Threads, a new microblogging app by Meta, burst onto the scene in July 2023, reaching 44 million daily active users (DAUs) at its peak. However, within just two weeks, the user count plummeted by 70% to 13 million DAUs, according to data from Sensor Tower. What does this mean for brands who made use of it hastily?
This dip in user count in Threads’ early stages illustrates two poignant points: users sign up and post ‘I’m here, what now?’ to drive up DAUs in the short-term, and the question of ‘what now?’ has not been answered (yet). This trend, while worrying, makes it too early to rule out Threads as a platform of choice, and brands shouldn’t jump ship just yet. According to the Wall Street Journal, Meta executives even said they had planned on a sharp decline in DAUs in the first few weeks of Threads’ launch.
Threads making a strong start comes as no surprise; the widely used Instagram app was giving it a lot of hype, making it easy to create an account. It was also enticing to automatically replicate one’s entire Instagram profile to a Threads profile. The biggest draw was enabling new Threads users to easily follow all the accounts they were already following on Instagram. But was this the correct strategy?
As users easily jumped from Instagram to Threads, they were presented with an entirely different way to interact with their friends. Not through photos, videos, and stories, but through, primarily, text. This shift from an Instagram-style thinking to a Twitter-style thinking had many people questioning if their text-based Threads needs were being met by the same creators they follow on Instagram.
Apart from the psychology of interaction, the app’s feature set is still rather slim. With an app as new as this, we’re all effectively beta testers for the current feature set, and for features to come. According to a few user reviews on Google Play and Apple App Store, the biggest pain points are that there isn’t a chronological feed (a tall order from a Meta platform), you can’t view your likes, and there isn’t a place to publish from a computer.
This last pain point is important for many social media managers since it becomes uncomfortable to manage a growing audience from a smartphone. Meta says this feature is in the works, but there’s no ETA on it yet. Post scheduling is also not available via the app or third-party providers, so managers will need to set alarms for posting, which is not ideal.
Taking a closer ‘microeconomic’ look at Threads, brands should keep in mind that these are real people they’re interacting with. It’s a rare opportunity to be on a new network that has the resilience of Instagram’s mature bot detection, so it is a great time to have real eyeballs on one’s content. If brands are posting content to the platform, they need to stay on top of making their audience feel seen and heard. This could be as simple as liking or reposting a positive message from a client or customer, or going into a conversation with those who reply (if time allows). The key is to answer the ‘I’m here, what now?’ question on your audience’s mind. Building a community takes a lot of work, and it’s very much in the same spirit as growing and maintaining a Twitter audience. Blending successful content from Instagram (which is a large portion of one’s Threads userbase) and Twitter (a place where one has posted in this format before) may be the best route forward.
Is Threads going to make it? Only time will tell, but with an estimated 117 million users and counting, it would be unwise to ignore it.