Social media has significantly changed the communication landscape, bringing government leaders closer to the people they serve and building trust between them.
For over a decade, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, in some cases, Linkedin have been mainstays for direct connectivity between community members, government officials, and agencies.
Almost overnight, Threads, the new social network competitor to Twitter launched by Meta and Instagram, has reached a critical mass of users. Launched the week of July 3rd, the social network stands out for its rapid viral adoption and the unique ability to use existing Instagram relationships to build a following quickly.
Here are four things every state and local government leader needs to know about Threads to be a successful early mover:
- Register your username(s) right away. Even if you don’t have a Threads strategy yet, it is worth reserving your username for agencies and individuals (e.g., agency officials, professionals, and elected.). If you have an existing Instagram account, your username is reserved for you, but if you don’t, get on it sooner rather than later.
To do this, either download Threads from your app store OR go to your Instagram account and find Threads in the ‘three lines’ menu on your profile to get started.
LAPD secured its handle but hasn’t yet posted.
- Import all your followers. One of the truly unique features of Threads is that, due to its relationship with Instagram/Meta, it is very easy to automatically follow all the accounts your account follows today on Instagram. During the account creation process, it is advisable to duplicate the same follower list on Instagram to start with a base of accounts. As a result, when any of these accounts join, they will get a notification to follow your account back. This is the fastest way to build a high-quality follower base overnight.
- Write your first Thread. Remember your first Tweet? Whether or not every journey begins with a single step. Post your first Thread to set the tone, so your early followers know you and/or your agency are on Threads and will be sure to tune in.
Pro Tip: Cross-post your first Thread to Instagram to prompt your Instagram followers to join Threads and to show them that you are an early adopter.
Orange County (FL) Sheriff John Mina made his first thread both casual and reminded those who follow his account he wears the badge and gets out of headquarters.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations is an early, active adopter of Threads.
4. Develop a basic Threads strategy. Even though Threads is in its infancy, a few basic guidelines or strategies for using it is worth considering. You get on board now, and to a degree, you’ve boarded the plane being built while many of us are all flying it.
Government communications expert and former Fairfax County and Prince George’s County Police Department Media Relations Director Julie Parker recommends your communications team considers a few critical questions:
- Who will be responsible for managing our Threads account?
- What will be our tone to start? Is Threads just going to be a duplicate of our Twitter feed? Something different?
- If you’re thinking of leaving Twitter, consider carefully. Despite its changes, such as doing away with verified accounts in favor of those who pay for it, it’s a long-established platform perfectly suited for breaking news situations.
- What purpose will it serve? Informative, entertaining, service response, or a mix?
- How do your records retention regulations apply to Threads? What must you consider to comply with your state and local laws?
While Threads is new, it is moving so quickly that it makes sense to take basic steps to prepare for its adoption by your community. We hope these tips are helpful to state and local government officials as they consider how to make Threads part of their social media mix and strategy.
While here, here’s a shameless plug to follow Zencity’s Threads account.