Threads Grew Extremely Fast, But User Engagement Metrics Now Trend Down
In social media app history, Meta’s latest venture broke all growth records. Threads, the app aiming to rival Twitter, marked over 100 million signups in less than a week. It became the most downloaded app, with an average of 40 million weekly downloads. Mark Zuckerberg attributed it to “mostly organic demand” without having to enable “many promotions yet.”
For comparison, Twitter reached this milestone in September 2011, over five years after its launch. However, it is also the case that Thread’s seamless integration into Instagram, which has ~500 million daily active users, made the user flow predictable.
Following the initial buzz that boosted META stock, social media analytics show a significant downturn in user activity.
Threads Lacks Engagement
At present, Quiver Quantitative shows an estimated 110 million Threads users. The 100M milestone was breached on Tuesday, tapering off from initial sharp acceleration.
Likewise, the market intelligence firm SensorTower shows dwindling engagement, less than a third of Twitter, which has more consistent user activity. Compared to Instagram, Threads’ parent app, the average time spent is 85% lower.
SimilarWeb analytics show a similar downtrend but with a twist. Twitter user loyalty shows flexibility. When Threads fully entered the public spotlight last Thursday and Friday, Twitter.com traffic dropped by 5% compared to the week prior.
Compared to a year prior, the traffic was down 11%. Interestingly, even without Threads, Twitter traffic experienced a 4% year-over-year decline in June. This begs the question, is there room for growth?
Is the Social App Demand Fertile?
When dealing with any business aiming to take a slice of the same pie, the question is, how big is that pie? More precisely, does it constitute a space that can grow further?
The Twitter model is too simple to enhance. People are limited to posting short messages precisely because human attention is scarce. The question, then, is not how this mechanism can be copied but on which platform is the network effect already cemented.
Other clone attempts, such as Mastodon, Substack Notes, Steamit, Bluesky, show minimal growth. Human attention these days must be divided between Netflix, TikTok, Twitch, and hundreds of entertainment packages. In other words, the specialized niche of Twitter-like engagement likely already captured that global attention span.
From this standpoint, it is not likely that great social media app upheaval can happen. But, what can happen is that Meta uses Threads to maximize user extraction through ActivityPub.
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Fediverse and ActivityPub Gambit
Still in the works, Threads is set to become a part of the so-called fediverse (federation+universe). This is reminiscent of Meta’s fading metaverse efforts, having incurred heavy losses via the Reality Labs division. In the fediverse, the ActivityPub protocol will connect different social network servers.
Theoretically, Mastodon users could interact with Threads users, including the mutual following. Because the protocol is decentralized, Meta would have no control over engagement. This would expand to even deleted content.
If a post is removed, Threads could ask other servers to do the same but would have no means to do it on third-party servers. However, even if that is the case, the fediverse would likely track all data flows like Threads does.
In turn, Meta would gain valuable insight into all competitive networks. Given Zuckerberg’s cloning tactics history, from Snapchat and TikTok to Cameo and Pinterest, Threads could become a vehicle for further consolidation of Meta’s market share.
With all things equal, do you think a platform with more restrictions is an attractive proposition? Let us know in the comments below.