Is Threads losing steam? [New Research]

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Threads, Instagram’s text-based conversation app, launched in July 2023 and reached 100 million active users within ten days.

It grew five times faster than ChatGPT, the previous record holder for the fastest-growing app. Its initial spike in popularity reportedly caused a drop in Twitter’s (now X) traffic—it was an exciting app for consumers to try out amidst X’s growing controversies.

Despite its initial success, will Threads meet the same fate as many other young social media platforms?

Download Now: The 2023 State of Social Media Trends [Free Report]

Is Threads losing steam?

SimilarWeb reported that Threads usage was down 79%, and time spent on the app was down 89% just one-month post-launch.

While U.S. users once spent 21 minutes on the app per day, it dropped to three minutes by August 7th. What’s more, the user base fell by more than half since launch.

graph displaying how threads user base fell between july and august 2023

Image Source

This data does show that Threads’ initial surge has certainly died down. Consumer perspective is important, though, before calling Threads a passing fad. In September, we surveyed social media users across the U.S. to get their take on the app and the future it might have.

First, it’s interesting to know how Threads users would describe the platform, and most respondents would use the words “new, innovative, and disruptive.” This sentiment tracks, as Threads certainly was disruptive in its infancy, so much so that it took traffic away from a mature and established platform.

pie chart displaying the top five words consumers use to describe threads

To get an initial reading, we asked consumers what social media platforms they’ve spent an hour or more on since July. 21% said they’d spent an hour or more on Threads, outshined by Twitter, Reddit, and Tumblr. This differs from SimilarWeb’s data, which says U.S. users spent no more than 3 minutes on the app after August.

bar graph displaying the social media apps consumers have used for more than one hour since july 2023

Most respondents (24%) also said they spent the same amount of time on the app in August as they did in July. 21% said they substantially increased the time they spent on Threads.

usage july vs august

When comparing Threads usage to X usage, most consumers said they spent the same amount of time on X channel between July and August.

threads vs x usage

We also asked about their plans with Threads for the upcoming months, and most reported they will likely continue to use the platform the same amount as they do today. However, rounding up second place is 17% of respondents saying they will likely stop using the app entirely.

next 3 months plans

The verdict? Threads did lose its initial hype.

The data shows that, yes, Threads lost its initial post-launch hype. This doesn’t mean it’s dead or dying, though, as data shows consumers still seem to remain interested in the platform. Moreover, only 7% of respondents would use the word “dead” to describe the app (same rating was given to X).

negative words

What is true is that consumers may need more of a reason to stay on the app long-term. 24% still say it was boring and/or unengaging (just one percentage point less than the more positive sentiment of new, innovative, and disruptive).

Key Takeaways for Marketers

Threads is young, so predicting usage in a year, even six months, is hard. The drop in excitement is evident, but interest is still there, so businesses on the platform will likely have to work hard to capture and maintain interest before it’s too late.

Meta has significant reach, and, as a Meta product, it’s unlikely that Threads will fail. It might be given new features and capabilities that re-engage bored users and bring people back. I would encourage marketers to be experimental because the strategies you’d use on established platforms like Facebook are not guaranteed to work.

Keep your eye on the app and how consumers interact with your content—generally observe and see what happens. If it shows no signs of going away, your observations and tests will keep you well-prepared for the future.

After all, people once said TikTok would never last, but look at where it is now.

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