For years, the social media giant Twitter existed as the nation’s virtual water cooler. In 280 characters or less, users could tweet out their opinions, search hashtags of interest and interact with industry peers and thought leaders. With billionaire Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company last fall, however, Twitter took on a new look and feel, and a new name: X.
From the get-go, Musk’s leadership and the changes he made were controversial. He fired most of the staff, implemented a fee structure and used the site to amplify his own strong political and social opinions. Many individuals and companies began looking for an alternative.
Likely sensing an opportunity, Meta’s founder Mark Zuckerberg recently launched “Threads,” the most Twitter-like option to date. Due to Meta’s enormous reach on Instagram, Threads allows users to pull over all of their followers from that sister site. Because of this, on July 7 — day one — Threads boasted 44 million daily active users.
For multifamily firms accustomed to marketing on Twitter, those stats are hard to ignore. The question is: will Threads provide the impact that Twitter once did? Experts say maybe.
“It’s worth paying attention to,” said Mike Whaling, founder of PropTech, a Columbus, Ohio-based marketing firm with a focus on multifamily living. “It’s big enough that we’re recommending our clients ‘claim their real estate’ there before someone else does.”
Comparing and contrasting
While Threads is similar to the way Twitter was designed in its functionality, there are some areas where the two social media platforms differ. Where the X platform now allows up to 280 characters for non-subscribers, Threads’ users can write up to 500. Video can be longer, too.
In addition, there are currently no direct messaging functions, no hashtags, no keyword search and no analytics. Much of this may change as the site evolves, but perhaps the lack of some Twitter-like features is partly to blame for Threads’ precipitous drop off in just one month. The site finished out July with just 8 million active users, down 82% from its peak.
Tamela Coval, industry principal with Atlanta-based Livewire, a brand agency with a multifamily arm, hasn’t loved the Threads experience so far, but also doesn’t write it off for her clients. “I’ve only made one post on Threads, but I do stalk it,” she said. “So far I find that Threads (content) isn’t a good professional fit.”
Because Threads users transfer over from Instagram, Coval has found her personal contacts there posting their personal news, but not so much her professional contacts.
“On Twitter I had a very cultivated feed,” she explained. “It was always a very powerful marketing tool, and Threads isn’t there yet.”
There’s also the question of whether or not the multifamily industry needs a Twitter copycat. “I personally don’t think so, but you could do the same basic content for both,” Coval said. “Create a strategy for both, and maybe even bring in ChatGPT to help you.”
Whaling said it’s questionable where either site stands in terms of marketing value.
“Customer behavior has evolved on social media,” he told Multifamily Dive. “In the past, users would search for hashtags like #apartmenthunting and that would help them shop for new spaces. Increasingly, however, Twitter became the place customers would go to complain about their apartments. It’s a more dangerous place now from a brand perspective.”
That said, Threads’ visual content may ultimately help it succeed, according to Whaling. “If you look at where shopping behavior is going, people are gravitating toward the visual platforms,” he said.
For that reason, he recommends clients consider engaging current residents in marketing on these platforms, where a little spend can go a long way.
“In general, multifamily doesn’t do a good enough job getting tenants to be its advocates,” he said. “Residents are happy to share their good experiences and photos of where they live. All you have to do is pull it back and share it with your handles.”
Zuckerberg has promised more features as Threads matures, and perhaps that will ultimately make it more valuable to the multifamily industry. In the meantime, however, most marketers say there’s no harm in giving it a try.
Nevertheless, a quick search reveals few apartment companies on the site as of yet. “I think Meta is learning,” said Coval, “and eventually there may be some value over there for the B2C industry.”