On 05 July, Meta launched Threads, a social media platform that achieved 100 million downloads in the first five days. While some online healthcare professionals (eHCPs) have begun creating new networks on Threads, an analysis of the eHCP conversation revealed that more eHCPs are currently critical of Threads than are excited about it. While some have concerns about privacy, and the connection of Threads to Instagram, many are daunted by the prospect of having to rebuild their networks on a new platform.
More eHCPs are reluctant than are hopeful
In the two weeks after Threads’ launch, CREATION Pinpoint identified 7,997 posts by eHCPs on Twitter discussing the new platform. We analysed the 100 most shared posts. We found that 37 of these were critical of the new platform or expressed hesitancy to try it and 27 were positive about the possibility of Threads replacing Twitter. Others shared news about Threads without adding their opinion.
eHCPs expressed several concerns about Threads
Currently, a Threads account must be linked to an Instagram account, which for many eHCPs is a barrier. They want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. And because of Threads’ connection to Instagram, some eHCPs are questioning whether it is a suitable home for medical and scientific conversations. They are frustrated that their feeds on Threads are filled with ‘inspirational quotes and unnaturally positive celebrities.’
Ok, so Threads is connected to instagram, on medical twitter I am an OBGYN surgeon, so get tweets about renal complications in pregnancy but on Threads and instagram I am a cat 😺 #threadsvstwitter
— Dr. Kim Turner 💙 (@kaytuna2) July 13, 2023
Additionally, while eHCPs note that Threads is ‘more insta and smiley-happy’ than Twitter, some eHCPs are wary of the censorship that may contribute to the perceived friendliness of Threads and Instagram. We found 76 eHCPs on Twitter who expressed concern about meta’s censorship of free speech. eHCPs also had concerns about privacy issues on Threads: several described the new platform as a ‘privacy nightmare.’
eHCPs’ main reason for hesitancy, however, is losing the large followings and communities that they’ve built on Twitter. Liz O’Riordan, a breast cancer surgeon, told her followers, ‘life is too short to cultivate and nurture a community on another platform.’ The absence of hashtags and an unpersonalised algorithm makes building community particularly difficult.
Joined threads. Can be arsed with it. It’s all my insta followers on a diff platform and life is too short to cultivate and nurture a community on another platform. If Twitter goes then I may change my mind but you guys mean too much to me on here
— Dr Liz O'Riordan 🚢 (@Liz_ORiordan) July 7, 2023
Some eHCPs are trying out the new platform
Nevertheless, between 05 July and 18 July, 309 eHCPs told their followers on Twitter that they’re trying Threads or shared a link to their Threads profile. Indeed, some of the most influential and trusted HCPs on Twitter have joined Threads. Stephanie Graff, who CREATION.co identified as a Digital Opinion Leader (DOL) in oncology, has shared original content on the platform. Eric Topol, another leading voice in the online HCP conversation, has been sharing some of the same scientific content on Threads and Twitter, and his posts are receiving similarly high levels of engagement on both.
Some eHCPs are discussing unique benefits of Threads. There is the potential for Threads to become more patient focused than Twitter, for example. An oncologist said he would like to see more ‘engaging w patient advocates and the cancer survivor community’ on Threads; Eleonora Teplinsky replied, ‘I think Threads is going to be perfect for that.’ Jen Gunter posted a Thread saying ‘I’ve got 10 minutes. Ask me anything!’; 30 members of the public replied to her.
eHCPs are unlikely to leave Twitter just yet
It’s likely that even those eHCPs who have joined Threads will stay active on Twitter too, at least until Threads implement changes that developers are promising. eHCPs have said they’re, ‘waiting to see how it all plays out.’ For most eHCPs, the pull of a friendlier, Elon Musk-free platform doesn’t outweigh the effort it will take to rebuild their communities on Threads.