While Meta has repeatedly stated that it’s happy with the progress of Threads, its Twitter-like real-time social network, new reports have suggested that Meta management is growing more concerned about Threads’ slowing growth, which has seen account sign-ups slow significantly after its initial, record-setting growth spurt.
After reaching 100 million users in just five days after launch, Threads has gained only 32 million more profiles in the proceeding three months. At the same time, third-party analysis suggested that Threads usage is in steep decline, falling from a peak of 21 minutes per user, per day back in July, to just 6 minutes per session now. For context, in May this year, Elon Musk reported that X users were spending around 31 minutes per day in the app.
Threads is still in development, so fluctuation and churn was always likely, but apparently, Meta is now investigating new ways to recapture its early buzz and drive more people to the app.
As reported by The Information, Meta’s currently looking to get more high-profile creators posting more often to the app, in a bid to encourage more engagement.
As per The Information:
“This month, Instagram, which created Threads, will hold multiple focus groups with creators in an effort to learn what would make it more appealing, said a person with direct knowledge of the situation. Instagram’s partnerships department, which handles non-advertising deals with media companies and creators, has targets set around getting new creators onto Threads and retaining existing ones, the person said.”
That’s in line with Meta’s initial growth strategy for Threads, which saw it recruit a range of high-profile identities to spark interest in the new app.
Evidently, those early adopters, which included Oprah and the Dalai Lama, have drifted from the app since, so Meta’s looking to launch a new push to get more influential people more active again.
Though the fact that it’s asking creators may not bode well. It has seemed like Meta had a defined growth strategy in place for the app, but maybe, it doesn’t have the scope of ideas that it had initially seemed.
Meta’s also been looking to use Instagram’s reach as a means to boost Threads interest, with in-feed alerts for trending Threads discussions, and prompts to get users to sign-up to register their Threads account.
It’s also now testing a new display, which would show a users’ latest thread right on their IG profile page.
As you can see in this example, shared by @ec_wife on X, the new listing would highlight your latest Threads update directly beneath your IG profile, which could be another way to spark interest.
On another front, Threads is also now testing new “first Threads” notifications within the app itself, to get more people engaging with new users from the feed.
Meta still has a range of levers like this, which it could pull to boost Threads exposure. Though thus far, it seems that not many of them are driving more activity in the app, which could prompt Meta to make more drastic changes in approach, in order to capitalize on the opportunity that exists for a genuine X rival.
Because clearly, with 100 million early sign-ups, there is an opportunity there. Some of that, of course, is tied into Meta linking Threads to your IG account, and its simplified Threads profile creation. But every time that Elon Musk makes a divisive comment, or X makes a less-than-popular change, sign-ups to alternative platforms surge, and Threads, right now, seems like the most active, most viable option, which could still see Meta benefit.
Threads still has a lot of other improvements to make as well. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has noted that post editing is coming, along with an API, which would enable scheduling and expanded Threads activity from publishers, while the Threads algorithm also needs to be more specifically attuned to Threads engagement, as opposed to using your IG graph as a proxy for interest.
Because the people and profiles that users will follow in each app are likely very different, and right now, Threads isn’t showing users the most engaging suggestions in-stream.
All of these improvements are coming, but the signs, right now at least, aren’t trending upward in the way that Meta would like.
Really, while a lot of people are seeking an X alternative, it still remains the best app for following breaking news and real-time events, while discussion around sports, TV shows, etc., all still see far more activity in the former bird app.
Threads does have an opportunity for disruption, but its path is not easy, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Meta team can crack the code, and maximize user engagement. Or if Meta will eventually lose interest, in favor of the metaverse, or AI, or whatever the next big project of focus may be.
Personally, I remain confident that Threads can find a place within the broader social media landscape, but I’m less confident of that place being an outright Twitter alternative. X, for all its flaws, has such a well-established hold, in many respects, that it’s still Elon’s position to lose. Which, based on some of his decisions for the app, he may still do, and maybe, that’s what Meta’s actually waiting for as the real migration trigger for its app.