The number of next-gen social media “Bluesky” users is rapidly growing. Is it the newest trend among Gen Z?

The number of next-gen social media “Bluesky” users is rapidly growing. Is it the newest trend among Gen Z?

When X’s (formerly Twitter) specs changes, Bluesky was seen as a potentional alternative to X, but it struggled to gain traction. However, after removing its invite-only system on February 7, 2024, user numbers surged as anyone was now allowed to make an account. We'll examine user demographics and usage of Bluesky.


What is “Bluesky,” the popular new social media platform?

“Bluesky" is one of the social media platforms that some say may replace X. Jack Dorsey, one of the co-founders of X (formerly Twitter), was involved with Bluesky’s business, and among all the candidates considered to potentially replace X, the design and operations feel very similar to X.

One difference from X is that Bluesky uses a distributed social network service platform. A distributed social network service platform is a system in which anyone can freely open a server and operate it according to their own rules, rather than being operated by a specific company like X. By incorporating the mechanism of a distributed social network service, Bluesky allows users to choose what they want to see and what they do not want to see (content filtering) and solves problems such as misinformation and hate comments that X was not able to manage.

In particular, Bluesky has established a new mechanism for distributed social networking services called the AT protocol. The widespread use of the AT protocol will make it easier for different social media platforms to collaborate and interact, allowing them to establish new open networks (Bluesky calls this connection a federated social network).

Regarding AT protocol, this comic provided by Bluesky is easy to understand, so if you are interested, please check it out.

Another major difference with X is that Bluesky does not have ads displayed on their pages. Users can use the app comfortably because there are no ads and can just view the information they want to see.

Bluesky is a social media platform that was launched with the aim of giving more power and freedom to individual users and creating a safer and more transparent platform. This is reflected in the features mentioned above, and it can be said that Bluesky's greatest strength is that it allows users to send and obtain information comfortably, safely, and freely.

The number of heavy users is increasing?

With Bluesky being a social media platform that is considered a candidate for replacing X, it is often talked about in relation to the trends of X. Let's look at the changes in the degree of attention based on the actual data. For analysis, we use Dockpit, an online behavior analytics tool from VALUES that allows you to analyze competitors’ websites and research trends using behavioral data that is updated monthly, all within your browser.

First, let's check the changes in the degree of attention around Bluesky based on the trends in the number of people searching. The graph below shows the changes in the number of people who searched for “Bluesky (including spelling variations)" on the web. The number of people searching gradually increased from immediately after its release in January 2023 until April 2023, and after that, the number of people searching increased instantly in July and December.

It can be said that the reason for this is that in July 2023, X made major specifications changes, such as the establishment of a system that limits the number of posts, which led to an increase in the number of people looking for an alternative, and in December of the same year, Bluesky started allowing people to view posts on their platforms without having an account, increasing the support in Japan.

Changes in the number of people searching for “Bluesky”
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Devices: PC & smartphone

Next, let's look at the number of Bluesky users. Similar to the trends in the number of people searching, the number of users increased significantly in July and December 2023, and it can be seen that the trends in the number of people searching and the number of users are similar. On the other hand, there are some differences between the two indicators. Focusing on January 2024, the number of people searching dropped to nearly 30% of the previous month, but the number of users did not decline, but increased. While there was a temporary trend in July due to changes in X’s specifications, December may have had a high user retention rate because users are likely to be growing due to improvements in Bluesky’s functionality.

Changes in the number of Bluesky users
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

We will also dig deeper into Bluesky users. The graph below shows the average number of days the Bluesky app is opened per month. The graph shows that the number of days the app is opened increasing, but it decreased in July and December 2023. This is thought to be due to the rapid increase in the number of users during this period, which resulted in a large influx of light users, and therefore the frequency of use on average has stabilized. Considering the above, the average number of days the app is opened per month is steadily increasing, and judging from the frequency of use by users, it can be said that Bluesky is gaining momentum.

Bluesky’s average number of days the app is opened per month
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

As you can see from the three indicators, people searching Bluesky, number of users, and the average number of days the app is opened per month, Bluesky is steadily increasing its number of users, although it is influenced by momentary trends.

Not yet as good as major social media platforms

Bluesky has emerged as a new social media platform and potential alternative for X and is steadily gaining users, but is it in a position to aim to replace X? Next, we will compare users with other social media platforms and analyze Bluesky’s current position.

The number of users is significantly lower

First, let's start with a comparison with major social media platforms. We will compare with four platforms: X, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Let's compare the number of users for Bluesky and four other major social media platforms. If you look at the graph below, the scale of Bluesky is quite small compared to major platforms.

Changes in the number of Bluesky, X, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok users
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

It is becoming more and more of a fixture in daily life

Let's also compare the monthly average number of days the app is opened per month. The average number of days Bluesky's app is opened per month is lower than that of major social media platforms, but it is only about three days less than TikTok and Facebook. From this, it can be said that Bluesky has gradually become a fixture in the lives of existing users and is becoming closer and closer to becoming a major social media platform.

The average number of days the Bluesky, X, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok apps are opened per month
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

Strong performance among emerging social media platforms

Next, we will compare it with emerging social media platforms that are potential alternatives for X. We will be comparing with Threads, Misskey, and Mastodon.

First, let's look at the trends in the number of users. These four social media platforms started their services at a similar time, but Threads, which has a well-established traffic base from Instagram, has significantly increased the number of users and is outperforming other emerging social media platforms. Although there is a large gap between Bluesky and Threads, it has gained more users than Misskey and Mastodon since November 2023, and it can be said that it has plenty of potential in the future among the emerging social media platforms.

Changes in the number of Bluesky, Mastodon, Misskey, and Threads (excluding Threads) users
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

Although Bluesky seems to have a promising future among the emerging social media platforms that are potential alternatives for X, it will still take some time for it to reach the same level as major social media platforms in terms of the number of users. The reason for this may be the difficulty of registering an account. In contrast to Threads, which has a well-established traffic base from Instagram, Bluesky requires an invite code to create an account (the invite-only system was removed in February 2024) and is not available to everyone. Because of this, it can be said that the growth in the number of users of Bluesky is sluggish.

Strengths unique to Bluesky

There is a large difference between Bluesky and other major social media platforms when it comes to the number of users and frequency of use. So, is there an area where Bluesky is superior to major social media platforms? Next, we will dig deeper into users and investigate Bluesky’s unique strengths.

A large proportion of Generation Z

First, let's compare the percentage of users by age group with the major social media platforms. Looking at the graph below, in contrast to major social media platforms where the percentage of each age group is almost the same, you can see that the number of young Bluesky users in their 20s and 30s, who tend to be sensitive to trends, is very high, perhaps because it is a new social media platform. It is notable that nearly half of the respondents are in their 20s, which includes Generation Z.

Bluesky, X, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok users by age group
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

Many people are interested in subcultures

Next, we will investigate and compare the interests of each social media user. For analysis, we will use VALUES' analytics tool story bank (Japanese only), which uses online behavioral data and survey data to aggregate the movements and attributes of a specific target user's online behavior.

The graph below shows the interests and the level of interest among Bluesky users. The vertical axis represents the reach rate (the percentage of respondents who answered with that interest), and the horizontal axis represents the feature value (the reach rate of Bluesky users minus the reach rate of all Internet users).

Looking at the graph, you can see that the percentage of users who are interested in so-called subcultures such as games, videos such as YouTube, anime, manga, etc. is much higher than other items. Regarding subculture-related topics, there is a spike in popularity in the formation of communities, where young people, especially Generation Z, come together based on genre or having same hobbies. The high percentage of young people and the unique feature of Bluesky where users can just see what they want to see are compatible with the nature of the subculture, which tends to be made up of multiple small communities, so the percentage of users who are interested in this subculture may be high for Bluesky.

Bluesky user interests and level of interest (vertical axis: reach rate | horizontal axis: feature value)
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

We will also take a rough look at the interests among users of other major social media platforms. The graph below shows the interests and level of interest among X users. Although the level of interest in subcultures such as games and anime is high for X as well, when comparing with other topics of interest, the results show that the difference is not as big as it is for Bluesky. The graph is omitted here, but similar to X, the results show that the level of interest in subcultures is not extremely high on other major social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Since major social media platforms are used by a wide range of age groups, it is thought that the topics of interest are scattered in this way.

X user interests and level of interest (vertical axis: reach rate | horizontal axis: feature value)
Period: February 2023 - January 2024
Device: Smartphone

We will also look at the trends of the most-followed accounts on each social media platform in terms of user interests (we will omit Facebook as the latest ranking of the most-followed accounts have not been announced).

The figure below shows the ranking of the most-followed accounts in Japan as of February 20, 2024, as announced by User Local, Inc. Illustrators, VTubers, and game-related accounts dominate the rankings, including Nagano in 1st place and Shigure Ui in 2nd place. From this, it can be said that Bluesky users have a very high degree of interest in interests that would be considered subcultures.

Material from KAI-YOU translated by VALUES

We will also look at the ranking of the most-followed accounts on other major social media platforms. To summarize, X’s ranking has celebrity users that everyone knows, Instagram has (mainly K-POP) idols, actors, and models, and TikTok has so-called content creators at the top of the rankings.

Material from Ranking.net translated by VALUES
Ranking of most-followed TikTok accounts in Japan

Based on the results above, it can be said that Bluesky has a unique strength that other major social media platforms do not have. It has many young users who are interested in subcultures, and it is easy to form a community. The key to future growth will be based on how they can leverage this strength and acquire more users.

Why Bluesky is getting so much attention right now

As mentioned above, Bluesky is an innovative social media platform includes solutions to common issues while retaining X’s atmosphere, but currently, the number of users has been stagnant. However, the invite-only system for Bluesky was removed on February 7, 2024, and anyone can easily register an account, which has been helping to attract attention.

According to Bluesky, in the 24 hours since the invite-only system was removed, more than 850,000 people around the world have registered for Bluesky, and more than 2 million posts have been made. In addition, in the App Store rankings, even though it did not make the top 10 until the previous week, it has rapidly risen to number 1 (as of February 11, 2024), which shows the high level of attention around Bluesky.

Material from Bluesky translated by VALUES
Source: (From left to right)
https://x.com/bluesky/status/1755352957191885064?s=20
https://bsky.app/profile/sega.jp

In addition, many celebrities and official accounts in Japan, such as Nagano, the creator of Chiikawa, the Sega, and Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, are creating accounts and posting on Bluesky one after another, and Bluesky's social media activities are becoming more and more popular. It is expected that this will increase.

Material from Bluesky translated by VALUES
Source: (From left to right)
https://bsky.app/profile/ngntrtr.bsky.social
https://bsky.app/profile/sega.jp

Furthermore, Bluesky has announced that it will be equipped with new federated functions by the end of February. Federated functions allow users to host their own servers. This allows users to enjoy a wide range of global information while maintaining the structure of a distributed social networking service, safely expanding the range of user choices. In this way, Bluesky is expected to receive further updates in the future, and we can't take our eyes off its trends.

Summary

We investigated the characteristics and current position of the emerging social media platform Bluesky, which has recently become publicly available and has gained a lot of attention. In summary, we found the following:

・Bluesky is an emerging distributed social networking service that retains the same atmosphere of X (formerly Twitter), but can solve problems that X was unable to, such as managing hate content and misinformation.
・The popularity and number of Bluesky users is increasing due to updates and changes in X specifications.
・Bluesky still has not reached the same level as social media platforms that boast top market share.
・Bluesky users are mainly young people who are interested in subcultures, which is a strength that major social media platforms do not have.
・With the recent removal of the invite-only system, Bluesky has become a popular social media platform with a rapid increase in the number of users and official accounts.
・Several further updates are coming soon, so Bluesky is worth keeping an eye on.

Bluesky is the perfect social media platform in terms of its functionality, as it aims to give individual users a lot of authority and offer security and transparency. The invite-only system, which was considered to be the biggest bottleneck, has been removed, and now anyone can create an account, which has led to rapid growth. It still has a long way to go to be on par with X and other major social media platforms, but depending on future updates, it may become a threat to X. Let's continue to keep an eye on these trends.

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

次世代SNS「Bluesky」のユーザーが急増中?Z世代の新たなトレンドになるか

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/3204

「Bluesky」は、X(旧Twitter)からの乗り換え候補として注目を集めたSNSです。リリース当初やXの仕様変更の際には話題になったものの、Xを代替するほどの規模にはなっていませんでした。そんな「Bluesky」ですが、2024年2月7日、ユーザー獲得のネックになっていた招待制が廃止され、誰でもアカウント登録が可能になったことで、ユーザー数が急増しています。そこで今回は、「Bluesky」の特徴や利用状況について調査し、今後の動向を占っていきます。

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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