Zuck Closing in on Elon on Threads’ One-Year Birthday 

After the first Tweet was sent in March of 2006, a new type of social media gave users the opportunity to do something they’d never done before: post concise thoughts on multiple topics in a simplified format. Since then, the short-form social media format known as microblogging has grown to contribute to the estimated five billion active social media users worldwide as of 2024.

Threads, created and owned by social media giant Meta, announced in early July of 2024 that it had reached more than 175 million active users just two days before its one-year anniversary. On the heels of this announcement, let’s examine how Threads came to be, how it stacks up against its biggest competitor, and where this growth may take it in the future.

A Brief History of Threads

When it launched on July 5, 2023, Threads provided parent company Meta with its own platform in the microblogging space that could connect seamlessly with its other popular companies, including Facebook and Instagram.

Referred to as an app built by the Instagram team for sharing with text, would-be users soon learned that Threads would require users to have an Instagram account. In fact, the two platforms were initially so connected that it was impossible to delete Threads without also deleting Instagram—a complaint that was resolved in November of 2023.

Threads vs. X

Despite holding the title of the fastest-growing app in history after reaching 100 million users in less than a week, Threads still doesn’t rank among the top social media apps based on active monthly users. Its biggest competitor, X (formerly Twitter), reported 600 million active users in May of 2024, according to Elon Musk, who purchased the platform for $44 billion in October of 2022.

It’s widely believed that Musk’s acquisition and rebranding of Twitter/X contributed in part to Threads’ active user base since monthly active users on X were estimated to have dropped by as much as 18 percent between October 2022 and September 2023. Major companies such as Disney, Sony, and NBCUniversal pulling advertising spending from the platform also resulted in X’s valuation dropping by an estimated 72 percent of Musk’s original purchase price, according to Fidelity.

The Future of Threads

Social media platforms are constantly evolving in an effort to edge out competitors, and Threads is no different, with the following new features either already available or recently announced:

  • Swiping on posts to indicate whether you like them or not, allowing you to modify your Threads algorithm beyond that of your Instagram feed.
  • Improvements to its “Tag” feature that was launched in December of 2023 to now automatically suggest the use of a hashtag when keywords are included in your post.
  • Additional cross-functionality between Threads’ parent platform (Instagram) and Meta’s private messaging app (WhatsApp).

Despite some initial setbacks, Threads has demonstrated consistency in terms of its viability in the microblogging space over the last year, with potential for additional growth thanks to it being part of the suite of Meta products.

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