The subtle art of threading (no, this ain’t about your eyebrows)

Let me first tell you I am no expert when it comes to Twitter threads. In fact, I had to ask a colleague (and then google) how to do it. And if you have no idea what threading is, it’s just linking a series of your tweets together. It can be especially helpful in crafting a story when 140 characters just doesn’t cut it. Thanks to Twitter Support… for showing me how to do it.

Twitter threads have been around since the beginning, but not in the current form. Early on you had to number each individual tweet. It was the poor man’s threading. You would write a tweet, number it, tweet it and repeat until you finished your thought. Those early forms had one big problem. You had to read the tweets, bottom to top.

But thanks to Twitter’s threading capability, your series of tweets now appear in sequential order.

Not everyone is happy with this threading function. Some, like Alana Levinson, believe it birthed “manthreading” and ruined the Twitter experience.  Manthreading, like it’s cousin, “mansplaining” is just online intellectual dribble, usually in the form of some obnoxious explanation.

While Levinson might not enjoy threading, I certainly find it helpful and have begun to notice a few journalists and news outlets use it in interesting ways. The investigative non-profit ProPublica is a great example. Take a look at this tweet about their reporting on the Trump Organization’s latest hotel chain.

The thread starts off  with a quote about the Trump Organization’s displeasure with ProPublica’s investigation.

ProPublica then follows up with a threaded tweet, laying the groundwork on why they think it is important reporting and backing up their claims with evidence.

I think this sort of reporting via threading is really beneficial. It allows you to make your case and display the evidence in a clean and orderly fashion. AND perhaps most importantly, it also allows users to see all of the related content, creating several channels of engagement on one particular topic.


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