Will Threads Stick Around?

Record breaking growth, but are people really sticking around?

By Furquan Ahmad

By Furquan Ahmad


July 28, 2023

July 28, 2023

Threads is here to take over from Twitter?

Meta have officially launched “Threads” which has broken tons of records for growth, taking only 5 days to reach 100 million users. We’re going to explore the details that contributed to the growth and some of the design tweaks and discuss whether or not the app will stick around?

Why it matters:

It’s not everyday a new social media app gets launched in a big tech company and breaks records. There has been a lot of frustration from Twitter users that Meta has capitalised on to perhaps create a new successful app that is now on a plan to grow to 1 billion users.

Why are we presented with this opportunity today?

Twitter, or "X," has self-sabotaged itself with the mass firing of employees, resulting in a lot of lost knowledge, controversial brand changes, and feature changes.

The platform hasn't evolved. They've been so fixated on solving the problem of how to make money that they've been left behind. Recently, Elon Musk has been admiring all-encompassing super app models such as "Grab" and "WeChat," where there are endless features under one roof.

Elon Musk reports record usage of the app, but the reality is that they could have scaled and been way further ahead. People are looking for other places to do some microblogging.

Finally A Smart Move By Twitter?

The recent decision to allow people to get paid for their tweet engagement is a smart move to incentivize creators to stick to the platform and create engaging content. However, it does feel like one step forward and ten steps back at the moment.

Threads Being Built 

Recommendations Systems

Some key ingredients make a social media app successful which are centred around recommendations systems, having content show up in your feed from things you’re interested in and seeing content from people you want to follow.

Thread feed explained

The ranking pritoises unseen connected content first, where you’re seeing posts from people you follow (zone 1), this usually makes the best feed, so follow as many accounts you like to get more zone 1 content.

After you scroll through all the content in zone 1 you start getting unconnected recommendations.

These can be from brands and celebrities you don’t follow, but there needs to be a bigger index on mutual accounts, if you follow food content show me other food influencers in my feed rather then general trending recommendations. This is why people really want a “following feed”, which has now shipped!

The Feed Isn’t Always Interesting

Once I get through my Zone 1 content my feed isn’t really that interesting and I feel like the recommendations here could be a lot better. I love watching live sport events and reading real time reactions on Twitter, this seems to be so difficult to do on Threads, I don’t seem to be getting as much design content on my feed.

Leveraging Your Instagram Followers

Threads leverages your Instagram following and followers to get you out the door a lot faster. This is honestly such a big win with helping with onboarding and hopefully stickiness. Also Meta have really improved their recommendation algorithm in 2022 for FB and IG. Reels engagement has gone up significantly, thanks to great recommendations.

There’s loads of case studies on Twitter around how you’re way more likely to stick around on the platform if you follow accounts from the get go, so you have an interesting feed to see.

No Fresh Content Is A Problem!

If there isn't engaging or interesting content on the platform, it's going to fizzle out quickly, no matter how good the product is. YouTube is a good example of a platform that still manages to get fresh content uploaded from existing and new content creators, 18 years after its first release.

I have to say that many of my friends are still tweeting and using Twitter. A lot of the design Twitter community still seems to be on there. You're going to go where the content is. No desktop app is a big limitation for Threads for me personally.

Integrity and content moderation.

Twitter is full of biases and controversial bans of what can be said and what can’t be said, and it’s really watered down the platform. We’ve seen the rise of platforms such as BlueSky and Mastodon which are “decentralised” platforms controlled by central communities. Threads claim there will a lot less controverary on the platform and it’s one of their selling points. By removing political figures and news outlets could really help with this.

Facebook has been testing out removing news outlet content being shared in certain countries due to all the legal ramifications that comes with displaying news.

Is it fair to say that Threads is basically a Twitter clone?

The main premise is pretty much the same in terms of a microblogging app, but the idea that each app has to reinvent and pioneer designs differently is, I think, a bit of a fallacy.

If you're looking to launch a baseline app to the market, you're going to use components, patterns, and interactions that people already know and love, and that scale. You're adding unnecessary risk by trying to break design boundaries and come up with new patterns and designs. The delighters can come a bit later.

Yes, it would be refreshing to have a brand new take on what a social media app should look like, but what makes an effective and scalable user experience should be looked at first. If you're building for scale, you can't push too many boundaries; there are accessibility considerations to take into account here.

My favourite design highlights - 

I love the component where you can follow someone from your home. The refresh animation is very cute. You press return 3 times in the composer and it starts a new thread Carousels for image look beautiful!

Those are my thoughts on Threads, thanks for reading!

Things are changing fast in this space, let’s see what happens next with X and Threads.

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© furquan101 2024


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© furquan101 2024