Threads Engagement Drops Following ‘Red Hot Debut’
Thursday 20th July
by Beth Perrin
Threads Engagement Drops Following ‘Red Hot Debut’
Thursday 20th July 2023
In our previous blog post, we talked about the arrival of Meta’s fresh new app Threads and its instant rise to fame, achieving a record 100 million sign-ups in just 5 days. But has it managed to maintain this momentum since its debut? Was its rapid growth simply a result of its easy sign-up process due to its integration with Instagram? We’re going to analyse the subsequent reaction to the app and find out whether the Twitter rival is likely to become a regular part of users’ social media lineups or if it’s just a passing phase.
Has Threads’ Growth Already Slowed Down?
Research from various sources suggests that Threads’ initial growth may have already slowed. Managing Director of Financial Sales at marketing intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Anthony Bartolacci, told CNBC: “The first 72 hours of Threads was truly in a class by itself. But on Tuesday and Wednesday, the platform’s number of daily active users were down about 20% from Saturday, and the time spent per user was down 50%, from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.” He also stated that: “These early returns signal that despite the hoopla during its launch, it will still be an uphill climb for Threads to carve out space in most users’ social network routine.”
Additional data from Similarweb, a software and data company that specialises in web analytics and traffic, showed similar trends. It found that the app’s daily active users dropped from 49 million to 23.6 million in a week, with usage in the US (the app’s most popular market), peaking at about 21 minutes on 7th July before falling to just 6 minutes on 14th July.
Similarweb’s Senior Insights Manager, David Carr, also told CNBC: “While there was intense interest in checking out the app initially, not every user has made a habit of visiting Threads as often as they might other social apps.”
Are Twitter Users Migrating to Threads?
In the first two days that Threads was available (Thursday 6th and Friday 7th July), web traffic to the desktop version of Twitter was down 5% compared with the same days of the previous week. Although it did bounce back after this, it’s still down 11% year-on-year, suggesting that even before the release of Threads, people had slowly begun moving away from Twitter and seeking alternative apps - perhaps as a result of the many changes made to the platform by Elon Musk since his takeover last year.
On mobile (Android specifically), Twitter’s daily active worldwide users stayed mostly the same as usual on Threads’ peak days, but time spent on the app was down 4.3% - most likely because people were trying Threads instead. However, despite this drop, the average total time spent on Twitter was still around 25 minutes.
Similarweb has confirmed that it will be releasing the data for iOS usage in the coming weeks, as this platform is a little harder to track than Android.
What Does Threads Need to Do to Compete with Twitter?
As we noted in our previous blog post, there are a number of differences between Threads and Twitter, with many Twitter-style features currently missing from Threads (as well as EU availability). In order to truly compete - and to maintain the level of excitement and engagement it achieved during its first few days - Meta’s team may need to add some new tools to the platform so that users can confidently switch over without having to leave any of their favourite features behind. Here are just a few things Twitter offers that Threads doesn’t:
• A full desktop version
• A chronological ‘Following’ timeline (although Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has confirmed that this will be coming soon)
• A DM function (Mosseri initially stated that the company had no plans to roll out a messaging feature, but a leaked document shared by Business Insider hints that DMs may be arriving soon)
• A search bar - at the moment, the app’s search function only searches users, not keywords or general post content (again, Mosseri says this will be coming soon)
• The ability to edit posts, which is available to paid users on Twitter (also coming soon!)
However, it’s important to remember that Mosseri has stated that: “The goal [of Threads] isn’t to replace Twitter”, so Threads won’t be directly copying Twitter features just for the sake of it - but for those who are hoping to quit Twitter and use Threads as an alternative, the introduction of these tools would most likely seal the deal.
Some users also believe that Threads’ focus on positivity, community and lighthearted conversations might make it difficult for the app to stand up against Twitter - a platform which is well-known for political discussions and debates surrounding current affairs. Editor at The Verge, Alex Heath, said: “[It] will be interesting to see how the news industry does/doesn’t embrace Threads. Meta as a company has spent the past few years actively distancing itself from news and literally downranking it in FB and IG. But if this app is going to be a real Twitter competitor, it’s going to need the news industry to embrace it. Is Meta ready for that?”
Mosseri responded by saying that Threads “won’t do anything to encourage hard news and politics”, but also acknowledged that these kinds of topics will inevitably show up on the platform - which, depending on the type of experience they’re looking to have on social media - could be a deciding factor for some users.
Google Trends, which tracks interest in keywords over time, is a great way to visualise the rise and decline in popularity of Threads as a search term. It applies numerical values to words and phrases, with a score of 1 indicating minimal usage and a score of 100 indicating peak popularity.
If we take a look at the worldwide trend for Threads over the past 30 days, we can see that this term peaked on 6th July where it achieved the maximum score of 100, before dropping down to 62 the following day, and just 28 after that.
Now, if we compare this to Twitter (in red), we can see that Threads (in blue) briefly overtook Twitter on 6th July, with relative scores of 80 and 70 respectively - but on average, Twitter remained the more popular term.
It’s also worth noting that the popularity of more specific terms like ‘Meta Threads’, ‘Instagram Threads’ and ‘Threads app’ all stayed well below Twitter throughout this period, so the results can vary depending on the exact term used to search for the app.
Due to the fast-paced and somewhat fickle nature of social media, it’s not uncommon for new platforms and apps to burst onto the scene and generate lots of hype before settling down into a more steady cycle of usage, so Threads’ early drop in engagement isn’t necessarily bad news for Meta. It may just take some time for users to find out which app they prefer - Threads or Twitter - or whether they want to use both alongside each other. Plus, a successful rollout in the EU would introduce Threads to a whole new market, potentially resulting in a second wave of popularity for the app. Before it can do this though, it must overcome the significant data privacy concerns that are currently preventing it from launching there.
If you’ve given Threads a try and want to share your thoughts, drop us a DM on Instagram @3sixfivesocialmedia to let us know how you’re feeling about it so far. Has your personal use dropped since you first visited the app, or are you still checking it every day for updates from friends, family and brands?
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