What happened to the top trend of 2023? How will it evolve in 2024? [Threads]

What happened to the top trend of 2023? How will it evolve in 2024? [Threads]

Meta launched Threads in July 2023 as a potential X (formerly Twitter) successor, but interest waned. However, user numbers are rising, possibly due to traffic from Instagram, showing a resurgence. We'll examine its usage trends in January 2024 and predict the future of Threads.


Reviewing Threads’ trends at the time of release

Threads is a new social media platform announced by Meta on July 6, 2023, and it became a hot topic as it exceeded 100 million users after its first five days. The basic functions of Threads are very similar to X, such as “posting short texts and images,” “reposting other users' posts,” and “reacting to posts with likes and comments.” At the time, X was losing users due to a series of specification changes, and there were expectations that Threads would become a competitor and a potential replacement for X.

However, when we actually look into it, Threads at that time did not have the “trend search function” and “hashtag function” that are frequently used in X, and for those who are used to using X, it may have been inferior in terms of usability. In addition, there were reports that usability was not well-thought-out, and at one point, the number of active users fell 10% to 20% from its peak.

The following article provides detailed information about Threads usage trends in the early stages of launching its service.

What kind of people use Threads? Will it be the alternative to Twitter?

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/2758

On July 6, 2023, Meta announced its new social media platform Threads, and it had over 100 million users in just five days after its release, becoming a potential candidate for replacing X (formerly Twitter). We will be analyzing the personalities of Threads users and predict future trends.

Has Threads been gradually growing inconspicuously?

In the end, the momentum of Threads was not enough to replace X, and the public's interest seemed to gradually fade away. However, contrary to such public interest, the number of users of Threads is steadily increasing. Let's actually look at the data. For 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 trends in the users’ interest regarding Threads by looking at the trends in the number of people searching. The graph below shows the changes in the number of people who searched for “Threads" or “スレッズ (‘Threads)’ written in Japanese)” on the web. It can be seen that although Threads was being searched in July 2023 when it was released, the number of people searching from the following month onwards has remained at about 10% of the number of people searching at its peak. It seems that the interest in Threads was a momentary trend.

Trends in the number of people searching for “Threads” or “スレッズ (‘Threads’ in Japanese)”
Period: January - December 2023
Devices: PC and smartphone

Next, let's take a look at the trends in the number of Threads app users. The graph shows that although the number of Threads users decreased in August, it has been on the rise since September. Although it would be assumed that “if the public's interest is waning, the number of users will decrease, or at least stagnate,” Threads seems to be steadily acquiring users.

The trend-conscious demographic that downloaded Threads early in its release may have lost its momentum. However, it may be that this increase in the number of users has been caused by the entry of the majority segment, who may not have a strong motivation or interest, but try it out thinking, “There are more people around me who are using Threads, so I might as well try it out.”

Trends in the number of “Threads” users
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Another major strength of Threads is that it has large inflow from Instagram. By linking Threads with your Instagram account, you can easily open an account.
Furthermore, recently, just by using Instagram, users are shown recommended posts on Threads and notified of Threads posts posted by users they follow on Instagram, and people are becoming more and more aware of the route from Instagram to Threads. Even if there is no clear motivation to use Threads in the future, the number of Threads users may continue to increase due to the increase in traffic from Instagram.

According to a report by Sensor Tower, an American data analysis company, Threads has around 150 million users worldwide (as of December 2023). On the other hand, X's current CEO Linda Yaccarino, at "Code Conference 2023," said that there are about 200 million to 250 million active users on X.

Threads' Global Journey: Triumphs and Challenges

https://sensortower.com/blog/threads-global-journey-triumphs-and-challenges

Discover the latest app trends. Explore insights into the global app market. Stay informed and embrace these trends shaping the app landscape.

Code 2023

https://www.theverge.com/code-2023

The Code Conference brings together key leaders from the tech and business worlds to talk about what comes next. The 2023 conference features X CEO Linda Yaccarino, GM CEO Mary Barra, and more.

Although the number of Threads users is increasing, it cannot yet be considered a sufficient replacement for X. The key to winning the battle for supremacy may be how they attract potential users who already have an Instagram account.

Let's take a closer look at the usage trends of Threads users. The graph below shows the average number of days per month the Threads app is launched. This peaked in July, decreased leading into September, and then gradually increased. Initially, a portion of users used it frequently, but with the entry of the majority segment, the number of “light usage” users has increased, and it is thought that the frequency of use has calmed down on average. Nevertheless, as it has become more popular and the number of posts by people they know increasing, and the frequency of use by light users may be increasing little by little.

“Threads” Average number of days per month the app is launched
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Is the share of Threads not as high as that of major social media platforms?

Next, we will compare Threads with other social media platforms and dig deeper into the characteristics of Threads users. First, we will compare four major social media apps: Instagram, TikTok, X, and Facebook.

First, let's check the current power structure of social media based on the number of users. Instagram and X were particularly large. The number of Threads users is approaching more than half of X's worldwide, but according to the current Japanese data, it only accounts for 15% of X users. In Japan, Threads seems to be still small compared to other major social media.

Trends in the number “Threads,” “Instagram,” “TikTok,” “X,” and “Facebook” users
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

We will also compare the frequency of use. The graph below shows the average number of days per month the app is launched for each social media app. X users use the app about once every two days, while Threads users seem to use it about once every four days. Furthermore, compared to other apps, Threads was the least frequently used. Both Threads’ number of users and the frequency of are lower than other social media platforms, and it seems that it is still nowhere near joining the ranks of social media with top shares.

Trends in the average number of days per month the app is launched for “Threads,” “Instagram,” “TikTok,” “X,” and “Facebook”
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Next, we will look at the differences in user segments. Regarding the gender ratio, the ratio of men to women was about 50-50 for all social media platforms. However, Instagram has a relatively high proportion of women, and perhaps because of this, Threads users also have a slightly higher proportion of women.

“Threads,” “Instagram,” “TikTok,” “X,” and “Facebook” users by gender
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Let's also look at the differences in age groups. According to the graph, only Facebook is used more by people in their 40s to 60s, but generally, people in their 20s to 40s use social media. Among them, Threads has a particularly high percentage of people in their 20s, and it is thought to be mainly used by trend-conscious people. On the other hand, Instagram, which is a major social media platform, is used by a wide range of age groups. If Threads becomes more popular among Instagram users in their 30s and above, who are potential Threads users, the scale of Threads may change.

“Threads,” “Instagram,” “TikTok,” “X,” and “Facebook” users by age group
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Finally, as a comparison with major social media platforms, let's also look at the usage status of each social media. As mentioned earlier, traffic from Instagram is the key for Threads to expand its scale, but only 13.3% of Instagram users currently also use Threads. On the other hand, more than 70% of Instagram users also use X. In order to increase Threads' share, it may be necessary to highlight the differences in functionality that will make people who are already familiar with X want to use Threads.

Usage status of other apps as seen from “Instagram” users
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Will Threads become a promising star for emerging social media platforms?

In the past, Manamina has introduced "Mastodon,” “Bluesky,” and “Misskey” as social media platforms, outside of Threads, that are candidates to replace X. What is Threads' position among these emerging social media platforms? Let's make a similar comparison.

See the article below for alternative apps that are candidates for replacing X.

Which service will replace Twitter? Distributed social network services are attracting attention

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/2601

On July 1, 2023, Twitter imposed temporary API restrictions limiting the daily number of tweets that can be viewed. In response to Twitter’s changes, people are searching for alternatives to switch to. We researched the services that may replace Twitter, the user profiles, and the current switches happening.

Let's start by comparing the number of users. If you look at the trends in the number of users for each app, you can see that Threads has the most by far. Among the emerging social media platforms that have been picked up as candidates to replace X, Threads seems to be ahead of the pack. Compared to other emerging social media platforms, Threads has been covered a lot in the media and is probably well-known. This difference is due to the fact that Mastodon, Bluesky, and Misskey are used by a certain segment of the population who are proactively searching for new social media platforms on their own, while Threads is also used by those who are not as actively researching, and this is why Threads has far more users.

Trends in the number of “Threads,” “Mastodon,” “Bluesky,” and “Misskey” users
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

If you take a closer look at the trends in the number of users, excluding Threads, you will see that all of the social media platforms are growing in July 2023. At this time, the trend of users leaving X was a hot topic, so it is thought that people were actively searching for alternative apps. However, unlike Threads, there seem to be few users who have stuck. However, regarding Bluesky, the number of users has skyrocketed, probably due to the UI and settings screen being made compatible with Japanese in December (posting in Japanese was already possible).

Trends in the number “Threads,” “Mastodon,” “Bluesky,” and “Misskey” users
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

Let's take a closer look at user demographics. If you check the users by age for each app, you will see that most of the apps are used by people in their 20s to 30s. Meanwhile, among the major social media platforms mentioned earlier, Threads had the highest proportion of people in their 20s among the major social media platforms, but compared to other emerging social media platforms, the proportion of people in their 20s was actually the lowest. Mastodon, Bluesky, and especially Misskey may be used by many young people who are eager to try new things. On the other hand, it can be said that Threads functions as an app for the masses among the emerging platforms.

“Threads,” “Mastodon,” “Bluesky,” and “Misskey” users by age group
Period: January - December 2023
Device: Smartphone

As we have seen so far, Threads is still underdeveloped compared to major social media platforms, but it seems to be the closest to being a candidate to replace X. As of January 2024, Threads probably take an intermediate position between major platforms and emerging platforms.

Will the number of Threads users increase in 2024?

So far, we have looked at the usage trends of Threads and compared them with other social media platforms. Finally, we will introduce some information that may be helpful in predicting trends in Threads in 2024.

First, let’s address some current events. On November 20, 2023, President Biden of the United States opened a Threads account and began posting. Threads will be used as a platform to promote policies, and may increase its presence as a place for disseminating opinions.

Another notable event is that Threads launched in Europe on December 14, 2023. In the past, there were many cases in Europe where American technology services were regulated from the perspective of protecting privacy and promoting competition. However, with the digital market law enacted by the EU in 2022, measures have been taken and the service has finally been launched in Europe. As it becomes more popular in Europe, it is thought that Threads' global influence will further increase.

Lastly, let's also compare the features of Threads and X as of January 2024. Although Threads was criticized for lacking functionality when it was first released, new features have been implemented one after another over the past six months. The biggest impact seems to be that search functionality has become more extensive. Previously, keyword searches in Threads were only compatible with English and Spanish, but with the update at the end of November 2023, keyword searches can now be performed in all languages of countries where Threads is available, including Japanese. Additionally, tagging functionality was introduced on December 7, 2023. If you have added tags to your posts, you can narrow down your search to topics with the corresponding tag by searching using “#.” With the improved search function, the impression that Threads is inferior to X in terms of functionality may be dispelled.

Threads is starting to fill in the gaps with new features. On the other hand, what are the differences between the current functionalities of Threads and X? A typical feature that Threads lacks compared to X is the trends function. Threads only provides customized recommendations based on your browsing history, so if you want to easily grasp what's trending around the world, X is the winner for now.

On the other hand, Threads has some advantages over X. For example, X will start a new subscription service from October 27, 2023, and will charge a fee for posts over 140 characters and the ability to edit posts. These features are available for free with Threads. Another difference is that with X, you can add multiple tags to a single post, whereas in Threads you can only add one tag. This may feel inconvenient in some cases, but in X, some users attach multiple unrelated tags to increase the number of views, so the tag limitation makes Threads an app for “searching specifically for what you want to know.” At first glance, it seems like Threads is trying to replace X, but in reality, each app has its strengths and weaknesses, and currently they coexist.

Furthermore, Threads plans to connect to "Fediverse" in the future. Fediverse is a word coined from combining the words “federation” and “universe,” and refers to “independent servers that communicate with each other and work together as if they were a single service.” In other words, once you are connected to Fediverse, you will be able to follow and view posts from other social media accounts such as Mastodon while logging into your Threads account. If this feature were implemented, it would not only create Threads' unique strength of linking with other social media platforms, but also encourage the use of emerging social media platforms such as Mastodon. With the implementation of Fediverse in the future, the power structure of social media platforms may change significantly.

Summary

We, once again, investigated usage trends for Threads, which has attracted attention in 2023. In summary, we found the following:

・The number of Threads users is thought to be on the rise due to the participation of the majority segment.
・Compared to the major social media platforms with the top share, Threads has many young users and is considered to be in the process of development.
・When only comparing emerging social media platforms, Threads can be said to be the most popular.
・Threads has also been adding more functions and has reached a level where it no longer is considered inferior to X in terms of functionality.
・Connection to Fediverse may bring major changes to the entire social media market.

There was some concern that Threads would be forgotten as a temporary fad, but in fact, it seems that both the number of users and the functionality are continuing to grow. On the other hand, it seems that there is still a long way to go before it becomes a social media platform on a par with X and Instagram. What will Threads look like in 2024? Stay tuned.

About Dockpit

▼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.

dockpit Get free version

※日本語での記事はこちらをご確認ください

2023年のトレンド、あの後どうなった?2024年はどうなる?【Threads編】

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/3107

Threads(スレッズ)とは、2023年7月にMeta社がリリースした新興SNSです。サービス開始当初こそX(旧Twitter)を代替する候補として注目を集めたものの、一時的なトレンドとして下火になった印象があるかもしれません。そんなThreadsですが、インスタからの流入促進効果もあってか、実はじわじわとユーザー数を伸ばしており、再加熱の兆しも見られています。そこで今回は、2024年1月時点で改めて利用動向を調査し、Threadsの今後を占います。

この記事のライター

Born and raised in the Bay Area, U.S.A, I was fascinated by the different social and purchasing behaviors between Japanese and American consumers. I studied communication for undergrad and international marketing for my graduate studies. My professional background is in bilingual recruitment and Japanese-English translation.

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