According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter’s traffic has had a noticeable impact as Meta’s Threads gained significant popularity, surpassing 100 million sign-ups in just five days. Mark Zuckerberg proudly announced this achievement yesterday. The shift in interest toward Threads has already caused a slight decrease in Twitter’s traffic, as data indicates. Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince’s tweet went viral, where he shared a chart illustrating declining traffic of Twitter compared to other popular websites. The decline in Twitter’s traffic has been evident since January, with a continuous decrease compared to its counterparts.
During the initial two days of Threads being available, SimilarWeb, a web analytics firm, reported a 5 percent drop in Twitter’s traffic compared to the corresponding two days of the previous week. Furthermore, when comparing the traffic to last year’s period, Twitter experienced an 11 percent decline. David Carr, a SimilarWeb senior insights manager, informed CNN, “We’ve been reporting for a while that Twitter is down compared with last year. But Threads seems to be taking a bigger bite out of it.”
While the popularity of Threads continued to soar, Twitter executives Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino introduced a new metric for measuring user engagement, which they found more encouraging than the somewhat disappointing traffic reports.
Impact of the New Metric on Twitter’s Business and Advertisers
Yaccarino took to Twitter to express her enthusiasm, saying, “Don’t want to leave you hanging by a thread… but Twitter, you really outdid yourselves! Last week we had our largest usage day since February.” In response, Musk clarified what Yaccarino meant by “usage” in her tweet. He stated, “Cumulative user-seconds per day of phone screen time, as reported by iOS & Android, is hardest to game. “I think we may hit an all-time record this week.”
While there was ongoing debate among Twitter users about the significance of this new metric, with some even claiming it was impossible to track, the T(w)itter Daily account explained “why Elon changed Twitter’s metrics” from monthly daily active users (mDAU) to user-seconds per day.
According to T(w)itter Daily, the previous mDAU metric included bots and individuals who received Twitter notifications on their phones but didn’t open the app. On the other hand, the new metric of user seconds per day is much more difficult to manipulate, as T(w)itter Daily claims.
The account further asserted that Twitter 2.0 data scientists had confirmed the ability to track people’s time using the Twitter app on iOS and Android, despite some individuals suggesting otherwise.
Elon Musk responded to T(w) sitter Daily’s thread, acknowledging that bots could still manipulate the new metric through humans with multiple phones. However, he emphasized that this method is over 100 times more expensive than bots.
Currently, CNN has reported that Threads is surpassing Twitter in terms of audience size at a rapid pace. Both SimilarWeb and Cloudflare informed CNN that the launch of Threads has accelerated the downward trend in Twitter’s traffic, which poses a clear risk to the platform’s business.
Twitter’s Response and User Experience Issues
According to T(w)itter Daily, they claimed that Twitter user activity has increased despite the launch of Threads and Twitter’s decision to limit tweet rates. Their reasoning is based on the notion that “all publicity is good publicity.” By applying this logic, reports comparing Threads’ success to Twitter’s decline, including the one mentioned in the article (which provides links to multiple tweets), ultimately redirect Twitter users back to the platform. It should be noted that Ars reached out to both Meta and Twitter for comment, but no immediate response was received.
Musk and Yaccarino have seemingly dismissed Threads as a non-threat to Twitter’s business, but users have noticed a defensive stance from Twitter. Twitter may be limiting users from discovering Threads links on the platform.
The Verge highlighted the issue by pointing out that searching for “threads.net” on Twitter results in a disorganized list of users with Threads in their display names but no links to Threads. When narrowing the search using the “url:” search operator and specifying the “threads.net” URL, such as with the search term “url:threads.net,” no results are currently returned, as confirmed by Ars.
Twitter has not officially confirmed intentional restrictions on Threads links in search. However, it seems plausible, considering Musk’s temporary restriction of Substack links on the platform due to concerns about Substack’s app, Notes, being too similar to Twitter. Musk has also threatened to sue Meta, claiming Threads is a copycat.
Users can employ a workaround to discover Threads links on Twitter, as found by The Verge. By adjusting the search operator formatting and searching for “url:’threads net'” instead of “url:threads.net,” relevant search results appear.
Comparing Engagement Levels: Threads vs. Twitter
It remains uncertain whether all the individuals who signed up for Threads will ultimately become active and engaged users.
Two days after the launch of Threads, The Verge reported internal data indicating that the approximately 30 million users had collectively made over 95 million posts and shared 190 million likes. While this level of engagement is modest, it falls short of Twitter’s extensive levels of engagement. In 2022, Twitter users were estimated to tweet 500 million times per day, as reported by marketing consultant David Sayce.
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has clarified that Threads is not intended to replace Twitter but instead aims to create a public space for communities on Instagram that have not fully embraced Twitter, as well as for Twitter communities and others seeking a less hostile environment for discussions, without replicating all aspects of Twitter.
Meta, the parent company of Instagram, seeks to attract only a portion of Twitter’s user base while establishing a more advertiser-friendly alternative by shaping Threads into a platform that discourages divisive political and news-related content.
From Mosseri’s perspective, Twitter and Threads will likely coexist and compete with each other, as well as other platforms, in their efforts to enhance user engagement and attract advertising revenue. This future vision suggests that users must decide which platform aligns better with their needs or if they require both media for different purposes. Some users may continue to turn to Twitter for news updates, while Threads could become their preferred platform for hosting in-depth discussions that are easily discoverable.