Threads 12 months on: Meta app has 150M monthly users, pays influencers to use it and offers benefits for brands

Posted by Caroline Edwards in News

3 weeks ago

Meta’s X (formerly Twitter) rival Threads launched on 6 July 2023 and more than 100 million users signed up in its first five days. Creators and brands had been early adaptors of Threads, but by the end of its first month, the app had already lost more than half of its users. Now 12 months on, does the platform still have legs?

Threads initially offered a refuge for people who didn’t want to be on X after it was purchased by billionaire Elon Musk in 2022 and the platform became more toxic. There was initial interest and hype for the X alternative – according to Google Trends, searches in the UK for Threads peaked from 2 to 8 June 2023 (the app’s release) – but this has since decreased exponentially and flatlined. However, it still had more than 150 million monthly active users globally as of April 2024, according to Meta CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg – up 20 million from February. In comparison, X currently has more than 335 million users worldwide.

Despite its growing user base, the only people who seem to be using Threads are influencers or brand accounts. Companies that use Threads include Channel 4, Monzo, PrettyLittleThing, John Lewis and Waterstones. ITV was an early adopter and previously had some banter on it with Channel 4, but the broadcaster stopped posting content on the app in February 2024.

Influencers use the Meta platform to rant, ask questions about the industry and connect with like-minded creators. Creators previously posted this sort of content on X, but Threads seems to be considered more of a safe space for them to share their thoughts and call out companies. In June, lifestyle creator Henry Wade discussed why he left his management and said it’s the “best thing I’ve done” (the post has more than 19,000 views), while Tracey Hoole, Julie Hawkins and Kat Williams have all recently criticised the cost of attending London-based PR events. Meanwhile, Louise (LouLouExplores), Scott Ball and Stephanie Yeboah have shared their negative experiences with brands, such as content expectations and last-minute event invites.

Threads, similar to all social media platforms, is an echo chamber. But if it seems that it’s mostly creators who are using it, it’s because Threads is paying influencers to use the app. The “limited-time invite-only” programme is only available in the US and to earn bonuses, influencers’ posts must have more than 2,500 views, can’t be part of a brand partnership or use copyrighted material, and also cannot include watermarked content from other platforms such as TikTok. Social media expert Matt Navarra shared that US-based influencers can earn up to US $5,000 (£3,950) if their profiles, posts or replies generate more than 10,000 views. In comparison, X started paying top influencers back in 2023 – Navarra made US $369 (£267) from the ad revenue sharing programme in August 2023.

What has happened during the past 12 months on Threads? The app became available in the European Union in December 2023 after a five-month delay due to data concerns. Key features that have been added include a web version, a view count on posts, tags (users can only use one tag per post), being able to search for specific posts, polls, voice notes and being able to edit a Thread within the first five minutes. In November 2023, the app finally allowed users to delete their accounts separately from their Instagram accounts, a concern many people had when the platform first rolled out.

When Threads launched, it was the most downloaded non-game app in the past decade but by November 2023, The Drum had declared “Threads is dead”. It hasn’t yet lived up to the hype of being a replacement for X – which Zuckerberg previously said was not the aim of the platform – but it hasn’t joined the graveyard of social media yet. It may not have the same memes, news updates or funny posts that X does, but it still has value.

For brands and marketers, keep an eye on the app to see the trending conversations impacting the creator economy. Continue to use Threads – even if it’s sporadically – to engage with consumers who aren’t on X.

By Caroline Edwards, CORQ news and features writer.