Threads hype: Meta launches the fastest growing app in history
Launched on July 5, Meta’s new social media app Threads has spun up an enormous amount of attention. After pulling in 30 million users on launch day, Threads officially became the fastest growing app in history, eclipsing the record recently set by ChatGPT. And growth didn’t slow down there. Within just five days, the app smashed past 100 million users—who were predominantly driven by organic hype and powerful cross-promotion, with little paid activity.
Threads’ early growth story demonstrates indisputably how much demand and excitement there still is for new apps that meet user needs and create ‘delight’. However, from Twitter’s legal threats to a hold up on launching in the European Union due to regulatory concerns, the launch has not been without controversy.
So, let’s take a look at Threads and what its growth and setbacks say about the mobile app ecosystem.
Threads - the right app at the right time?
After a record breaking first day, Threads went on to accumulate more than 100 million users by its fifth day, and the world is definitely paying attention. Meta’s stock price also saw a 15% spike in the post-launch week.
Now sitting at 150 million downloads total (achieved 5.5 times faster than Pokemon GO—the previous app to hold this record), new data has also revealed that Threads has accumulated a weekly active user base equivalent to one fifth of Twitter’s.
By examining the context in which Threads was released it becomes clear—albeit no less impressive—why the app is off to such a monumental start. Perhaps most obviously, recent changes to Twitter have seen the platform embroiled in negative sentiment with large swathes of users aka Tweeps, and brands, who no longer identify with its direction. Threads is being referred to as a potential ‘Twitter killer’ for a reason, despite other text-based micro-blogging apps like Mastodon, Post, and Spill not having managed to steal Twitter’s thunder. Although, recent reports also show that Twitter’s active user base has been in decline since the beginning of the year.
One day after the launch of Threads, Elon Musk tweeted “Competition is fine, cheating is not,” amid threats of legal action from Twitter, which Meta has since dismissed.
Much of the early success can also be attributed to cross-promotion, and an almost incomparably huge backing. It’s handy that Instagram has more than 2.5 billion monthly active users. Access to Threads is actually limited to those who already have an Instagram account, and account and login details are ported over and linked, resulting in the largest scale leveraging of cross-promotion in the history of mobile apps. This threading of one app to the other also offers immediate benefits to users, as the ability to easily follow accounts you already follow on Instagram means there’s relevant content on your feed from the get-go.
For the time being, the app is also ad free, offering a simplistic and minimal feel that is remarkably fresh in the modern social media landscape. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a recent statement that they would consider monetizing Threads in the future, but only once they cross the 1 billion user mark. Although the app is enjoyable ad-free, the incorporation of monetization features would make it an exciting addition to Meta’s properties for mobile advertisers.
“Our approach will be the same as all our other products: make the product work well first, then see if we can get it to a clear path to 1 billion people, and only then think about monetization at that point,” Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Meta.
At this rate, reaching 1 billion users on the platform might not be that far down the line. To achieve this milestone, however, Threads will almost certainly need to become available in the EU.
Threading lightly: What’s going on with the EU rollout?
For those based in the EU currently suffering from FOMO or wondering why you can’t download Threads, it’s all to do with data-privacy regulations. The indefinitely delayed rollout is a poignant reflection of the impact user- and data-privacy laws and developments are having the mobile app ecosystem. And it’s the EU where this is most sharply regulated and enforced.
A giant like Meta treading lightly highlights how critical it is for all corners of the mobile marketing industry to put data privacy and next-generation measurement and analytics at the forefront of strategic planning. From iOS/SKAN to Google’s Privacy Sandbox on Android and beyond, aggregated data and a privacy-centric modus operandi are now essential.
As for what’s going on with the EU delay specifically, Meta Spokesperson Christine Pai told The Verge last week that the app is being held up due to “upcoming regulatory uncertainty”. This is likely in reference to the EU’s Digital Marketer’s Act (DMA) as opposed to any potential breach of current GDPR law. Meta’s Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman also explained on Threads that the app meets GDPR privacy requirements, “but building on this offering against the backdrop of other regulatory requirements that have not yet been clarified would potentially take a lot longer, and in the face of this uncertainty, we prioritized offering this new product to as many people as possible.”
Where to from here?
Early hype and downloads is one thing, forging an engaged, loyal user base is another. Threads certainly has the potential to become a main-stay in the social media space, as the text-based microblogging format has proven itself to have ongoing relevance alongside video giants, and time spent on mobile apps is increasing.
There are a few features users have already highlighted as necessary to their continued use of the app. For the time being, the only feed available is algorithmic, meaning there’s no option for a chronological timeline or to sort only by accounts you’re following. A chronological feed has already been highlighted as “on the list” of slated Threads updates, along with the ability to edit posts, translate to different languages, and easy switching between accounts.
If the app is truly set up to stand up to Twitter, it will need to become the place people turn to for real-time updates during major events and breaking news moments. If in a few months, Threads has implemented the features needed to facilitate this real-time, chronological “conversation” and a major event takes place, will large swathes of users go to Threads instead of Twitter for the most up-to-date information? It remains to be seen.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Threads’ feature development, eventual EU rollout, and how its space in the market impacts the app industry. For now, one thing is clear—people love apps. And so do we! To learn how Adjust can help you grow your app, you can check out our guide to scaling an app or request a demo today.
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