There’s a new kid on the block looking to supplant Twitter. Threads by Meta got the best start any app could ever hope for, amassing over 30 million sign-ups on the first day. In just 5 days that tally had risen to 100 million. That’s the fastest start by any app, ever.
Naturally, the Elon Musk-hating half of the internet was quick to write their Twitter eulogies although some were skeptical Zuckerberg would be the guy to do it.
So, how has it been going for Threads since that explosive start?
The slow descent back to earth
All analysis shows that Threads has struggled to capitalise on its strong start.
In my personal opinion, the algorithm on that app is not very good. The posts I am seeing are not very interesting to me. A sentiment that is shared by many, apparently. Leading to the following, according to SimilarWeb:
- Daily active users on Android on 7 July – 49 million
- A week later on the 14th – 23.6 million, a 51.8% drop
Other analysis from SensorTower shows that:
- Daily active users on 6 July – 45 million
- A week later on the 13th – 28 million,
We expected some people to try it out and leave but this level of decline is higher than we thought it would be after just a week. I would argue that if the Threads experience was compelling, the decline would not have been as bad. It is clear that Threads was rushed to take advantage of some PR troubles Twitter was/is facing.
This is even clearer when we look at the average time spent in the app.
SimilarWeb says this fell from 21 minutes on 6 July to just 6 minutes on the 13th, a 71% drop.
If you’ve tried Threads you know that it is a little bare bones at the moment. Meta says updates will come and it will be able to match Twitter or at least compete in the future. It might even bring new features Twitter doesn’t have.
Analysts are starting to fear that those features might come too late, people are already forgetting about Threads. Will these people come back when Threads fixes its timeline issues? I don’t think so. I know I only opened Threads the first few days and haven’t since then. I’m still curious to see where it goes but I won’t be the guinea pig, I’ll let ya’ll use Threads and tell me when it improves.
Threads vs Twitter
In the first 2 days of Threads’ life, traffic to Twitter.com was down 5% from the previous week. No doubt Threads had something to do with that. Twitter bounced back though.
What Threads took away for a little bit was attention. People did not delete Twitter, nor did they neglect to open the app altogether. Twitter’s Daily active users were virtually unchanged even at the peak of Threads interest, but time spent was down 4.3%. Here’s how the average time spent in the apps worked out:
Zuckerberg is not worried though, he says,
I’m very optimistic about how the Threads community is coming together. Early growth was off the charts, but more importantly 10s of millions of people now come back daily. That’s way ahead of what we expected.
Can’t fault his reasoning here. There is no way they would have anticipated getting over 100 million downloads in the first week. So, although usage has dropped as novelty has worn off, they are probably ahead of schedule. I hope for their sake they improve the app before the 10s of millions left also leave.
Meat and bones
Threads offers a sanitised version of Twitter. That in itself could be its downfall. The chaos of Twitter is what is compelling about it. Just raw thoughts debated by humans and bots alike to while away the hours.
Threads is not too keen on political news. They don’t want any edgy or divisive stuff as that would make advertisers hesitant to work with them in the future. So don’t count on Hopewell or Jamwanda or whoever you flock to Twitter to hear from to thrive on Threads.
Brands feel safe on Threads and are reporting that they are getting good engagement on the app. Expect to interact with companies that are trying to sell stuff to you on Threads more than on Twitter. I am not sure how many people want that though.
So, as these platforms fight to be the public square of the internet, one is found lacking. If all you want are 5-year-old memes and no Zanu/CCC talk then Threads is for you.
Threads won’t be for breaking news either. One journalist for the Washington Post has already received two strikes on her account. She cried out saying:
Second Community guidelines violation in less than a week. How are we supposed to discuss or talk about news stories and the media when IG censors it? Other people posted this exact screenshot and got no violation. This is so ridiculous and I’m in danger of losing my IG account now.
She doesn’t get it. Threads is not about that. Keep your controversial ‘breaking news’ off the site.
I think what she wants is selective censoring. She should be allowed to discuss the news she thinks is worth discussing but the other side, which is wrong, obviously, should not be allowed to discuss its interesting news otherwise the site would become toxic like Twitter.
So, these are our options, my friends. A Twitter where people who believe the exact opposite of what you believe are free to voice their opinions but you are allowed to voice yours too. Or a Threads where we just don’t allow anything that could upset anyone to be discussed. Take your pick.