Threads, the Twitter Competitor's Impact on Pharma Marketing: Q&A with Justin Chase

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An insightful discussion about how Meta's newest social media platform, Threads, is quickly adding another facet to the digital landscape for pharma marketers.

On July 5, Meta launched Threads, its latest platform that is a direct competitor to Twitter. In just a matter of days, it has taken the social media landscape by storm and has generated tens of millions of followers. For an industry such as pharma, which relies heavily on real-time communication (#medtwitter, e.g.) and customer engagement, this innovation begs the question: What kind of impact will this have on healthcare and the industry at large?

Fran Pollaro, senior editor at Pharmaceutical Executive®, had the opportunity to engage in a brief but insightful discussion with Justin Chase, executive vice president of EVERSANA INTOUCH Media, who shed light on the rapid proliferation of Threads and its implications for the future of pharma marketing.


Pharm Exec: It's been all over the news. Can you give us a quick preview of Threads—what's it all about?

Justin Chase: In the media and specifically the social media industry, we heard rumblings that Meta was looking to launch a Twitter-like competitor, and that’s exactly what Threads is. The genius part was making it part of Instagram—they call it an Instagram companion app because you are required to use your Instagram login credentials—which has created the most frictionless login experience of any social network.

Justin Chase, EVP, EVERSANA INTOUCH Media

Justin Chase, EVP, EVERSANA INTOUCH Media

Pharm Exec: How is Threads growing so quickly?

Chase: Instead of the platform having to find net new users, they have a built-in user base of some two billion Facebook users, so simple cross-platform promotion is helping them scale rapidly. Plus, they’ve smartly planted, and likely incentivized, a star-studded list of socially active celebrities like Tom Brady, Mr. Beast, Marshmello, The Kardashians, Jamie Oliver, Oprah Winfrey—to name a few. They are casting a wide net related to interest, subject matter, and even socio-economic relatability, which is smart when they are trying to battle the lack of inclusion Twitter users have complained about.

Pharm Exec: From a pharma marketing standpoint, what opportunities does it present?

Chase: It’s critical for pharma marketers to acquaint themselves with the platform. Everyone has Instagram at this point, so there is no excuse for not signing up. Most marketers are Twitter users and have been for many years, so the feature set should feel familiar.

It’s still too early for pharma to have a branded presence on Threads, but if Threads continues to flourish in a productive way, that will surely be the goal in the next 2-3 months.

From a brand management standpoint, publishing content from Instagram to Threads is seamless. You can click the share button on Instagram to automatically share content to Threads, or you can very easily cross-post links. This will help you build reach and connective tissue between the two platforms quickly.

Pharm Exec: Can brands target followers on Threads? And is paid advertising available currently?

Chase: Right now, like most new platform launches, paid advertising is not incorporated. Threads claims they want to get the user experience right, saying the user experience is the same as Twitter’s without the vitriol—that rings a bit hollow. The real reason is growth. They essentially want to get people on the platform and then they want to get them hooked. At that point, they will offer advertising. We have already heard Meta’s ad sales team drooling at the prospect of a new platform to sell on.

We expect paid advertising to be introduced in the next 3-4 months, or when Threads reaches 100 million users, whichever comes first.

That said, you can follow people now and when you click on the name of the folks you follow, you are able to see their Thread laid out in chronological order.

Pharm Exec: Seems like Threads is here to stay—what do you think?

Chase: Without a doubt. Threads has experienced the most explosive growth of any platform, full stop. You don’t go from zero to thirty million followers overnight without some degree of staying power. And when you are backed by the infrastructure and resources of Meta, this isn’t just a flash in the pan. Even Google Glass lasted a decade.

We believe that Threads is not only going to be a major competitor to Twitter, but if they can find some innovative (non-copycat) feature, they will also eventually surpass Twitter in terms of user growth and activity. Remember, even in its prime, Twitter always had problems monetizing their product. With one of the best ad platforms in the world, Meta doesn’t have that issue.

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