With Elon Musk floating that he may soon make X, formerly known as Twitter, a paid platform for all users, many text-based content creators are again looking for a new home. There are many options in play now including Mastodon and Bluesky, but Meta’s Threads stays prominent in the headlines with its genuinely impressive speed run to 100 million signups. However, with Threads then almost immediately seeing a large departure of users, we may wonder what exactly a text-based social platform needs to thrive, and what Threads needs to catch up on.
Ryan Detert, founder and CEO of influencer marketing company Influential, believes one of the primary appeals of a platform like this is interacting with current events in real time, something Threads doesn’t presently make easy.
“They’ve yet to build out true feature sets that are similar to the live trending section. Which really that’s the majority of where even I still check to see what’s happened today. Was it an earthquake that just happened? Did someone win a game that I missed because I didn’t sit and watch it? That doesn’t exist yet on Threads,” Ryan Detert said.
Actor and comedian Adam Rose, who entertains over 920,000 followers on Instagram, agrees that a key part of what he used to enjoy about Twitter is its ability to engage wide audiences in “in the moment” conversation. It’s this massive sharing of thoughts on whatever is currently relevant, he says, that builds an exciting community on a platform.
“I think when you can look in the morning and you can see what’s happening today, what are people talking about, people enjoy that type of curated conversation that they can feel a little bit more free to take part in,” Rose said.
But while this ability to converse over shared present interests is what drew Rose to Twitter originally, he notes now feeling increasingly disillusioned by the culture on the platform in recent months.
“You know, people nowadays it seems go on there to spill their outrage about whatever it is that’s happening in the world. Which I understand the need for that kind of outlet, but I think people were anxious to find an alternative space to converse, talk about current events, and share funny jokes or memes without the temperature being so high,” Rose said.
So it is in stark contrast to this that Rose has found a much more positive and enjoyable community on Threads, where he has quickly grown to over 100,000 followers.
“I think that people in my experience have almost exclusively used Threads for things that make them happy, as opposed to being a place where people go to battle or argue,” said Chris Detert, Chief Communications Officer at Influential.
While of course not all is positive on Threads, it’s worth noting that building a friendlier and less chaotic experience for new users was an explicit goal of the Threads team which, so far, seems to be showing progress.
Still though, Threads has struggled to keep both general users on the platform and, perhaps more importantly, to keep content creators active with the posts audiences would want to see. And, interestingly, some experts point to the unique nature of the app’s launch as a reason for some of its troubles.
Neil Waller, co-founder of the creator commerce company Whalar, notes that because Threads accounts are directly tied to Instagram accounts much of the new apps’ creators are ones primarily used to making photo and video content. And while pulling from that older, more established community was a fantastic way to grow, it may also mean that the new app’s creators are ones largely unfamiliar with and maybe unenthusiastic about text-based content.
“It’s not the type of content they create. They probably were not regular Twitter users, and so even out of content it was not the type of content they were used to consuming. And so they jumped on because of the ease, but then the behavior wasn’t there,” Waller said.
Krishna Subramanian, co-founder of the influencer marketing company Captiv8, echoes this point, in particular emphasizing that it may be tough for visual-first creators to even convince their audiences to interact with them in this new way.
“There’s this positive side of it where your audience might be excited about seeing text-based conversations and being able to communicate again within that community, which I think is interesting. But at the same time, I think it just requires a lot more work. And so if you weren’t primarily a text-based creator, or that wasn’t one of your channels, then it becomes tough to continue to build that out,” Subramanian said.
That’s not to say, though, that content creators on Threads weren’t trying.
Chris Detert remembers the excitement, just a few months ago, around Threads’ initial launch. He describes the rush of creators jumping on, securing their handles, and reveling in the engagement and sudden growth of followers. But soon after that initial period the comments and likes dwindled, and creators wondered whether more familiar platforms weren’t a better use of their time.
“I even look at really notable creators posting on there because they’re really trying to make it work, to make it happen. And there’s only a handful of comments and a few dozen likes. And I think if you’re not getting that sort of engagement, you’re not getting that reinforcement. If you feel like you’re just shouting in the woods alone it’s not fun,” Chris Detert said.
Waller notes that, presently in his work, he doesn’t get asked often about Threads. Neither the content creators he works with, nor the brands who wish to work with those creators, are eager to discuss any opportunities on the buzzy new social media app. So while he, like many, saw some promise in the platform, its present state leads him to wonder about its future.
Waller along with other experts in this space agree though that a key aspect holding Threads back presently is, again, its limited offering of features which, presently, keeps it a few steps behind being a complete X competitor. And, to be clear, Meta appears to agree as well as they have said key features will continue to roll out as the app’s life continues.
Adam Rose, for his part, remains positive that those updates will bring a new breath of life into the Threads community.
“I do think that as they roll out search features and things like that, we’re going to see daily active users shoot up. And I’m excited for that, because I do want that to be where the conversation is. And I think that’s already happening,” Rose said.
Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. X Corp replied that they were presently unavailable.
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