Meta’s Threads struggles to grow amid rivalry with Elon Musk’s X, ranking ahead of only Tumblr


Threads, the real-time messaging app developed by Meta, is facing challenges in attracting new users after its successful launch in July. According to Insider Intelligence's Threads forecast, the app currently ranks close to the bottom among popular social media platforms in terms of the number of U.S. users. The forecast predicts that Threads will have 23.7 million U.S. users by 2023, significantly behind Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, which have much larger user bases.

Even its closest competitor, X, is expected to have 56.1 million U.S. users in 2023, meaning that Threads will have less than half of X's user base. The forecast also projects that Threads will continue to rank second-to-last among social networks in the U.S. market until 2025.

Recent reports from mobile analytics firms such as Sensor Tower and Similarweb have also documented a decline in Threads' usage. While the app initially gained popularity due to its easy sign-up process for existing Instagram users and being seen as a mainstream alternative to X, it cannot rely solely on X defectors for continued growth.

If Elon Musk, the owner of X, decides to charge a monthly subscription fee for X users as he mentioned in a livestreamed talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Meta may have a better opportunity to monetize Threads. However, this move could alienate more X users and potentially increase advertiser interest in Threads.

Despite the challenges, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that the company has no immediate plans to monetize Threads and will focus on expanding its user base and introducing new features. Meta has released updates such as a desktop version and a search tool to make Threads more appealing to users. Advertisers and creators have suggested that Threads needs additional features, such as analytics tools, to attract their investment.

In order to become a major player in the social media market, Threads needs to establish its own unique identity rather than being perceived as an extension of Instagram or an alternative to X. TikTok's success can be attributed to its offering of a unique social experience, and Threads should strive for a similar breakthrough.  

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