At the beginning of July, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, announced the introduction of Threads, Instagram’s new text app.
And what a splash it made, soaring to 100 million users within the first week – an impressive feat even by ChatGPT’s standards!
Even Zuckerberg was taken aback by this explosive start and promised to improve the app with new features. Yet, the buzz seems to be dying down. Media narratives suggest Threads is seeing a sharp dip in active users. Additionally, daily engagement is waning, with users now spending an average of just 2.9 minutes a day on the app.
In his signature style, Elon Musk, CEO of X (formerly Twitter), didn’t miss the opportunity to put Zuckerberg down, stating that Threads committed the cardinal sin of boring users to death. It’s not uncommon for Musk to take aim at Meta’s CEO, but he might want to reflect on his own platform’s challenges before doing so… Although X/Twitter’s user base is currently stable, our research indicates that 30% of its users don’t believe in the platform’s quality due to constant changes in features and branding. Furthermore, it is no longer viewed as an enticing destination for advertisers.
Zuckerberg describes the drop in retention as “normal” and urges a sense of optimism as Meta works to enhance the fundamental features of threads and introduce new elements that are aimed at retaining users. Recent updates include the ability for users to share threads directly to Instagram, sorting the following list by various filters, viewing “liked” posts, and adjusting the chronological order of feeds.
The overarching question remains: will these adjustments be sufficient to sustain user interest?
While the jury is still out on this, Threads continues to present itself as a more appealing alternative to platforms like X/Twitter, Mastodon, or BlueSky.
Beyond this gloomy horizon, it is worth analysing where Threads is standing in the social media environment. Our research shows that almost 60% have heard about Threads, with 25–34-year-olds more aware at 70%. However, only 6% reported using the app on a regular basis.
The potential is undeniable: 80% of current users like using the app, while over 40% of non-users are interested in jumping onboard. This interest is more pronounced among the younger crowds (18-34 years: 55%, 35-54 years: 48%).
As shown in the chart below, before Threads entered the scene, the social media ecosystem was steady with WhatsApp (76% usage), closely followed by Facebook (71%) and Instagram (54%) leading the pack.
Despite recent events in the tech industry, like Meta’s layoffs and Elon Musk’s abrupt takeover of Twitter and continual changes to the platform, users seem content with their social media apps, suggesting more than just current events are needed to sway opinions. The last significant shift came with TikTok’s 2017 UK launch. Now TikTok and X/Twitter maintain a similar userbase, with 37% and 38% reported usage, respectively. Nevertheless, trailing far behind Meta’s platforms. This sets the stage for Threads, as most Instagram users can transition over with a few simple clicks.
In the coming months, the real test will be to see if the initial enthusiasm translates into sustained use.
Crucially, the type of users flocking to the app will be a key determinant, as it’s not just about the features, but also about the crowd. As our BrandVue data shows, different platforms cater to different audiences.
Facebook is still the app with the most diverse user base. X/Twitter and TikTok are popular options amongst people aged 16-24, while Instagram is appealing to this segment, but also to people aged 25-34. At present, it is still too soon to tell what the average user of Threads will look like, but we will soon be able to visualise it in our live dashboard.
In the advertising realm, many brands are still skeptical of Threads; nevertheless, several have started building their profiles as it seems that they are betting on the success of Meta’s new app despite the drop in active users. Additionally, many brands may still find this platform a safer bet to X/Twitter as it provides more certainty. After all, it is well-known that Zuckerberg is committed to creating risk-free environments for conducting business while Musk can only be described as unpredictable.
Building a presence in Threads seems like a safe investment that can bring benefits in the future provided that the app climbs to the awareness and usage levels of Meta’s other products. Perhaps the hype around the “Twitter killer” is unlikely to continue, but Zuckerberg seems confident that he is building something that can last.
So, Threads… sew far sew good?
While the prevailing narrative might label Threads as a failure, it’s too soon to call it. The app’s current retention rate stands at over 70%, impressive seeing as most apps struggle to reach 50% following their launch. Threads reached 100 million users within five days, a milestone that took X/Twitter more than 5 years to reach. Taking everything into account, Threads is performing well in comparison to other platforms, especially with changes yet to come, and the fact that it hasn’t even launched globally yet.
All things considered, Threads is far from a failure and we at Savanta will continue keeping a close watch on its performance via BrandVue, supplying brands with live data for informed decision making. For more insights, reach out to one our media experts here.