized feed of only accounts and user follows  
  • Direct messaging, to support client, media and recruitment inquiries 
  • Successful launch in Europe, to ensure law firms don’t miss out on target audiences 
  • A steadily growing user base, without a huge drop-off 

Over the coming months, we’ll be watching to see how Meta responds to the current and future innovators and early adopters using Threads. With successful apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in Meta’s repertoire, we’re hopeful that Threads will make a comeback and live up to its potential, while making the most of Instagram’s massive subscriber base. 

Social Media for Law Firms: Does Your Firm Need a Twitter/eXit Strategy?  

Let our team know if you’re getting ready to update your social media strategy. We can help you make the right choices for your firm.

Jenny van Enckevort
Jenny
van Enckevort

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