Aiming for the post-X throne? More about Threads, the new social media platform
First, let's briefly review the overview of Threads. Threads is a new social media platform announced by Meta on July 6, 2023. Its basic functions and usability are similar to those of X. There have been several services that have emerged that could have potentially replaced X, which has been losing its users, but Threads stands out among them because it is operated by a major company like Meta.
This article introduces candidates, excluding Threads, that are in line to become the alternatives for X and the data regarding their usage.
First of all, the great thing about Threads is the high degree of freedom in posting. In the case of X, the text that can be posted is limited to 140 characters or less, the video is limited to 2 minutes and 20 seconds, and the number of images is limited to 4. With Threads, you can post up to 500 characters, videos up to 5 minutes, and up to 10 images.
On the other hand, there are some features that are lacking compared to X. For example, Threads does not have a "trend search" like X or a "hashtag function" that allows you to search for certain terms. When searching for posts, people who are used to using X may find it inconvenient. (As of August 15, 2023)
Although Threads is still in the early stages of implementation, Meta has announced that it will add features to improve its usability in the future. For example, on July 25th, they changed the settings so that the posts that can be viewed in the timeline function includes posts of those users you follow. Originally, the timeline was overflowing with posts from people other than the user’s acquaintances, and there were many complaints from users, this is most likely to be a welcomed change.
Other points that users are currently dissatisfied with may be gradually improved. Stay tuned for new features.
Is it possible to surpass X depending on the traffic from Instagram?
By linking Threads with Instagram, you can easily complete the initial registration. You can use your information on Instagram for your Threads profile, so if you already have an Instagram account, you can complete account registration in one minute.
In addition to your profile, you can also carry over the users you already follow on Instagram. When you start on a new social media platform, it often takes time to exchange accounts again with friends you followed on other apps, but with Threads, you can start using it smoothly by registering through Instagram.
If many Instagram users also register for a Threads account, we can expect the number of users to exceed X. In Japan, X has a larger number of users, with 45 million users and Instagram has 33 million users. For this reason, it may be difficult to envision, but in reality, Instagram is used by far more people worldwide.
Looking at the number of monthly active users of the world's major social media platforms (as of January 2022) published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the number of users of X (written “Twitter” in the table) is 436 million, while there are approximately 1.5 billion Instagram users.
Material from Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications translated by VALUES
This means that if about 30% of Instagram users decided to use Threads, it will reach the same number of X users. Considering the scale of Instagram, Threads becoming bigger than X is not just a dream if it can appeal to Instagram users.
Threads’ user base is different from other X-alternative social media platforms
From here, we will explore the personalities of Threads users. How are Threads user demographics different compared to X, Instagram, and other potential X alternatives? For this analysis, we will use VALUES' online behavioral analytics tool “Dockpit,” which allows you to analyze competitors’ websites and investigate trends using behavioral data that is updated monthly, all within your browser.
First, let's check the usage of each app. The graph below shows the percentage of users of Threads, Mastodon, and Misskey, which are rumored to be candidates for the post-X era, also using each of the other apps in combination.
Threads users not only use Instagram, also a service under Meta, at a high rate but around 90% of Thread users also use X. On the contrary, we can see that the rate of combined usage of Mastodon and Misskey is low.
On the other hand, looking at the combined usage rate for Mastodon and Misskey, the combined usage rate for Threads and other apps was over 20%, and the usage rate for X was over 97%, which was higher than that of Instagram. Compared to Threads users, Mastodon and Misskey users are thought to be more likely to actively search for other services to replace X.
Threads, Mastodon, Misskey combined usage rate with other apps as seen by users
Period: July 2023
Although Threads users don't have the strong desire to explore other social media platforms like Mastodon or Misskey users do, I think there are many cases where people who used both Instagram and X decided to start using it with a light interest.
Next, we will also compare the user attributes for each app.
The graph below shows the gender ratio of users of Threads, Instagram, X, Mastodon, and Misskey. The male-to-female ratio of Threads users is approximately 50/50, and the gender attributes of Threads users are similar to that of X and Mastodon than to Instagram.
Gender ratio of Threads, Instagram, X, Mastodon, and Misskey
Period: July 2023
Similarly, let's look at the age group ratio of users across each app.
Instagram and X have a distribution similar to that of all Internet users, whereas apps such as Mastodon and Misskey, which have recently gained attention, seem to be used mainly by young people who are sensitive to trends. Meanwhile, Threads is used by a wide range of people, although the percentage of users in their 20s is higher than Instagram or X.
Threads can be easily registered through Instagram, so the barrier to get started may be lower than other alternative services.
Age group of Threads, Instagram, X, Mastodon, and Misskey users
Period: July 2023
So far, we have found that among the alternative services of X, Threads users may have less of a desire to search for alternative services than Mastodon and Misskey users, and that their user attributes are similar to X.
So, are there any differences in the characteristics of Threads and X users?
Threads offers a great opportunity for influencers⁉
What kind of people are already using Threads? Let’s look into this further.
Influencers such as celebrities are likely to be the first to actively use Threads. As mentioned earlier, Threads has an established traffic route from Instagram, and it can be said that it has high potential as a new social media platform for influencers. If a time comes when everyone uses Threads in the future, the first-mover advantage, that influencers who have cultivated and strengthened their accounts from the beginning, will gain is immeasurable.
In fact, competition to gain followers on Threads has already begun among influencers. For example, Zach King, a very popular social media influencer, has 1.8 million followers on Threads. Singer Olivia Rodrigo has 8.5 million followers and comedian Jimmy Fallon also boast 1.8 million followers. (As of September 14, 2023)
Celebrities are not the only ones who want to increase their global influence by joining Threads. There are also many companies are using Threads as part of their marketing and PR strategies. For example, Uniqlo uses its Threads account to introduce new products, bargains, and recommended outfits. Netflix also posts information on new shows on Threads, gaining over 70,000 followers. (As of August 15, 2023)
While Instagram is an image-based social media, Threads is a text-based social media, making Instagram a great environment to approach users who are looking for more detailed information. Also, as mentioned earlier, Threads allows you to post more characters and videos than X, so you can send more detailed information.
If you get started early with Threads, still a relatively new platform, you may be able to increase your ability to communicate more efficiently than using other social media platforms.
On the other hand, if you don't have a strong motivation to actively increase your number of followers, there are many who are waiting and seeing. People in this group may start using Threads more often in the future in order to view posts from influencers they support or information they are interested in.
In addition, the low level of anonymity of Threads may be behind this increase in activity. Since Threads is registered using an Instagram account, it is relatively easy to identify individuals by account. The low level of anonymity has the effect of preventing easy slander and defamation, making it an easier environment for influencers to operate.
However, low anonymity is not only an advantage. On X, there is a certain number of people who enjoy free speech using anonymous accounts, so-called secret accounts. Because it is anonymous, it is possible to fulfill the desire to “talk honestly without worrying about what others think” or to “connect with people who have niche hobbies that they would be a little embarrassed to share with their friends.”
It is difficult for Threads to meet this kind of behind-the-scenes demand, and in this respect, it cannot be said that it can completely replace X. Is Thread’s low level of anonymity a good thing or a bad thing?
The number of users has already decreased by 80%. What's next for Threads?
Threads became a hot topic when it exceeded 100 million downloads in just five days after its launch, but how has the number of users changed since then? According to an article by the American news website CNN, the number of active Threads users has actually decreased 80% since its peak.
The day after Threads was released, it had around 44 million active users. However, after peaking at this point, according to a survey on July 31st, the number had dropped by 82% to about 8 million people.
Additionally, not only is the number of active users decreasing but the amount of time spent on the platform is also decreasing. According to the same article, on its release day, the average time spent per user was 19 minutes, but as of August 1st, this had fallen to just 2.9 minutes. At first, many registered an account out of curiosity, but after actually using it, more and more people are refraining from using it because eventually, its inadequate functionality becomes clear.
Click here for the original article on CNN
Meta, on the other hand, is optimistic. At Meta's financial results conference held on July 26, CEO Mark Zuckerberg made statements to the effect of “Threads has become more popular than expected'' and “Going forward, we will focus on building the foundation and improving retention rates.''
In addition, Meta has announced that it will connect to Fediverse in the future. Fediverse refers to the networked world and its concept, which is a collection of distributed social networking sites. If Threads connects to Fediverse, it will be able to interact with other social networks such as Mastodon, and it may establish itself as a completely new area of social networks rather than focusing on becoming an alternative to X.
Meta plans to add various functions in the future, but will these updates be able to keep users' hearts connected? Now that Threads has lost its instant buzz, the true value that Threads can provide is being questioned.
This time, we analyzed what kind of people are using the popular Threads social media platform. In summary, we found the following:
・ Unlike Mastodon and Misskey, Threads is likely to have fewer users actively looking for an alternative service to X and is used by a wider age group.
・Celebrities and companies aiming for first-mover advantage on Threads are thought to have started using it early on as early adopters.
・As of July 2023, the number of active Threads users has fallen to around 20% of the number of users it had at its peak.
Threads seems to be losing the momentum it had at the time of its release, but depending on Meta's future strategy, if users become established, there may be a big opportunity for companies that have the foresight to grow their accounts.
Will the number of users continue to decline, or will it surpass X as a new generation of social media? We will continue to keep an eye on the trends of Threads, which has reached a critical moment.
▼Data from Dockpit was used in this case study. Dockpit is an online behavior analytics tool provided by VALUES, Inc., and it allows you to access online behavioral data (updated monthly) via your browser so you can research competitor websites and investigate trends. There is a FREE version of Dockpit, so if you are interested in using it, please register below.