The launch of Threads, Meta's new text-based app, is gaining enormous popularity. It has reached the milestone of 100 million users in an impressively short time, surpassing even the current champion, ChatGPT. The meteoric success of Threads is evident as it gained 2 million users within hours, 5 million in a day, and 30 million within a few days after its launch last Wednesday. I was user number 1,044,000 (@havro). By the end of the week, the app already had 70 million users and over 95 million posts made on the platform. However, the real test for Meta will be to keep users engaged in the long term.
Leveraging Instagram's subscriber base to boost Threads was an intelligent move. Instead of starting from scratch, they generated significant interest and migrated a portion of Instagram's over 2.3 billion users to the new platform. Some may consider this approach questionable regarding growth statistics, but it was a card that Meta had in their hands and decided to play.
It is known that Meta has been working on Threads for some time, especially since Elon Musk, the controversial CEO of Twitter, came into the picture. However, it is believed that Mark Zuckerberg's early release occurred after the rival failed to limit the number of post views. However, caution is needed when launching a product before its initial version is fully developed. This can be a double-edged sword, but it can also be the determining factor in ensuring audience retention. Only time will tell.
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram (and now Threads), said the platform would avoid political discussions and hard news due to the "negativity" associated with those topics. While this decision aligns with Meta's goal of promoting a more positive online environment, it may also limit the available content on the platform.
Although the app is functional and attractive, many essential features users consider necessary are still missing. Even with Adam Mosseri repeatedly stating that these features are on the to-do list, the hype around the new platform may diminish. It is evident that the development team is in a race against time to fix the issues caused by a premature launch.
Here are some basic features that Mosseri needs to prioritize before the wave passes:
Post editing: a standard feature and now only available to Twitter Blue subscribers; it seems it will be implemented for free in Threads.
Chronological feed for followers only: this feature is the most requested in the app and is the most significant current issue. Mosseri claims they are working on it but also mentioned the option of having a chronological feed on Instagram or Facebook. However, this option is hidden in these Meta-controlled apps.
Hashtags: they facilitate searching for specific topics, something Instagram users are already accustomed to. It would be interesting to have this feature in Threads as well.
Multiple accounts: This would allow switching between multiple accounts in Threads, including personal and business accounts from Instagram.
Proper search function: while it is possible to search for people, it is not possible to search for actual posts using keywords. This seems like a limitation, especially compared to TikTok, where search engine optimization features need improvement.
Desktop version: surprisingly, the desktop version was not included in the initial release of the app. This reinforces the idea that the trigger was pulled too early.
Instagram post embedding: currently, the only way to do this is by copying the post link on Instagram, which is quite cumbersome. Better integration between the two sites is expected.
Trends: a feature to discover what is trending on the internet, serving as a barometer for the most talked-about subjects on the platform.
Translation option: just like on Instagram.
Account deletion: currently, the only option is deactivating the Threads account, which doesn't make sense. It would be more convenient to have the option to delete only the Threads account without affecting the Instagram account.
Only followers can respond: this feature should have been included from the beginning as it is simple enough.
Direct messages (DMs): a more efficient integration with Messenger, Instagram DM, or even WhatsApp would be interesting, considering they are all under the same company, Meta.
Advertisements: Mosseri stated that the current priority is engagement, and ads are a secondary concern. However, it is understandable that Meta seeks to explore the commercial aspect of the business in the medium term.
In addition to the lack of basic features, Threads is also facing legal obstacles on its path to success. Feeling threatened by the similarities between Threads and its platform, Twitter issued a legal letter to Meta, claiming that Threads is a copy (Seriously, I hadn't noticed!). These disputes between Threads and Twitter, with their claims, counterarguments, and the influence of prominent figures, contribute to a captivating narrative. We have to wait and see what the future holds.
While the initial strategy of leveraging Instagram's user base was a good starting point, Threads needs to develop its own identity and explore advanced features like the integration of Natural Language Processing (NLP), the AI behind ChatGPT, to stand out among current platforms. Furthermore, it is necessary to go beyond what other platforms already do and eliminate the dependency on "likes," encouraging the creation of real relationships and motivating young people to go out and interact in person, rather than just seeking screen time for ad sales.
In summary, Threads is experiencing a meteoric rise but faces the challenge of keeping users engaged in the long term. The strategy of leveraging Instagram's user base was smart, but many basic features still need to be implemented. Meta must work quickly to meet user demands and improve the app experience. Additionally, Threads also faces legal obstacles regarding its similarities with Twitter. However, I believe the platform has the potential to stand out by exploring advanced NLP/AI features and promoting meaningful offline interactions.
The future of Threads will be interesting to follow.