How Can Threads Win Back Users?

It wasn’t meant to be this way. Back in July, Threads became the fastest-adopted social media platform of all time, surging to over 100 million users in its first week after launch.

Released by Meta in an attempt to take on X (formerly known as Twitter), which has been losing users since Elon Musk took over the platform, the early signs were good for Mark Zuckerberg. However, the platform’s success was short-lived — in just a few weeks Threads lost half of its active users, who haven’t come back since.

Despite Zuckerberg stating that such a drop-off was “normal”, the future of what was meant to be the new Twitter very much hangs in the balance, particularly with Threads experiencing several issues. Users have complained about missing functionalities, such as a place to search hashtags, phrases, and names.

Meanwhile, the lack of advertising features has discouraged brands from shifting their focus to the platform. As explained by social media marketing agency Pitch, such platforms should allow brands to “gain consumer insight, build brand awareness and develop customer relations”.

However, with concerns around bots, hate speech, outages, and Musk’s erratic decision-making on X, there is still a huge opportunity for Threads to succeed in a post-Twitter world. Here we look at what the newest platform on the block can do to win back individuals and brands.

Implement customary features

While Threads is slowly adding features social media users are accustomed to elsewhere, such as a web version, it is still missing several others. These include the ability or option to:

  • Directly message others
  • See trending topics and hashtags
  • Customise your feed
  • Schedule posts
  • Create lists
  • Edit posts
  • Pin posts
  • Cross-post
  • Mute words
  • Create polls
  • Schedule posts

The lack of these features has led to one commentator describing Threads as “a puzzle with some pieces missing”, something that is “preventing this new app from truly taking flight and becoming a viable alternative to platforms like Twitter.”

After all, where’s the incentive to use a platform that offers a fraction of its’ competitors’ features? Only by introducing these will more people consider leaving the likes of X for good.

Introduce new features

As well as implementing customary features, another way Threads can win back users is by further differentiating itself from X and other competitors through unique additions. For instance, it could:

  • Embrace AI – The rise of ChatGPT has shown just how powerful artificial intelligence (AI) can be, and Threads can harness its power to significantly improve the platform.

    Zuckerberg is already looking at doing so via AI-enabled chatbots that offer users new search functions and provide recommendations. Another potential avenue is offering the opportunity to generate AI-powered content in Threads itself. As one writer puts it, such a move will have the ability to “unearth untapped wells of creativity and revolutionise the intricate dynamics of online engagement.”

  • Offer strong content moderation – One of the biggest issues with X is its under-regulation of content, something that has led to a rise in issues like hate speech. Threads could take a leaf out of LinkedIn’s book and strengthen content moderation through dedicated algorithm updates.

    For example, LinkedIn now prioritises content from first-degree contacts and thought leadership posts after criticism that homepage content was often ‘irrelevant and non-professional’ in nature. By offering similar updates itself, something the platform currently isn’t doing, Threads can further differentiate itself from X and win back users.

Help brands advertise

Threads also need to appeal to brands to forge a path to success. One of the main drawbacks of the platform is its lack of an advertising option for brands. While companies can use Threads to create content and interact with customers, being unable to advertise products or services like you can on the likes of X puts a ceiling on Threads’ ability to attract brands to the site.

Even Instagram’s branded content tools aren’t available on the platform. Introducing this at least would allow brands to begin experimenting with paid promotion.

At the time of writing, it appears that Meta has no intention of introducing ads, with a company source telling US news website Axios that it wouldn’t do so “until its user base reaches a critical mass.” While this stance is understandable, like with inaction elsewhere, Threads runs the risk of any change to the policy being too little, too late if it waits too long.

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