Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, launched Threads, a new text-based app to rival Twitter, in July 2023. The app promised to offer a better microblogging experience with more features and less toxicity. But how successful has Threads been in attracting and keeping users? And what are the challenges and opportunities for Meta as it tries to compete with Twitter?
Threads: A brief overview
Threads is an app that allows users to post short messages, called threads, of up to 500 characters. Users can also include links, photos and videos up to five minutes long in their threads. Threads can be liked, reposted, replied to or quoted by other users. Users can also follow other users or topics of interest.
Threads is integrated with Instagram, which means that users need an Instagram account to sign up for Threads. Users can also share their threads on Instagram or vice versa. Threads also has some features that are not available on Twitter, such as a reverse-chronological content feed, a desktop version of the app and direct messages.
Threads: The initial hype and the subsequent decline
Threads launched with much fanfare and hype in more than 100 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and Japan. According to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Threads logged 5 million sign-ups in its first four hours of operation. The app also topped the charts in the Apple and Google app stores in many countries.
However, the initial excitement soon faded as users started to lose interest in the app. According to market research firms Similarweb and Sensor Tower, Threads’ daily active user count dropped by 82% from launch as of July 31. Users also opened the app less frequently and spent less time there. As of August 1, Threads’ daily average time spent fell to just 2.9 minutes a day, and people spent only 2.6 sessions per day using the app.
Threads: The challenges and opportunities
Why did Threads fail to retain its users? And what can Meta do to improve its prospects? Here are some possible reasons and suggestions:
Lack of differentiation: Threads is very similar to Twitter in terms of its core functionality and user interface. Users may not see enough value or novelty in switching from Twitter to Threads or using both apps simultaneously. Meta could try to differentiate Threads by adding more unique features or content that are not available on Twitter or other platforms.
Lack of network effects: Threads is still a relatively new and small platform compared to Twitter, which has more than 300 million monthly active users. Users may not find enough people or topics that they care about on Threads. Meta could try to attract more influencers, celebrities, media outlets and other popular accounts to join and post on Threads. Meta could also leverage its existing platforms, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, to cross-promote Threads and encourage users to invite their friends and contacts.
Lack of moderation: Threads claims to have a more civil and respectful community than Twitter, which is often criticized for its toxicity and harassment issues. However, Threads may also face similar challenges in moderating its content and users, especially as it grows larger and more diverse. Meta could try to implement more effective policies and tools to prevent and address abuse, misinformation and hate speech on Threads. Meta could also foster a more positive and constructive culture on Threads by rewarding good behavior and promoting quality content.
Threads is Meta’s ambitious attempt to challenge Twitter’s dominance in the microblogging space. However, the app has faced difficulties in retaining its users after its initial launch. Meta will need to overcome several challenges and seize some opportunities to make Threads a more successful and sustainable platform.