tigerbond's Senior Social Media Manager, Bryan Armit, loves the arrival of a new social app so after a few weeks of road-testing, who better to discuss Meta’s Threads than him?
We invited Bryan to do a blog takeover and give us the lowdown on whether threads has totally unraveled, or if the apps latest updates are enough to boost user engagement.
Threads grew to 100 million users in record time (five days), with users quickly flocking from Instagram to see what the hype was about. But after a promising few days something happened. Engagement and use plummeted.
Users are logging into Threads less frequently and are spending much less time within the app when they do.
During launch, users would open Threads an average of 14 times a day and spending close to 19 minutes engaging with its content. However, these figures have taken a sharp nosedive.
By August 1st, users were logging in on average 2.6 times a day and spending an average of just 2.9 minutes in the app per day. [SOURCE]
So where did it all start to unravel? Why aren’t users hooked? Let’s dive in…
Issue 1: Where is the search feature on Threads?
82% of shoppers tend to do their searching on social platforms instead of using the traditional search engines such as Google and Bing. More and more, consumers are starting to use social platforms as search engines.
So, why can’t we use Threads like a search engine yet?
Because they have completely ignored user habits.
Using Threads feels confined and claustrophobic.
There’s no way to explore and get stuck down a rabbit hole like you can on X (formerly known as Twitter), YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
Instead, threaders are stuck with the content that the platform has chosen to show you (or the newly introduced “Following” feed).
This is made even worse by the fact that the content recommendation algorithm in the “For you” feed is sub par at the moment.
The content recommendations feel nowhere near as relevant as recommendations on Instagram or TikTok.
This lack of control is exactly what users don’t want.
We’re moving towards a more personalised social experience.
Users want to be able to shape their algorithms and find and curate the content they want to see.
At the very least they want to be able to easily discover new content through a search function.
Introducing this function opens a world of possibilities, including live posting during TV shows, sporting events and award shows.
It is also worth noting that we’re told content search on Threads is coming in the next few weeks. But that still doesn’t change the fact that they’ve gone so long missing such a basic social platform feature and missing out on hooking loyal users
Threads 2: What gap does threads fill?
It might be similar to X in concept, but culture-wise Threads feels too similar to Instagram. It’s almost like a bolt-on.
Linking the app to Instagram was both the best and worst decision Meta made with Threads.
Great because it allowed them to get to 100M users in just five days.
Bad because the app hasn’t been able to develop its own culture. As it was solely the Instagram crowd that filtered over, the app has naturally taken on a style and culture very similar to Instagram.
This (along with the fact you need an Instagram account to start a Threads account) could act as a deterrent to the X crowd who are seeking a new platform, so it’s unlikely that many users will make the jump.
Plus, Twitter isn’t broken...yet. It still functions and provides a purpose.
This reduces the potential audience to effectively the Facebook and Instagram audience, but if those users aren’t getting anything unique from Threads (since it’s so similar to Instagram) those users will naturally just continue to use Instagram.
At best, the only thing Threads will do is split the amount of time people spend on Facebook and Instagram.
Meta is completing with itself, not X.
When introducing a new platform, it has to fill a gap in the market.
Users must get something they can’t get anywhere else, or at least a better experience, and that isn’t the case here.
Issue 3: What’s trending on Threads
Threads can take the premise and features of X, but it can’t take X’s culture.
Let’s look at how a lot of us use Twitter…
We’re watching a live TV show (sports, award shows, love island, take your pick) or something dramatic has just happened in the news (celebrity passing away, MP blunder, election).
Naturally, we take to X and search for that topic to see what others are saying, or to get involved in the conversation.
It doesn’t feel like that instant nature has trickled over to Threads.
It feels slower and more sterile.
Users are treating it like a text-based Instagram, instead of a X replacement.
This issue isn’t helped by the lack of key features on Threads, such as clickable hashtags or a content search function.
This makes it very difficult to engage in cultural conversations on Threads: there’s no way to see what’s trending, and this is a big misstep.
Can Threads turn this around or will it fade into oblivion like countless other Meta ventures?
I don’t think all hope is lost yet, but the next few months will be the most challenging.
Getting users onto the platform is the easiest part for Meta – and they did a great job at that -but those users who joined and had a lacklustre experience are much less likely to try again, even as Threads implements new features.
Convincing those users to give it another shot, and then getting them hooked, is the only way Threads can win.
Ultimately, launching a platform that lacked fundamental features (such as search, chronological feed, DMs) was a bad decision.