Instagram Threads has been active for just about three weeks now, after making a big splash when it launched on 6 July, hoping to be the next destination for users losing interest in Twitter.
It really did make an initial impact, growing to over 100 million users within the first week. This may not be surprising when you consider that Instagram has around 1.6 billion users and they’ve purposely made the product integration, from Instagram to Threads, easily accessible.
Combined with declines in ad revenue on Twitter, caused by advertisers leaving the platform, the natural step for Threads will be to monetise and capitalise on this. To do that effectively, they need a consistent and growing user base to keep the platform attractive to advertisers. With Twitter looking to rebrand to just ‘X’, they may be looking for a fresh start.
This is where the problem lies, as there has been a significant drop in users engaging with the platform since this launch period.
So, what has caused this decline? The biggest gripe is based around users being unable to view the content they expect from those they follow, with the feed algorithm showing posts from accounts they do not follow as well as a lack of any chronological filtering. Reports of spam replies within the comments also don’t help gain user trust in the platform, although Twitter has a fair amount of this too.
The key factor of an ad on a social platform is that it needs to be ‘thumb-stopping’ – no one on Instagram, Twitter or any other social platform is actively looking for your brand, so you need to give them a reason to stop and pay attention. That presents two issues in the case of Threads if it gets monetised in its current state:
- If the content isn’t personalised and therefore engaging to them, users will stop scrolling. That means less time spent on the app and less likely for your ads to show. TikTok is the reigning champion of getting users to spend time in-app, clocking in at an average of 55 minutes, per day.
Twitter is still higher than Instagram in this metric too, at 34 minutes vs 30 minutes. Threads therefore will have some significant work to do in terms of getting users to stay on the platform.*
- Twitter has had controversy in the past around the content ads have appeared next to, causing enough negative PR that many advertisers withdrew from the ad platform even before Elon Musk took it over. Threads has the potential to face a similar issue for advertisers, though launching in July allows time for Meta to iron out the kinks before the holiday period, which would be more attractive to potential advertisers.
We can still expect user numbers of Threads to grow however, it still hasn’t launched in Europe yet due to regulatory concerns and how the app will use personal data. We’d also expect to see updates roll out to address some of these initial issues, so it is far too early to write Threads off.