After testing them out in selected markets over the last few weeks, Threads topic tags are now being rolled out to all users worldwide, providing more ways for users to find relevant discussions in the app.
As per Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, Threads topic tags, which are like hashtags but not, will help to guide conversations in the app, and drive more topical engagement around whatever subject you like.
Threads has been very cautious with its rollout of tags, as it works to create a more positive environment, which, ideally, will also see less abuse of such features.
As such, Threads topic tags differ from traditional hashtags because:
- You can only add one tag per post, so you can’t just slap on a million trending hashtags in order to get your post into a trending topic stream
- You have to manually add a tag within the composer, so you can’t just copy and paste the same post and have the tag be active
- You can create a topic tag of multiple words, with spaces, so they fit more naturally, as opposed to inserting the # symbol, breaking up your sentence
Once you add a tag, your post can then be more easily found based on that specific subject, though all mentions of the same keywords will also show up in the same search stream, whether they’ve been topic-tagged by the creator or not.
Also, that search stream cannot be sorted chronologically.
Why is that?
As Mosseri explained earlier in the week:
“Having a comprehensive list of *every* post with a specific word in chronological order inevitably means spammers and other bad actors pummel the view with content by simply adding the relevant words or tags.”
Which, of course, is a common issue on the platform formerly known as Twitter, that spammers simply add trending hashtags to their spam posts, in order to get their content in front of more people in popular streams. Which, again, also why Threads is limiting the use of topic tags to one per post at this stage, as a means to restrict the capacity for this to be used as a spam vector, and flood key conversation surfaces with junk.
Essentially, Threads topic tags are hashtags without the hash, and they don’t have the same power for driving trending conversation due to the variance in approach that the Threads team is making in the hopes of building a more positive real-time discussions network.
Which may be an impediment. The real value of Twitter was that it enabled you to get the latest news on any given subject, because that, generally, was where the top stories broke, in all sectors. Threads, at this stage, is less useful in this respect, but topic tags is another step in the right direction, and the Threads team is developing new approaches that will hopefully bring it more into line with the in-the-moment discovery value of what Twitter had been.
It’s just being more cautious, though the lessons it will learn from an expanded rollout of topic tags will be extremely valuable in this respect.
Essentially, it’s another step towards Threads being a true X replacement. It’s not the full solution as yet, but the Threads crew is working on new approaches that will hopefully improve upon the traditional real-time social experience.