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Six Months After Threads’ Launch, Many Advisors Still Searching For An X Alternative

Despite initial excitement, enthusiasm for Meta’s new social media platform has been flagging among advisors.

Six months ago, it appeared Threads might become a legitimate challenger to Elon Musk's X, which had long been called Twitter.

Meta Platforms, the company behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, launched Threads in early July 2023. The new platform quickly gathered more than 30 million users in just a few hours. Among those jumping onto the new social media platform were prominent celebrities, from Jennifer Lopez, to Oprah and MrBeast, as well as brands, including Bloomberg and Wendy’s. Members of the FinTwit crowd such as Josh Brown, Tyrone Ross Jr. and Jess Bost, among others, followed on the heels of the celebrities. By October 2023, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company's third-quarter earnings call that Threads had around 100 million monthly active users.

For the uninitiated, Meta Platform's Instagram users can automatically send follow requests on Threads to those following them on the other platform (and their followers can do the same), and thus, can in theory quickly build a following on Threads, too. So, instead of having to slowly rebuild audiences from scratch on X alternatives like Post, Mastodon and Bluesky, those with an established Instagram following would have a significant head start. Other differences exist between Threads and X. For example, X allows 280 characters for posts from non-paid accounts while Threads allows for 500 characters. Threads accounts can be deleted, but the user’s Instagram account, which it is tied to, will be deleted, too. Also, unlike X, Threads does not currently offer direct messages, hashtags or tagging.

Despite the initial excitement, enthusiasm for Threads has been flagging among some advisors who initially signed up.

Elliott Weir III, an advisor with III Financial in Cedar Park, Texas, with about $25 million in AUM, said when Threads first launched, he hoped it would become a viable alternative to X. Weir said he hardly ever checks X any longer, despite previously engaging with the platform. He said the increase in spam, bots and trolls on X, combined with others leaving the platform, made it increasingly unappealing. In addition, the conversion of the free service TweetDeck, which helps manage multiple accounts, to a paid service called X Pro “sealed the deal.”

Elliott Weir III.jpg“That's sad to me,” he said. “I miss hearing from some of our industry's best minds and having the ability to engage them in discussion.”

Half a year later, he said while he is still on Threads, he only checks it a few times a week and finds the interface unappealing.

“Since this summer, my usage of social media continues to decrease,” he said.

Weir said the people he followed closely on X mostly have not adopted Threads thus far.

“I have yet to find a good alternative to X,” he said. “I remain hopeful that someday that community can be rebuilt elsewhere."

Features that have made other social media platforms a vital resource have been notably missing from Threads. For example, Threads only added a hashtag-like function, called Tags, to the platform in December. However, Threads allows one of these Tags per post, while other platforms give users the option to add more. And the lack of large public groups, like those that exist on Facebook, leaves users further siloed.

“I don't focus too much on Threads as it's very difficult to get messaging out,” said Eric Rodriguez, an advisor and founder of WealthBuilders, a San Diego-based, fee-only, solo RIA with about $55 million AUM.

Rodriguez said he still uses Threads to connect to other advisors and read news headlines, but not for exposure for his business. He said he uses social media platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn extensively to connect with his clients and prospects, who are mainly business owners and young professionals. He said Instagram in particular has been key to building the firm’s brand awareness and acquiring new prospects.

Bri Conn.jpgBri Conn, an advisor with Childfree Wealth, an advice-only and fee-only firm with two advisors and four employees, said she thought Threads was interesting when their firm first signed up, but it quickly turned into a chore. Between focusing on clients and communicating through other means, such as the podcast she co-hosts, the “Childfree Wealth Podcast,” she said there isn't much time left to engage with Threads. She said while Threads may be beneficial for some firms, they “tend to focus on other avenues that make a broader impact.”

Others haven’t even bothered to sign up for Threads, despite being active on other platforms.

Noah Damsky, an advisor with Marina Wealth Advisors in Los Angeles, with one advisor, two employees and around $20 million AUM, said the firm mostly uses LinkedIn for social media interactions and it did not prioritize Threads when it first launched. He said the firm has no plans to integrate Threads into its social media repertoire any time soon.

Kip Lytel, an advisor with Montecito Capital Management in Santa Barbara, Calif., with two advisors and about $36 million in AUM, said the firm regularly posts on X, Facebook Meta Business, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, among others. However, between the lack of performance data and the inability to separate accounts from Instagram, he said the firm is taking a cautious approach to Threads.

“It is still a bit premature call the platform a successful option,” he said.

Despite these setbacks, there may be some hope for Threads, especially among younger professionals.

Andy Moran.JPGLast year, Andy Moran passed the Certified Financial Planner exam and founded Ad Astra Financial Planning in Henderson, Nev. In the first quarter of 2024, he hopes to also add investment management to his practice. He said the reach he’s able to gain through Threads “blows my Twitter engagement out of the water.” His posts on Threads, mostly computer programming memes, go viral with some regularity. He said Threads has helped him gain traction among his niche client base of West Coast-based software engineers. He has also launched a weekly newsletter to sustain those interactions.

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