Hello Threads, the ‘best cross promotion ever’

By John Koetsier July 7, 2023

Meta’s new social platform Threads is almost literally blowing up, adding tens of millions of users and hitting 70 million in just 2 days, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It helps when you can start with a heavily engaged userbase of over a billion people in Instagram (new boss, meet the old boss) but even the most cynical Facebook critic would have a hard time denying that SOMETHING BIG is happening here.

What, exactly?

In a word, a shakeup.

In a phrase, a disturbance in the force.

Or, in the eyes of Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv, Threads is “the best cross promotion ever.” (I think he’s probably right: 0 to 70 million in 2 days is … profoundly impressive.)

threads growth

Social media has been seriously stable and boring for the better part of a decade. Facebook won in an era of MySpace and Friendster, then bought Instagram and WhatsApp. Twitter decided social wasn’t really its jam and moved to the News category in the App Store. Pinterest blossomed and flourished, but never really exploded into the billion-user club.

What about TikTok, I hear you saying?


TikTok is the success story of the past 5 years, growing from 85 million users in 2018 to almost 1.7 billion in 2023, from basically $0 in revenue in 2017 to almost $3 billion in the last quarter of 2022 alone and $9.4 billion for the entire year. But it’s not really social media. TikTok owner ByteDance has slotted it squarely in the Entertainment category on the App Store and — believe it or not — the “Video Players & Editors” category on Google Play. IM-so-very-HO this isn’t just a find-a-smaller-category-to-dominate app store optimization strategy as per the critique of Twitter when it switched: this is generally where it fits.

Massive changes in Twitter personnel, policies, and product have opened the door for Twitter competitors. But to owner Elon Musk’s benefit, none of them have really taken off.

  • Mastodon is too hard (and too fragmented)
  • Post is too limited
  • Bluesky is too hard to get into
  • Spill is too new

Threads, on the other hand, comes just after Twitter reduced consumption of its designed-to-be-consumed product in the name of reducing data scraping and rides the upswell of anti-Twitter sentiment from disillusioned Tweeps. It’s got an afterburner of Instagram users jumping on board. It offers and insta-friend graph, making Threads interesting and populated from day 1. It features an algorithmic feed that surfaces viral content even if your peeps aren’t Threading yet.

And it’s delightfully simple and ad-free, reminiscent of an earlier, more innocent era of social media.

In other words, Threads is that perfect creation every entrepreneur dreams of: the right product at the right time for a very large and perfectly-primed population of people.

Thing will certainly change over time. Threads will get ads, Threads will add features, Threads will have problems, Threads won’t grow forever, and it remains to be seen if the Instagram generation are going to keep using Threads after day 1. Will they engage in a primarily textual way? Will they use what is essentially the Meta equivalent of a text-based news, events, and updates Twitter?

There’s lots to learn over the next week and months.

But what marketers are seeing right now is very likely the emergence of an additional platform that they’ll eventually be able to target users on, run ads on, and grow their products. And it’s one that — thanks both to Meta’s knowledge of people on its platform and to its decision to kick off Threads with a very large privacy footprint — will offer serious segmentation capability.

Threads’ growth isn’t that remarkable in at least one sense, as someone reminded me on my account: when McDonalds added pizza in the late 1980s, it instantly became the worlds largest pizza chain, though probably not by volume of sales.

Sure: size begets size.

The next months and years will tell if Threads has staying power, and can potentially grow into yet another billion-user social platform for Meta.

Oh and by the way, in an era of change and upheaval (yes, SKAN, yes, Privacy Sandbox) … here’s just a little more. This one, however, comes with a hefty dose of opportunity.

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