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Meta’s Threads Struggles to Gain Traction Amid Competition with Elon Musk’s X

Meta’s real-time messaging app, Threads, is facing challenges in attracting new users, a stark contrast to its successful debut in July. The Twitter-like platform now finds itself at the bottom of the list among popular social media platforms in the United States, trailing behind only Tumblr. This ranking is based on the number of U.S. users, as reported in Insider Intelligence’s recent Threads forecast.

According to the forecast, Threads is projected to have approximately 23.7 million U.S. users in 2023, significantly lagging behind social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, which boast 177.9 million, 135.2 million, and 102.3 million U.S. users, respectively. Its closest competitor, X, is expected to have 56.1 million U.S. users in 2023, making Threads fall short of even half of X’s U.S. user base.

For the U.S. market, Insider Intelligence predicts that Threads will continue to “rank second-to-last among social networks” through 2025.

The declining user base of Threads has also been documented by third-party mobile analytics firms such as Sensor Tower and Similarweb. Initially, Threads saw rapid growth, partly because of its seamless sign-up process for existing Instagram users. It also benefited from being a mainstream alternative to X, which has reportedly been losing users.

However, according to Jasmine Enberg, Principal Analyst at Insider Intelligence, Threads cannot solely rely on X defectors to fuel its growth. Enberg suggests that if Elon Musk decides to implement a monthly subscription fee for all X users, as he hinted during a recent livestreamed talk, Meta might have a more straightforward path to monetize Threads. This move, though, could further alienate X users and potentially increase advertiser interest in Threads.

Nonetheless, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously stated that the company has no immediate plans to monetize Threads until it becomes more established and garners a larger user base. In an effort to make Threads more appealing, Meta has introduced several new features, including a desktop version and a search tool.

Enberg emphasizes that Threads needs to carve out its own unique identity beyond being seen as an extension of Instagram or an alternative to X if it hopes to become a significant player in the social media landscape. Drawing a parallel with TikTok’s success, Enberg notes that TikTok gained popularity by offering users a fresh and distinctive social experience.

In the competitive world of social media, Threads faces the challenge of finding its niche and winning over users with a compelling and unique value proposition.


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