Mark Zuckerberg delivers on promise to pour ‘gasoline’ on Threads growth as the platform regains users while X shrinks

  • After an initial wave of downloads, Meta’s new app Threads struggled to retain users.
  • With new features, millions of people are using the app again. It’s gained 260 million downloads.
  • Meanwhile, usage of X, formerly known as Twitter, continues to decline significantly.

Mark Zuckerberg is following through on his promise to increase the use of Threads.

Threads struggled to retain a small fraction of those users on the platform after breaking the record for most downloads of a new app, many of whom were looking for a like-for-like replacement of X, formerly known as Twitter.

Threads was initially bare bones, built quickly on the back of Instagram’s technology by just 15 engineers to compete with Twitter as that app’s usefulness and popularity waned under Elon Musk’s chaotic changes. In July, the Meta CEO insisted that the app was not in its final form. “I’m highly confident that we’re gonna be able to pour enough gasoline on this to help it grow,” he said.

Threads has added a slew of new features since then, including a web version, keyword search, voice posts, and the ability to edit posts, all while avoiding promoting news. Smaller features, such as being able to follow updates in individual threads by tapping a bell icon, mass following people mentioned in a post, and even tagging people’s Instagram accounts, are also now available.

As the app has matured rapidly in recent weeks, users have begun to return, and downloads have increased. According to Apptopia data, Threads has around 33 million daily active users and 120 million monthly active users so far in October, up from around 25 million daily users and 100 million monthly users in July. SensorTower discovered an initial drop in usage, where 78% of people who downloaded Threads stopped using the app, has shrunk to a 28% drop. According to Apptopia data, the app has been downloaded 260 million times since its launch on July 6, with September downloads nearly doubling those in August.

Meanwhile, use of Twitter, or X, is declining. According to Apptopia, daily active users have decreased by 12% since July, while downloads have decreased by 28%. X usage and downloads are down significantly in nearly every country where the app is currently available, and web traffic is down 15% in the United States alone.

Although the Threads team is small by Meta standards (around 50 people), the company was surprised by the interest in the app and “really wants it to work,” according to an employee.

To that end, Threads is now partially integrated with Facebook and Instagram, two of the world’s most popular apps. Each user’s Instagram page contains a direct link to Threads, a Threads post can be sent in Instagram DMs, and as of this week, Threads is being promoted within the Instagram app feed via a small carousel of select posts under the header “Threads for you.” The same recommended Threads carousel can be found in Facebook feeds. Threads was included in Instagram’s October anniversary celebration in New York, where the company invited creators to a day of panels on how to use the platforms most effectively. The Threads logo was featured on free merchandise.

“A big thank you to everyone who’s made Instagram and Threads what they are today,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri wrote about the event on Threads.

A spokesperson for Meta did not respond to a request for comment.

Polls and other Threads features are said to be on the way. One of the most significant changes for Threads will be when the platform begins to monetize. Threads is expected to be an option in the Meta Business Suite, the company’s ads and business platform, early next year, according to two people familiar with the company’s advertising business.

This week, cyber security analyst Jorge Caballero discovered several new additions to the app’s code related to ads and paid partnerships, which are important for creators to highlight when a product they’re posting about is an advertisement.

“Threads has the potential to be another major platform for META,” Angelo Zino, a senior analyst at CFRA, said if the momentum continues and a new place for Meta to gain advertising revenue is created.

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