So what’s new on Threads, and does anybody still care, with reports that Threads usage is rapidly declining, as people revert back to the social apps they already know and love?
Despite the doomsayers, the Threads team is working to develop new functionality, including voice posts, a desktop app, hashtag support (maybe), and more.
First off, Threads is reportedly developing voice notes, which will provide another way to connect in the app.
As you can see in this example, shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Threads users will soon be able to attach a voice clip, in addition to images and video, to enhance their posts.
“So what?” I hear you say. Well, while voice notes are not a big deal for most Western users, where voice elements are important is in regions where many languages are spoken, yet not everyone can write each as fluently.
In India, for example, there are over 100 languages spoken throughout the nation, and while many have learned to communicate in different audible forms, literacy levels are not as high. As such, voice notes serve a direct, practical purpose, and could help to maximize the use of social apps among billions of people.
So yeah, it may be no big deal for you, but it’s potentially a massive addition to facilitate broader adoption.
On a desktop app, both Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram Chief Adam Mosseri have noted that a desktop version of Threads is coming very soon, with the new tool already being tested internally by the Threads team.
A desktop app will enable journalists and publishers to be more active on Threads, by having it open and on-screen, in among their daily workflow, and that could be a big step in facilitating more engagement and activity within the platform.
There's also been some smaller functional additions, including a "Reposts" tab on user profiles, so you can see what each user has shared, in addition to their original posts and replies, while reposts will now also be included in people's "Following" feeds, which essentially means that they'll act more like retweets, and glean more reach benefits as a result.
Finally, on hashtag support, Mosseri seems to be leaning towards not supporting hashtags specifically in the app, with tags instead to be incorporated into general text search.
That makes some sense, though it’ll be interesting to see whether users actually prefer to have clickable tags and conversation links, as opposed to regular text queries.
But as noted, the bigger question, of course, is whether Threads is already dead, with usage declining, and the app seemingly failing to capitalize on its early momentum.
After its massive debut, which suggested that it could be the Twitter alternative that many had been seeking, traffic to Meta’s text-based app has steadily declined, with reports this week suggesting that Threads usage has dropped by 79%, from a high of 2.3 million active users in early July, to just 576,000 as of the 7th of August.
Clearly, Threads hasn’t been able to maintain that early hype. Hamstrung by functional limitations, the app is currently sitting on 124 million members, which means that it’s added only 24 million more users over the last five weeks, after racing to 100 million in its first five days.
Of course, no one would expect Threads to maintain that initial growth rate. But the fact that it’s declined so significantly is a concern, with many now proclaiming the app to be dead on arrival, as Meta fails to grasp the true value of what made Twitter great.
So should you just wave at the hype train as it departs and move on with your day?
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily count Threads out entirely just yet.
Meta itself has repeatedly noted that engagement in the app is strong, which is a good sign for future potential. Of course, Meta would say that, but where Threads has definitely maintained a level of relevance is with journalists, and other high-profile cast-offs from X, who have been alienated by Elon Musk’s attacks on the mainstream media, among other questionable stances and decisions.
If Threads can maximize its appeal to these cohorts, it still stands a chance to win significant audience share from X.
In many ways, Musk has likely underrated the value of this audience, and the attention that they bring, and if they start to drag that attention elsewhere, that could still make Threads a significant and important app, which fragments the traditional Twitter user base.
So will Threads win out? Functional updates will clearly help, and I do think that there’s enough support for the platform, or indeed opposition to X, to fuel the fire, and make it a viable alternative.
The numbers right now are not great, but the actual engagement on Threads remains strong, and I can see a lot of more significant conversations switching to the app, and away from X, as Elon continues to reiterate his own ideologies through X policy.