Meta-owned Threads sees dip in user engagement; brands, creators have different views on its future


PTI, Jul 24, 2023, 9:18 AM IST

When Meta launched Threads, it was billed as a ‘Twitter-killer’ as 100 million signed up within days of launch. But just like other rivals to Twitter, Threads seems to be losing traction.

New data apps tracking firm Sensor Tower indicates the hype has died down and Threads has seen a 20 per cent decrease in active users and a 50 per cent reduction in time spent on the app, from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.

Twitter had seen about a 5 per cent decrease in traffic right after Threads’ launch earlier this month.

Threads isn’t the only Twitter alternative to gain and lose traction. Mastodon saw millions of signups immediately after Elon Musk bought Twitter in a $44-billion deal. But since late last year, Mastodon has failed to keep users’ interest.

Bluesky, backed by Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey, has also piqued some interest but hasn’t really caught up.

Twitter has built its reputation around live breaking news, making it the go-to platform for millions during events — political or entertainment. In contrast, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram and Threads, has said on many occasions that Threads has no plan to bolster news and political content.

Also, Twitter allows users to operate anonymously, something that is not possible on Threads due to its direct integration with Instagram. A significant portion of Twitter users remains anonymous, and Threads missed out on this segment of daily active users.

According to app intelligence firm data.ai, Threads had most downloads coming from India (33 per cent), followed by Brazil (22 per cent) and the US (16 per cent).

But everyone is not writing Threads off. Brands and creators maintain a wait-and-watch stance while content creators feel the app has nothing new to offer, and will probably not work.

Co-founder and COO of SUGAR Cosmetics Kaushik Mukherjee said that the brand has leveraged Threads to “deliver fun, witty content”.

“Initially we witnessed a remarkable surge in user adoption and our team actively participated in this trend.”

Acknowledging the user dip on the platform, the company is planning to revitalise engagement. “… some users seemed to disengage over time. However, we are determined to address this challenge proactively considering the format is still at a very nascent stage,” he added.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of fintech major Paytm, also shared a graph on Twitter showing the decline in user base for Meta Threads.

Group Co-founder of content-to-commerce company Good Glamm Group and CEO, Good Media Co, Priyanka Gill said that the company did observe a dip within two weeks of the platform launching, but since their Instagram user base is “already highly engaged”, they are using the platform for diversifying content and engaging with audiences in different formats.

“We are doing a couple of different experiments and analyzing data weekly to see what’s working and what’s not,” she added.

Fashion e-commerce platform Myntra launched the Rising Stars campaign for D2C brands on Threads.

“This involved a banter between… digital-first brands sharing their excitement of being on Myntra Rising Stars on Threads, thereby adding another layer of visibility among their digital-savvy audience,” said Arun Devanathan, Senior Director for Social Commerce, Myntra.

According to Nikshubha Sharma, social media lead at Mamaearth owner Honasa, Threads has limited analytics and an ad-free environment.

“Comparing with Instagram, the user engagement seems average considering the difference in followers on both platforms. The status quo will not work on the platform as of now,” she added.

Jatan Bawa, founder of new-age oral care brand Perfora, pointed out that for every four hours their team spends on Instagram, they spend half an hour on Threads.

“Threads is at a nascent stage…while macro forces will determine traction, we don’t know if it may start picking up because a lot of (social media) is algorithm-based,” he added.

An app has to remain relevant to the brand ecosystem, like Clubhouse lost its charm, but if Mark Zuckerberg has launched an application (Meta) will ensure that it remains relevant, said Shreedha Singh, co-Founder and CEO of The Ayurveda Company.

There is an appetite for an alternate platform and there seems to be a good potential for winning on Threads with short-form conversations and content, said Anant Rastogi, Associate Director- Marketing at Zepto.

CEO and Founder of VAHDAM India Bala Sarda said that the brand is not using the platform for promotions as of now. “We’re trying to strike a chord with the millions of people who have joined Threads rather than directly promoting the brand,” he shared.

The current version of Threads will not work, opined entrepreneur and content creator Ankur Warikoo.

“Threads…made the cardinal mistake of making it easy for Instagram folks to move to Threads. In that moment, it ceased to become a new app, instead became an extension of an existing one…the intention wasn’t to build an IG extension – it was to build a Twitter challenger,” he said.

Content marketing coach Punita Parekh said she “loves Threads”, but the platform “will take time to reach the level of Twitter”.

“Threads and Twitter have the same concept but Twitter has been there for a while. Threads may turn out to be a text-based Instagram, but will take time to reach the level of Twitter,” she predicted.

YouTuber Dhruv Rathee said he does not immediately plan to leverage the platform unless its user base builds up.

“There is hardly anything unique being offered. I encountered a lot of bugs and basic functions were not working properly, so that also discouraged me from using it. If there’s a lot of user base developing in the future, I will consider posting on it,” he said.

Myron Shneider, social strategist for American logistics company Flock Freight, said that engaging with profiles and brands that have larger audiences while leveraging humour is working for him.

“I’ve been able to get responses from large brands such as Lyft, Papa John’s , Toys R Us, Kit Kat, and more,” he shared.

Many business owners are concerned about the significant drop in Threads engagement, from 19 minutes to just 4 minutes, said Amal Babu, founder of Bengaluru-based media and marketing agency BeyondAd.

“However, I believe that the numbers are likely to rebound and improve in the near future,” he added.

A recent report by digital advisory firm Kepios showed three Meta-owned apps Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in the top five most used apps.

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