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Two truths and a lie: what Meta got right with the Threads launch

Meta's new app, Threads, is a Twitter clone that launched last week. It's not perfect, but it's a great example of a product launch that went extremely well.

Threads is here

Last week Meta launched Threads, their new Twitter clone. It is (to date, at least) the most successful app launch of all time, gaining 100M users in its first week. I installed the app at launch, and have been using it - find me @irreverentmike if you're on the app!

Meta is by no means a perfect company - their inept handling of data privacy leading up to the 2016 US Presidential election is not something I will forget anytime soon.

With that being said, I think they got a lot of things right with this product launch, and I want to talk about them. These are the things that stand out to me the most, two-truths-and-a-lie style:

Threads takes advantage of Instagram's network effect

The value of tying Threads to Instagram in a way that is honest and helpful was apparent from the jump. By tying Threads to Instagram, Meta was able to massively utilize the network effect.

For once, I didn't need to worry about "securing" my username by signing up early. Good old @irreverentmike was reserved for me because I already have the account name on Instagram. That's great!

I also didn't need to worry about finding my friends on the app. Threads has an option to automatically import my Instagram followers, following them for me if and when they set up their accounts. Think about how much of a chore that would be if I had to do it manually, every few days, over and over, to make sure I didn't miss anyone. What's even better is that this is totally optional - if you want Threads to be a fresh, clean slate, you're welcome to do that as well.

Threads will support the fediverse and the decentralized web... maybe.

Let me be the first to tell you that I'm not super excited to see another billionaire-controlled social network take the main stage. I'm still holding out hope for Mastodon and the fediverse in the long run.

Right around Threads' public launch, Meta's head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri posted about Meta's plans to support ActivityPub, the protocol that underlies Mastodon and the fediverse. This is a big deal, and I'm excited to see it happen... and extremely skeptical that it ever will.

Screenshot of Adam Mosseri's threads post, with the message "We're committed to building support for ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon, into this app. We weren't able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralized network, but it's coming.

If you're wondering why this matters, here's a reason: you may one day end up leaving Threads, or, hopefully not, end up de-platformed. If that ever happens, you should be able to take your audience with you to another server. Being open can enable that."
Adam Mosseri's post on Threads, announcing that Meta is committed to supporting ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon.

You may or may not have noticed, but Threads is not available to our friends in the EU - Meta has not yet figured out how to comply with GDPR, Europe's strict regulations around data privacy and information sharing for tech companies.

Meta has paid some huge fines in the past for violating GDPR, and I'm sure they're not eager to do it again. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm willing to bet that supporting ActivityPub will be a huge headache for Meta's legal team. I'm not holding my breath.

Threads launches on July 6

(Spoiler: this one is the lie.)

Meta spent a ton of time and effort telling the world that Threads was launching on July 6th, 2023. They managed press expectations extremely well here circulating images announcing the launch to press sources; they even added features to instagram to generate an image of a "ticket" inviting instagram users to the app at 10am on July 6th (see: cover image at the top of this page).

Photo of an iphone with the IOS App Store, showing a 'coming soon' screen for the Threads app, with saying Launchy date expected July 6, 2023
This is an image shared as part of Meta's press blitz, announcing their July 6th launch date.

The app actually launched to the public a day early - on July 5th, 2023. I was sitting in my kitchen when I got a push notification that the app went live. I installed it and created my account within minutes... and was something like the 480,000th user to sign up.

This is a great example of a company managing expectations well. By announcing a launch date, and then launching a day early, Meta was able to generate a ton of press and excitement around the launch. This is a great example of a company managing expectations well.

Worth mentioning: my initial app launch experience was not to an empty feed - Meta had clearly given early access to some major high-follower accounts, who had apparently been posting for a while already. As much as I dislike the feeling of being a second-class user on an app from day 1, this is a great way to make sure that the app doesn't feel empty on launch day.

What you can learn from this launch

After spending months working on a product, it's all too common for founders and product teams to get lazy about their launch. I've seen it happen time and time again - a product is ready to go, but the team is tired, and they just want to get it out the door. They don't want to spend the time and energy to make sure that the launch is a success.

Friends -- the success of your launch all comes down to planning. Plan your launch carefully, have clear and open communication about what you've built and why, and do as much as you can to build hype and excitement around your launch in the weeks that lead up to it.

There's no point in building a product if you're not going to do everything you can to make sure that people know about it. If you're not willing to put in the work to make sure that your launch is a success, you're not ready to launch.

A feature about me from my friends at Polywork

Screenshot of an article about me on the Polywork Blog, with the title 'Why Mike Bifulco isn't afraid to be driven by the fear of regret'

I'm a huge fan of Polywork, which is professional network for sharing what you're working on, and finding interesting people to collaborate with. It's like LinkedIn, but for people who actually do things. 😬

I've been using Polywork since its launch a couple years back, and have been giving the team my honest feedback on their product and the features they've been building along the way.

Imagine my surprise when they reached out to me to ask if I'd be interested in being featured on their site! I was thrilled and humbled to be asked, and I'm excited to share the feature with you here:

Why Mike Bifulco isn’t afraid to be driven by the fear of regret

It honestly feels a little strange to share an article someone wrote about me - but at the same time, I'm really proud of the work I've done, and I'm excited to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it! Shout out to my new pal Nick Lioudis for taking the time to this.

It means the world to me.

Alright fam - it's been a busy few weeks for me, and I'm excited to get back to work. I hope you're all doing well, and I'll see you next week!

Two truths and a lie: what Meta got right with the Threads launch

Meta's new app, Threads, is a Twitter clone that launched last week. It's not perfect, but it's a great example of a product launch that went extremely well.



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