Threads, the text-based social media platform from Meta that was released as a direct competitor to Twitter, experienced an initial surge in sign-ups, hitting 100 million users in the first five days of its launch. However, user engagement has been steadily declining, and the app hasn’t sustained momentum from the initial boom.
According to data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, per The Wall Street Journal, the number of daily active users on Threads has declined for two weeks in a row and now teeters around 13 million — a striking 70% drop from the peak on July 7. Additionally, the average time users spend on the iOS and Android app has decreased to a mere four minutes, down from 19 minutes.
In contrast, Twitter’s daily active users remain steady at around 200 million, who spend an average of 30 minutes a day on the platform, according to Sensor Tower.
The decline in user engagement could be attributed to the slew of features — including direct messaging and the ability to search topics and tags — that Threads currently doesn’t have.
“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,” Richard Hanna, a professor at Babson College specializing in social media strategy and digital marketing told the WSJ.
Another aspect of Threads’ low level of engagement could be the lack of monetization options for creators. Other platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Twitter give creators opportunities to generate revenue through brand partnerships and advertisements — a fundamental aspect of content creation that Threads currently lacks.
“Threads is the really good looking new kid in class that everyone wants to talk to,” Casper Lee, a YouTuber with more than 6.6 million subscribers, told CNBC. “Then over the next few weeks they got to work out whether there’s anything more to them.”
Furthermore, Threads’ algorithm-based feed and the inability to search topics and hop on trends can feel disorganized, which can be disorienting for some users.
“That’s a big thing that’s on Twitter, that’s on TikTok and YouTube, that you can jump on a topic, trend and you can get loads of people following you and consuming your content,” Lee added.
Still, Meta executives have maintained that the company is prepared for a slow growth period.
Last week, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri wrote on Threads: “Our focus right now is not engagement, which has been amazing, but getting past the initial peak and trough we see with every new product, and building new features, dialing in performance, and improving ranking.”
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been active on the app, voicing his hopes for its slow but steady progress. “The focus for the rest of the year is improving the basics and retention. It’ll take time to stabilize, but once we nail that then we’ll focus on growing the community,” the CEO wrote in a Threads post on Monday.