- Despite its meteoric rise, Meta’s Threads is losing its sparkle, according to an Insider Intelligence analysis shared with Marketing Dive. The platform is expected to rank second-to-last among social networks this year through 2025, besting only Tumblr.
- The X (formerly Twitter) lookalike is expected to have 23.7 million users in the U.S. by the end of 2023, amounting to less than half of the user base of X (56.1 million). Threads is forecast to grow its user base by 26.4% in 2024 and 13.1% in 2025 for a total of 34 million users.
- X, under the ownership of Elon Musk, is forecast to shrink, allowing Threads to close the gap in coming years. However, Threads will need to gain a stronger point of differentiation for success in the long term, according to Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg.
At its launch in July, Meta’s Threads took the social networking landscape by storm, reaching 100 million members in record time to become the fastest growing app of all time. However, the meteoric growth quickly fell back to earth, tasking Meta with finding additional ways to make the offering stand out in an increasingly saturated market, and there’s still a long way to go. Threads is expected to round out the year with 23.7 million U.S. users, equating to just 10.4% of social network users and 17.5% of Instagram users, according to Insider Intelligence.
While Threads is expected to see slowed growth, it still is expected to eventually close the gap with Elon Musk’s X, a platform that is expected to see declines in users which could help Threads catch up, per the forecast. Specifically, X this year will have 56.1 million U.S. users, however, by 2025, that number will have dropped to 47 million credited to user concerns over the stability of the platform and its content, according to Insider Intelligence, an observation that has followed a long stretch of criticisms of the platform since Musk’s takeover. Other changes, like the possibility of a user subscription fee, could drive even more users off X, though Threads shouldn’t count on the platform’s questionable shifts as a sustainable growth strategy.
“Threads received an initial boost from Twitter’s missteps, but it can’t rely on X defectors to continue to grow,” Enberg said in the report. “Still, Musk’s recent announcement to charge all X users a monthly subscription fee could open up a clearer avenue for Meta to monetize Threads.”
Since its debut, Threads has been working on a number of updates to stay relevant, recently testing basic features like post editing — something X (then Twitter) refused to add for years — along with account switching and profile deletion. Additionally, the platform earlier this month added additional desktop functionality to its new web version of the app. Added features could help Threads support both its growth and user engagement, the latter of which Instagram chief Adam Mosseri recently cited as a core challenge.
Though Threads could catch up with X in the coming years, TikTok poses the stiffest competition for Meta, with the ByteDance platform forecast to remain the third most popular social app behind Facebook and Instagram through 2025, per the report. Popularized for its short-form video format, TikTok is also the preferred social platform among the key Gen Z demographic, spurring lookalikes from competitors like Instagram and YouTube. For Threads to stand up against TikTok, it would first require a more defined identity, according to Enberg.
“For Threads to carve a long-lasting place in the social landscape, it needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. It must also do so fast: Meta isn’t above ditching new apps or folding them into existing services. And Threads’ identity must be more than an extension of Instagram or an alternative to X,” Enberg said in the report