One Year of Threads: A Look Back at Changes and Growth Since Launch

by | Jul 5, 2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Did you join the rush to set up a new social media account 12 months ago? Have you been active, or are you lurking? I’m still in the ‘lurker’ category right now, having decided to watch and see before adding a new platform to my task list. I’ve seen too many social media platforms come and go over the years so I have perhaps become a bit sceptical of getting involved as an early adopter! However, as we reach one year of Threads and the platform continues to develop, I might be tempted to get more involved…

Let’s take a look at how things have changed.

What is Threads?

Threads is a social media platform operated by Meta and integrated with Instagram and Facebook. Launched on 5th July 2023, the app is designed for text-based conversations, aiming to provide a space for real-time updates and public discussions. Meta notes that 63% of all Threads posts are text-only. One in four posts include at least one image.

The app was initially seen as a direct competitor to X (Twitter), offering users a platform to share text updates, engage in conversations, and follow topics of interest. However, X (Twitter) is still going strong and there are some clear differences in the platforms – namely that Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram) took an early stance that “Threads isn’t for news and Politics.”

The First Year of Threads in Numbers

Meta’s launch of Threads broke many social media records. Let’s discuss the up-to-date user statistics and other data.

Launch and Initial Growth

Threads saw an explosive start, gaining 10 million users within the first seven hours of its launch. It still holds the title for the fastest platform to reach 1 million active users, taking only 1 hour.

This rapid adoption was partly driven by its integration with Instagram, allowing users to transition to the new platform seamlessly.

User Base

By the end of its first week, Threads had over 100 million users. 

In December 2023, it saw a huge month-over-month spike in users because of its launch in the European Union.

However, growth has now started to slow, and as of July 2024, the platform has around 175 million monthly active users.

Graph showing the growth in Threads users since launch

Source: Exploding Topics

Changes and Updates Over the Last 12 Months

Since its launch, Threads has undergone several updates and introduced new features to the platform. Here are some of the notable changes:

Initiatives to Boost Engagement and User Retention

To promote engagement, Meta started displaying a carousel of suggested Threads posts within the Instagram app. This initiative aims to re-engage users who might have lost interest after the initial launch excitement. 

Meta has also integrated Threads with Instagram Direct Messages (DMs). This new feature allows the platform’s posts to be shared directly within Instagram DMs. 

Feed Customisation

Threads now offer two distinct feeds – “For You” and “Following”. The “For You” feed shows recommended posts based on user interests, while the “Following” feed displays posts from accounts the user follows. 

This feature allows users to view posts exclusively from accounts they follow, offering a more curated and personalised experience.

Desktop Version

Responding to user demand, Meta introduced a desktop version of Threads, allowing users to access the platform from their computers. 

This update also includes the ability to follow specific conversations, enhancing the user experience by making it easier to stay engaged with topics of interest. 

Post Editing and Voice Notes

The post editing feature allows users to modify their posts after publishing, addressing a common user request for flexibility and accuracy. 

The addition of voice notes enhances the communication options, enabling users to share audio messages directly within their Threads conversations.

Opt-Out of Posts on Facebook and Instagram

Meta’s Threads then added the ability for users to opt out of having their posts appear on Facebook and Instagram

The Addition of Polls and GIFs

Threads expanded its engagement options by adding polls and GIFs. These features aimed to make conversations more dynamic and improve engagement levels.

Threads GIFs

Source: Social Media Today

Threads Content Ranking 

Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s chief, previously provided insights into how content ranking works on Threads. The platform prioritises recent and relevant posts. Factors influencing ranking include user engagement, recency, and the relationship between the user and the content creator. 

Global Rollout of Topic Tags

In December 2023, Threads rolled out its version of hashtags, topic tags. This feature allows users to categorise their posts with relevant tags, making content discovery easier and more organised. More than 50 million Tags have been created, with the top three being PhotographyThreads, BookThreads and GymThreads.

However, unlike hashtags, you can only add one tag per post, and you can add spaces between words.

Bookmarking Feature

Threads then introduced a bookmarking feature, allowing users to save their favourite posts for easy access later. 

Screenshot showing bookmark feature on threads

Source: Tech Crunch

Integration with Fediverse

One of the significant updates is Threads’ integration with the fediverse. This allows the platform’s users to interact with users on other decentralised social media platforms like Mastodon. The integration aims to promote open social networking across different platforms.

Trending Topics

A “Trending Now” section has been introduced on the search page, highlighting popular topics and discussions in real-time. This improves the ability to join in one conversation users care about. Topics are determined by their machine learning AI systems, based on what people are engaging with on Threads.

Scheduling via Third-Party Apps

In March, Threads began its first API testing allowing content to be scheduled via some third-party apps. This option is now available for Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer. 

Threads to Introduce TweetDeck-Like Desktop Display

Threads is set to launch a new desktop display resembling TweetDeck, allowing for more organised content management. This also provides more customisation and monitoring options for users.

The relationship between Threads and Instagram.

One of the biggest initial user concerns was the connection with Instagram. Although this made it super-easy to set up an account, it also tied an Instagram and Threads account together. It took until November 2023 for Meta to add an option to delete a Threads profile without impacting an Instagram account.

Now the platform is one year old we are likely to see further separation.

In an interview discussing the first anniversary, Mosseri shared: 

Threads has benefited a lot from the fact that it is linked to Instagram. But the two networks still feel mostly separate. How do you think that that relationship might evolve over time? My hope is that Threads gets more independent over time. It’s still deeply integrated with Instagram — you can sign in with the same account, you can automatically follow the same accounts, and we show Threads content in Instagram. But over time, I want it to be more and more independent. We’re working on things like Threads-only accounts and data separation. As we iterate on the product, it’s gonna differentiate more and more.” 

Conclusion: Reflecting on Threads’ First Year

As Threads celebrates its first anniversary, the platform has experienced remarkable growth and numerous enhancements aimed at boosting user engagement and retention. From its explosive launch and integration with Instagram to the introduction of features like desktop access, post editing, voice notes, and integration with the fediverse, the app has continually evolved to meet user needs. 

Despite challenges in maintaining user engagement, Meta’s commitment to improving the platform shows promise for its future.

What features or changes do you think will shape the next year for Threads?

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