Instagram Threads users had been clamoring for a fully functional web version of the Meta-owned Twitter alternative since the app’s July debut. But last week’s release of the anticipated web app on August 22 appears to have little significant impact on Threads’ usage, new data indicates. In the U.S., Threads’ website traffic jumped up by 20% over the past week (through Monday) compared with the week prior, but it’s not clear that this could be attributed to an influx of users, rather than to switchers moving from the native mobile app to the web.
Worldwide, the traffic bump from the web app launch was only 3%.
The data comes from digital intelligence firm Similarweb, which has been tracking Threads’ adoption and the subsequent tapering off in usage following the app’s blowout launch, which saw it becoming the fastest app ever to reach 100 million users — a milestone it hit in just five days.
But since that time, Threads has seen traffic sink. Mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower reported earlier this month that Threads’ daily active users had dropped 82% since launch, and there were now just 8 million users accessing the app daily. The launch of the web app was a chance for Threads to reverse this trend, as users had said they wanted a way to use the service more easily from their desktop.
But it seems the web launch was largely catering to Threads’ existing audience. Similarweb says the week-over-week gain in Threads website visitors in the U.S. (+133,400) was larger than the drop in active app users (-82,400), but it doesn’t have a way of determining the overlap between these two figures. However, it speculates this could indicate some current Threads users were likely moving from the app to the web.
In addition, its Android data indicates Threads’ daily active users were down 15% worldwide and 2.4% in the U.S., during the same week-over-week comparison. This also suggests that Threads’ web launch simply saw users switching from app to web, but didn’t necessarily bring in new users or see lapsed users returning.
Today, Threads announced it’s testing search in Australia and New Zealand — another in-demand feature that would make the app more useful when compared with X (formerly Twitter).
But even search may not be enough to lure users back to Threads or see it gain new ones.
The issues around Threads adoption demonstrate the hold that X still has on the text-first social networking ecosystem. Despite X’s many fumbles under Elon Musk, the app continues to offer a place where news breaks and trends are easily spotted — something that’s more difficult to find on a competitor like Threads without key features like search, hashtags and trends. These are what give X the feel of a global conversation hub and a real-time news network, and aren’t as easy to replicate as simply building similar tools elsewhere.
For Threads to work, it also has to court the newsmakers and breakers to its platform, not just celebs you can already follow on Instagram. And so far, many of X’s active users have either remained on the app or scattered elsewhere to networks like Bluesky and Mastodon, or perhaps smaller rivals like T2, Spill, Post and others. Completely leaving X has seemingly proven difficult for longtime users, whose social connections still remain on the platform. That means Threads will have to do more than build the features users want in an X competitor, it will need to find a way to convince people to actually make the switch and then stick with it.