Meta’s Threads social media app | Sources CNN

Mark Zuckerberg’s explosive Threads social media app, seen as a direct competitor to Elon Musk-owned Twitter, has lost up to 70% of its users from its July 7 peak. Users mainly from Instagram, Meta’s sensational photo and video sharing app flocked to Threads, thanks to a seamless signup process linking the two platforms.

Threads’ launch came at a time when Twitter had implemented a controversial rate limit to “detect and eliminate bots and other bad actors.” This (perfect) timing saw Meta dig into Twitter’s userbase, which had left many disgruntled, dropping by 5% in the first two days.

However, according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, people are abandoning Zuckerberg’s new social app as quickly as they had joined, with the dream of being a worthy Twitter sunsetting at an astronomical rate.

Meta’s Threads Down to 13 Million Active Users

Threads has recorded a user exodus for two weeks in a row, with the WSJ report implying that Meta must innovate quickly to roll out new features. Citing insights from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, WSJ reported a massive 70% decline in the number of active users to just 13 million.

In another report released early last week, SimilarWeb unveiled a startling slump in daily active users from 49 million to a mere 23.6 million within a week. Piecing together data from these accounts suggests a further 45% fall in active users over the last week.

Threads vs Twitter user data | SimilarWeb

Moreover, those still engaging on Threads are dedicating less time to the platform. Insights from Sensor Tower, as shared by WSJ, reveal the average time plunged from 19 minutes on iOS and 21 minutes on Android to a scant four and five minutes respectively.

Presently, Threads is primarily designed for mobile use, without support for a desktop app.

Twitter Users Steady at 200 Million

Although Meta had been building Threads for months, the need to take advantage of Twitter’s rate limits saw a half-baked product released into a competitive market.

“It felt like we had to get it out there to get a sense for if people were even interested sooner rather than later,” Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s CEO said via a post on the microblogging app.

While the initial response was a resounding success, with over 10 million people signing up on Threads in about seven hours and quickly exploding to more than 100 million five days later, Meta is struggling to keep users actively engaging on the platform.

Twitter, on the other hand, has seen its active userbase steady at 200 million, suggesting a short-lived Threads’ hype, with users reverting to the social apps they are used to.

Fortune in a related report confirmed that Meta and Zuckerberg were yet to react to the dismal numbers released by Sensor Terminal. However, the Meta CEO said early last week that he expected the numbers to stabilize over time, as the company improves the app.

“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. The focus for the rest of the year is improving the basics and retention, Zuckerberg said via Threads. “It’ll take time to stabilize, but once we nail that then we’ll focus on growing the community. We’ve run this playbook many times (FB, IG, Stories, Reels, etc) and I’m confident Threads is on a good path too.”

Meta has an uphill task to convince users to stay locked on Threads, which is missing many indispensable social media features such as hashtags synonymous with Twitter, a trending topics page to help people quickly find popular topics in the discord, and direct messages among others.

Threads user engagement | SimilarWeb

At the moment users on Threads have no way of scrolling for personalized posts from the people they follow, not to mention features as obvious as the ability to search specific posts or even edit their own feed.

“We’re clearly way out over our skis on this, but the team is pumped to start shipping improvements this week,” Mosseri continue in the post.

The team’s efforts to improve Threads and increase user engagement are already underway with Cameron Roth, an Instagram software engineer announcing various bug fixes in a post. In addition to the bug fixes, updates on the app’s feed and follow features have been rolled out.

Richard Hanna, a professor at Babson College who focuses on social-media studies, strategies, and digital marketing, told WSJ that there is a dire need to increase the scope of Thread as a microblogging platform, working toward replacing Twitter.

“It’s clear by the drop-off that people are seeing they can’t do as much, and there are certain things that they want to be able to do that perhaps they can do on other apps,” Hanna said.

Support for multiple accounts, and the ability for users to edit their posts in addition to a time-based feed, similar to the option on Instagram and Facebook are the other features the development team is working on pushing out over the next few weeks and toward the end of the year.

What’s The Way Forward?

Some app reviewers have expressed their dissatisfaction with Threads’ design outlook, saying that it needs to distinguish itself from Instagram to avoid seeming dull to the users. Remember, Meta capitalized on the latter’s 2 billion active userbase which implies that they may not appreciate a similar app outlook to what they already have.

Furthermore, users tend to be on multiple social media platforms, including Meta’s Facebook and Twitter. WSJ reckons that some users may not post on Threads as much as they do on a mature social app like Twitter.

Brands flocking Threads is another factor contributing to the user exodus, who do not appreciate their prevalence.

Despite Threads’ launch as a Twitter rival, Meta has maintained that it has plans to continue differentiating itself from the Elon Musk-run microblogging platform. Some analysts like Debra Aho Williamson from Insider Intelligence believe “Meta definitely has the patience, they have the money, and they have the engineering talent.”

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