Threads which is the Twitter-like app from Mark Zuckerberg’s Instagram continues to break one record after the other and after hitting 100 million users in just five days, it has become the fastest app ever to have 150 million downloads.
It took Threads just a week to reach 150 million downloads which is 5.5 times faster than Niantic’s Pokémon Go. Notably, while ChatGPT has been making waves globally it took around 2 months to reach 100 million downloads.
The growth in Threads is driven by multiple factors. Firstly, many Twitter users have been irked by how Elon Musk has managed Twitter since he acquired the company.
Multiple reports suggest a rise in hate speech on Twitter. Musk however countered the argument and in a BBC interview earlier this year he said that hate speech hasn’t increased on the platform since his acquisition.
His restoration of several banned accounts – including that of former US President Donald Trump had also not gone well with a section of users.
The diktat on the number of tweets users can read was also a flashpoint between Musk and many Twitter users.
Also, the sign app process for Threads is quite simple and users can simply log in with their Instagram credentials which means it has a captive market of over 2.3 billion users.
Twitter’s Popularity Has Come Down
According to the Morning Consult survey, Twitter’s net favourability is falling among users. Many advertisers have also deserted Twitter, and Musk recently tweeted that the social media company’s revenues are down in half while it is posting cash losses.
We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load. Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2023
Previously Musk said that Twitter is on track to hit $3 billion in revenues this year – which is 41% lower than the $5.1 billion revenues that it hit in 2021, the last full year before he took it private.
Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino is working towards bringing back advertisers on the platform and called upon the company’s sales team to get ready for “hand-to-hand combat” – which means meeting big brands in person to persuade them to advertise on Twitter.
Twitter’s popularity among advertisers pales in front of Meta. According to the “Digital 2023 April Global Statshot,” 21.5% of working professionals aged between 16 to 64 said that their company uses Facebook for social media marketing.
Twitter’s advertising reach has also fallen over the last six months and according to Datareportal, its reach was 373 million in April, down from 556 million in January.
Threads User Base is Around a Fifth of Twitter Users
According to Data.ai, Threads is now nearing 100 million active users which is around a fifth of Twitter’s weekly active users (WAUs). In contrast, former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social only had 1 million WAUs.
Currently, Threads is not available in the EU as Meta Platforms has been at loggerheads with the region’s privacy regulators.
Meta Platforms has a chequered history with regulators in the EU and earlier this year, the European Commission fined the company $1.3 billion and asked it to stop shipping users’ data to the US.
It was the biggest fine that the Commission ever imposed and over 50% higher than the $806 million fine on Amazon in 2021.
Meanwhile, so far, India is the biggest market for Threads accounting for a third of its total global downloads. Brazil comes second with 22% while the US accounted for 16%. Mexico and Japan are the fourth and fifth markets respectively with shares of 8% and 5%.
The data might sound intriguing as in terms of total users, the US is the biggest market for Twitter while India comes a distant third. However, it’s a different story for Meta Platforms and India is the biggest market not only for Instagram but also Facebook and WhatsApp.
According to Statista, India had almost 230 million Instagram users in January 2023, which is around 50% higher than the app’s users in the US.
Threads Could Help Meta Platforms Increase Its Revenues
Last year, Meta Platforms battled the worst slowdown in its history and its revenues fell YoY for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, Meta Platforms has shown signs of a turnaround and after reporting a yearly fall in revenues for three straight quarters, it reported a 2.6% rise in its Q1 2023 revenues.
However, the company’s growth has nearly plateaued – especially in the developed markets. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg also acknowledged the same last year.
With Threads, Meta Platforms might look to increase its sagging growth even as Zuckerburg believes that the company’s metaverse investments would drive its long-term growth. The company hasn’t yet started monetizing the platform but it should happen in due course.
All said, while Threads has been a roaring success in terms of initial users, it needs to keep up the momentum as reports suggest that engagement numbers on the platform are down sharply from the initial highs.
Anthony Bartolacci, managing director at Sensor Tower, a marketing intelligence firm, told CNBC, “These early returns signal that despite the hoopla during its launch, it will still be an uphill climb for Threads to carve out space in most users’ social network routine.”
Engagement Numbers on Thread Have Come Down
Bartolacci added, “The backing of Meta and the integration with Instagram likely gives Threads a much higher flood than other services, but it will need a more compelling value proposition than simply ‘Twitter, but without Elon Musk.”
According to Eric Seufert, an independent mobile analyst who closely watches Meta’s apps, “If you launch a gimmick app or something that isn’t fully featured quite yet, it might be counterproductive and you could see a lot of people churn right back out the door.”
Musk and Zuckerburg have anyways been at loggerheads for quite some time and the fault lines have only deepened with the launch of Threads.
Also, Threads might increase Meta’s regulatory troubles as US regulators have anyways looked at the company with suspicion and were looking to break up the company.
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