Against All Odds, Threads Has Turned Into a Serious Rival for X, With 175 Million Monthly Active Users and Counting

Meta’s X/Twitter competitor has become a unique alternative a year after its launch.

Threads already has 175 million users, and it curiously reached that staggering number by the quietest means
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Almost a year ago, Twitter wasn’t doing very well. But one platform's hardship is another's opening. In this case, Meta took advantage of Twitter's situation to launch Threads. This indiscriminate copy seemed unlikely to succeed because Twitter (X) was, after all, a platform without an equal.

However, after a year, this alternative seems to have done well. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg, who trolled Musk with the platform's launch, recently boasted that Threads already has more than 175 million active users per month. “What a year,” the Facebook co-founder claimed. And it has been.

Users welcomed Threads in a spectacular fashion. In just 15 hours, it reached 30 million users. In five days, it reached 100 million, smashing ChatGPT’s record of reaching that number in two months.

But growth over time has been much slower. In the nearly 12 months since that milestone, the company has added 75 million users, a more than notable showing. But in Europe, where it launched on December 14, 2023, it has gained far fewer.

The figure is far from Facebook’s estimated 3 billion monthly users (MAU) or the 2 billion that Instagram and WhatsApp have. X/Twitter is also far behind: According to Statista, it has around 620 million monthly active users.

The Fine Print Behind Threads' Boom

However, Threads’ achievement is significant, because this social media platform has grown organically and practically through the recommendation and support of users who are fed up with Twitter—or Musk, or both—and have decided to move to Meta's alternative. Regardless, Threads’ quiet growth has some additional aspects it's important to point out.

First, Meta didn’t share the number of daily active users (DAU). The company has communicated this figure for Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This lack of info suggests that Threads users are casual: They have an account but hardly use it. The difference between MAUs and DAUs is likely significant for Threads.

Another essential element to this quiet growth is that it’s not so silent, at least within Instagram, which continues to be Threads’ biggest advertising avenue. The initial integration of the two—if you had an Instagram account, you automatically had a Threads account—caused some controversy. Meta continues to use that strong relationship to promote its Twitter rival.

Still, Threads’ impressive growth shows that an alternative to “almighty” Twitter is possible. Mastodon tried to create an additional choice for Twitter users, but Meta was more intelligent: Threads became part of the “fediverse”—a collection of social networking services that can communicate with each other using a standard protocol—which was another plus point for Twitter detractors.

Another important argument for using Threads is that there are no ads. Given Meta's resources, it can operate without those revenues for quite some time. The Verge reports Threads is considering introducing advertising in 2025, but there are no absolute certainties. It seems inevitable that ads will arrive eventually. Zuckerberg has the advantage of being able to afford to lose money on Threads.

On the other side, Musk is still trying to change the model to base—almost—everything on subscriptions, which has scared off advertisers. Which, by the way, may end up welcoming a platform like Threads with open arms that is “safer” for them on a reputational level. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Twitter openly embrace pornography, for example.

Meta seems to be betting on “text-mode sharing” on Threads and letting video and images take center stage on its other social media platforms. Not a bad strategy. A recent survey—internal, mind you—showed that younger generations feel comfortable using Threads. It will be interesting to see how this rivalry between Threads and Twitter (X) plays out.

Image | Lucerna3 con Midjourney

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