AI and Threads: 3 things to know right now

AI and Threads slide from a presentation on AI by Nick Chatrath in March 2023 at SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin TX.
Slide from a presentation on AI by Nick Chatrath in March 2023 at SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin TX.

Here is the AI and Threads scoop as we see it . . .

(Updated January 3, 2024 – Threads now has hashtags. You get one per post. Threads is now available for European Union countries as well.)

(Updated October 3, 2023 with Browse with Bing status, plus features added to Threads.)

(Updated August 1, 2023 with info about removal of Browse with Bing option in ChatGPT’s paid version, and addition of a Following feed on Threads.)

Three things each that you need to know right now about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Threads, the new X (Twitter) competitor that is an app connected to Instagram.

We will talk more about each of them in future blog posts, but this is an effort to give you a summary round-up of what to know now in two fast-changing areas of marketing communications.

3 Things to Know About AI

There is a LOT going on right now with AI and LLMs (Large Language Models) like ChatGPT.

Yes, we’re kinda tired of all the noise and hype, too.

Yes, despite that, you really do need to pay attention. This will change how marketing communications works, and the genie is not going to be stuffed back into the bottle.

The good news is that AI tools can be a productivity gold mine for you Mighty Teams of One or Two People.

For right now:

1) Start making yourself smarter about AI.

Here are some resources:

  •  Read Getting Started with Generative AI by one of the best no-BS, smartest people on this topic, Christopher Penn from Trust Insights. Get his newsletter.
  •  The Marketing AI Institute has blog posts, a podcast, a newsletter, and live events. They have a free, 30 minute live online class called Intro to AI for Marketers.
  •  The always-excellent MarketingProfs is running a Zoom series right now through August 15 called AI for Content Creators. Sheila is a paid Pro member and just finished the 3rd session. It is worth every penny (free to Pro members, or US$279 which includes a year of Pro membership) and you can catch what you missed with session recordings.

2) Learn to use a few of the tools. Focus on ones that can help you with tedious, repetitive tasks. Set aside a bit of budget for the ones that save you the most time.

  •  Get a free ChatGPT account with OpenAI, or play with the newer GPT-4 version for free through its integration with Bing Chat in the Bing (yes, Bing!) search engine – but you will need to do this in Microsoft’s Edge browser, formerly known as Internet Explorer – or try open source GPT4All.

Update Aug 2023OpenAI disabled the Browse with Bing feature that was in (paid) ChatGPT Plus, because it was accessing paywalled content.

Update Oct 2023Browse with Bing is back. That means using Bing is the easiest way to check out the more powerful GPT-4 for free.

  •  For making images, try Bing’s Image Creator powered by DALL-E (a Chris Penn tip.)
  •  Learn to write a better prompt to get a better draft answer. Trust Insights has a free prompt explainer and download.
  •  Pick a task, and there is an AI tool for it. Look for ones that can create draft social media posts, or draft videos from text content, or pull highlights/bullet points from a transcript, or create different versions of ads. It’s rather overwhelming, but you’ll find a searchable database on There’s An AI For That.

Screenshot landing page Google Search Labs AI search
Sign up to try AI-assisted Google Search Labs - the waitlist doesn't usually take very long. You'll get AI-generated results atop your normal Google results page.

3) Understand AI limitations.

If you’ve read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird about writing, you’ll know that she has a whole section on the importance of the “shitty first draft” to get you going as a writer. AI like ChatGPT will give you that first draft, possibly with ridiculous mistakes and made-up information because it’s a text predictor, not a genius.

Never take it as is! Take it as a starting point.

Note – The older ChatGPT-3 doesn’t have data/knowledge past 2021.

You have to train these models, and then they may turn around and forget their training.

Tip – copy/paste your “training” content and the responses into some sort of document like a Google Doc, so when it “forgets” what you told it and what it said back, you can feed it back in there.

Read through this about ethical concerns when using ChatGPT.

Get some more ideas from this Destinations International post on using AI to promote a destination.

3 Things to Know About Threads

We jammed this into the blog post at the last minute after staying up during the accelerated Threads app launch yesterday and last night.

So, this is about a day and a half of observation of the new competitor to X (Twitter.)

Take that as you will. 😊


Screenshot of Threads post social media manager joke by Mailchimp July 2023
Jokes from the Mailchimp account on Threads.

More to follow, obviously, but it took off like such a rocket (30 million signups the morning after launch) we decided to call a few things to your attention.

1) The power of any platform is the people on it.

Not the software, not the features, not the “buzz” or noise, not whoever the CEO is.

Other Twitter competitors have struggled because no one really wants to start all over building community.

Threads comes with community baked in, because Threads accounts are associated with Instagram accounts, and there are over 2 billion monthly active Instagram users.

That is why it is HOPPING right now – the people are already there.

We are there, too, of course. Follow Tourism Currents on Threads.

Update Oct 2023 – while there has been solid community growth on Threads, and we’re seeing more and more active CVB and DMO accounts, “HOPPING” is not the quite the word we’d choose right now. Threads is concerned about the level of engagement and retention on the app.

We think it’s still probably the most likely successful competitor to X (Twitter) compared to Bluesky, Mastodon, etc., but X still wins as the place to go for breaking news, disaster updates, and live sports chatter.

Note – Threads became available to EU (European Union) countries in mid-December, 2023. We’ve already seen EU DMOs become active.


Screenshot of Tourism Currents Threads post about finding tourism accounts

2) Go claim both your brand and personal Threads accounts if you have an Instagram account.

We went ahead and imported all those that we were already following on Instagram, which is what gave us an immediately-populated home feed.

Update Aug 2023 – Threads added a chronological Following feed to go with the algorithm-driven For you feed. Press the Threads icon at the top of your homepage to see the two feeds split out.  

It is NOT easy right now to toggle between accounts, although it’s certainly do-able, and there is no desktop version. You may need to sign in and out of accounts in the app on your phone and yes, it is tedious.

Update Oct 2023 – you can now switch between accounts, and there is a desktop version of Threads. They’ve also added universal search across the app, which helps a lot to find conversations about particular topics. Hashtags still do not work as a way to find certain discussions, and we see way too many Threads accounts using them in posts anyway, which looks silly.  Hashtags now work – you get one per post.

Right now, there is no way to see trending topics and no way to pre-schedule Threads posts.

Remember, they pushed up launch because they saw an opportunity to do so while Twitter continues to struggle. They aren’t idiots at Meta – all the features people are yelling for are no doubt on their list, including switch-ability (which you can now do easily in the Threads app, not yet on desktop where you still log in and log out,) DMs (none right now) and hashtags (not a usable feature right now.)  As of late December 2023, hashtags are rolled out and you get one per post.

3) As we always advise with new social platforms, claim that brand name, then lurk and learn for awhile using your personal account. 

Where is YOUR audience? Are they on Instagram, and so might be drawn to Threads?

Threads is mostly text-based discussion, although you can certainly use media in your posts there. We are seeing more and more tourism marketing accounts becoming active on Threads.

Do not regurgitate your IG posts on Threads; it’s more conversational.

Have you sat down and worked out how Threads could support your specific marketing goals?

Do you still get engagement and value on Twitter? If so, do not close up shop there yet.

Tell us in a comment below what you think about AI for marketing communications, or what you think of Threads so far.

 

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