Can We Talk About Conservation Without Politics?

If not, you might want to sit out Threads for now

In the week since the launch of Threads, Meta's new Twitter competitor, I've done a few things:

🧵 Scroll Threads without posting
🧵 Dip my toe into replying to threads
🧵 Post my own threads
🧵 Read news and analysis about the future of Threads and how people are using it
🧵 Rethink much of my opening argument about Threads

Last week, I wrote that busy comms teams might consider joining the channel for a few reasons. First, because a growing cohort of politicians and journalists were signing up, and it could become an essential place to have your organization's content seen by these influential audiences.

Second, I figured it'd be pretty low-risk to repurpose Twitter content to Threads, as long as it is likely to provoke public conversation, Meta's stated goal for the new app.

Well, there's a fly in the ointment. NPR reports that, in its quest to create a "friendlier" social network, Meta may actually suppress the performance of news and political discussion in the Threads algorithm.

"More than 100 million people have rushed to join Threads, making it the most swiftly adopted app in history. But if Meta executives have their way, Threads will not be where people turn to debate policy issues, or catch up on local political developments and learn about breaking news that could affect their lives. Instead, Threads is being offered as a text-version of Instagram, where celebrities, influencers and corporate brands dominate."

This comes down to ROIinteraction with Hollywood stars, self-identified celebrities, and vacation photos does more to keep people on social platforms, boosting ad revenue potential, than news and politics. Plus, political posts (particularly misinformation) earned Meta unwanted scrutiny during the 2016 election.

Perhaps this is why Instagram head Adam Mosseri writes, "Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads - they have on Instagram as well to some extent - but we're not going to do anything to encourage those verticals."

When he previously called Threads "a public square" and invoked "community" and "discourse," I guess I (mistakenly) assumed that political conversation and debate of current events would be, like, the whole point. 

Threads doesn't support advertising yet, but you know they'll want to make money off this thing in the end. The inevitable addition of ads is something I argued could be good for conservation brands who already have digital ads running on Facebook and Instayou'll be able to manage this new channel in the same spot.

The question is if conservation orgs should be on Threads at all if political and news-driven content is going to be less visible.

It depends on your strategy. If you're already posting 90% elk photos and just 10% advocacy messaging on other platforms, you might get a brand lift from being clever on Threads. If you're reliant on driving traffic to petitions and action alerts or messaging exclusively about policy, I'd sit back and watch Threads evolve for now.

Because the truth is that Threads doesn't know what it is yet. All of it may change, and the market will decide.

I do think it's telling that Ducks Unlimited asked their followers what they wanted to see on Threads, and there was NOT an overwhelming call for open dialogue about habitat threats or policy solutions. People want DU to share duck hunting tips (each of which I'm certain WOULD be debated) and highlight what their chapters are doing.

No one seems too fussed about seeing one-dimensional content vs something that invites feedback. In fact, here's what I'm observing on the platform so far:

👀 10% brands engaging with trending content to be seen.
👯‍♀️ 10% brands doing things they see other brands doing.
💬 10% brands generating meaningful conversation in their niche.
🔗 10% brands promoting links to content just as they would on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
😎 30% entertaining garbage.
😝 30% worthless garbage.

The algorithm clearly doesn't know what I'm interested in yet, but I'll stick with itfor research.

What are you seeing in your feed? Are you silently protesting this new channel? Tell me everything. And I promise to talk about something else next week.

See you then,

P.S. Welcome to some new readers! If you’re just joining us, check out this post about the goal of Conservation Makers, this list of 10 free resources for comms and marketing pros, and this Q&A with a copyediting legend in the outdoor space.