Within two days of its launch, Meta’s new Twitter rival, Threads, became one of the most rapidly downloaded apps ever, amassing more than 70 million users. Content creators with massive followings are joining the text-based app in droves, largely because they can choose to retain all their Instagram followers (if they’re already on the platform) and their blue verification ticks rather than having to start from scratch.
Haley Kalil, a content creator with 1.7 million followers on Instagram and 2.7 million subscribers on YouTube, was one of the first to join the platform, still in its beta version, along with celebrities like Shakira and a few Meta employees. For her, the lure of porting over all her followers with a few taps was too compelling to resist—eeven though she’s wary of needing to post to yet another app.
“Obviously, as a content creator, this is another time sucking for me. I haven’t really gotten much sleep for the last day and a half because I’ve been messing around on Threads,” Kalil told Forbes.
It’s even attracting creators who primarily post images or videos, not text. Kalil, who creates fashion, lifestyle, and comedy videos, said she never used Twitter because her mostly Gen Z audience didn’t use the app. “I think Threads is like Gen Z’s takeover of Twitter. It’s really fun to watch.”
Creators are still waiting to see whether Threads will face a fate similar to other ephemeral apps like voice-based social network Clubhouse and TikTok’s sister app Lemon8, on which creators started posting new and repurposed content only to later realize that the platforms weren’t mature enough and had lost steam. They are also concerned about the additional effort of producing content and engaging followers through a new medium. “Anyone else half very excited and half exhausted by the thought of managing yet another social media platform?” Catarina Mello, a travel content creator with 547,000 followers on Instagram, posted on Threads.
“There’s a lot of time spent researching, understanding what conversations are going on, and just being a part of those conversations, which is not necessarily creating the content or actually writing up your post,” Mello told Forbes.
“As a content creator, this is another time sucking for me.”
Haley Kalil, comedy content creator
The 32-year-old influencer says that Threads, which currently doesn’t run ads or have any way for creators to monetize, runs the risk of directing users’ attention away from Instagram and “cannibalizing” a primary revenue-generating platform. “I’ve noticed a drop in my engagement numbers on Instagram because a lot of people are using Threads,” she said.
Creators who don’t plan on making the move to Threads could also be impacted. As people have a finite amount of time to spare on social media, more time on Threads could mean less time on Instagram, Mello said. “The past day and a half, it’s been totally quiet on Instagram, and I’ve been hearing from other creators as well, and they’re wondering if it’s even worth posting here now.”
Touted as a Twitter killer, Threads’ user interface is strikingly similar to Twitter, apart from missing features like a trending topics tab, a feature to direct message users, and hashtags. It’s one of a series of social media networks that have positioned themselves as a better alternative to Twitter, including Bluesky and Mastodon. While these apps have been growing, they are still struggling to catch on. Bluesky has just reached its first million installs since launching in February, and active users on the decentralized network Mastodon have fallen by more than a million to about a million active users.
Threads, though, may pose a greater threat. Its explosive growth—70 million in less than two days, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri announced on Threads Friday—iis in part due to users not needing to create a separate account, username, or profile on Instagram.
“The energy I was getting was very much like you’re on a giant group chat and everyone’s excited to meet everyone.”
Musk is clearly feeling the heat. In an inflammatory letter written by his attorney, Alex Spiro, Twitter threatened to sue Meta for allegedly stealing trade secrets and intellectual property by building a copycat app using “dozens” of former Twitter employees (Musk laid off some 6,000 people at Twitter after taking over the company). In response, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone posted a thread saying, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee—tthat’s just not a thing.”
For some content creators, Twitter was never a place where they felt comfortable sharing their thoughts. Chelsea Davis, a luxury travel and food content creator, says she never used Twitter because it was too cluttered. “There were just too many chefs in the kitchen. A lot of people thought they were great leaders and thinkers. And I just kind of got overwhelmed by the app,” Davis tells Forbes. She is looking forward to using Threads, which allows users to post vertical photos, a feature that Instagram lacks.
Video creators, who typically post Reels, YouTube videos, and TikToks, have joined Threads in the hopes that the written format will become a new way to interact with their followers on a one-to-one basis and discover different types of audiences. Adam Waheed, who makes comedy videos for his 5 million followers on Instagram and 12.8 million subscribers on Youtube, says he plans to write short and funny punchlines for his newly gained 340,000 followers on Threads.
“This feels like a little bit more of an open conversation where people can really share their opinions,” says Waheed, who was the 242nd person to join Threads, according to a notification and a badge he got from Instagram.
While Instagram is perceived as a platform for aesthetic photos, fun and laid-back videos, and “being pretty and perfect,” travel creator Jessica Ufuoma says she, like other creators, plans to use Threads to reveal a more authentic side of her personality. But she’s concerned that the text-first format could invite creators to speak their minds more freely, which could get them into trouble. “A lot of creators have started to strategize on how they’re showing up,” said Ufuoma, who has 127,000 followers on Instagram and now 10,000 on Threads. “As long as you’re on the internet, you can’t be 100 percent fully authentic.”
“I’ve noticed a drop in my engagement numbers on Instagram because a lot of people are using Threads.”
Catarina Mello, luxury travel content creator
Other creators have questions about the algorithm that powers the Threads feed. Inga Lam, a food YouTuber with 423,000 subscribers, was initially excited about using Threads. “I feel like the energy I was getting was very much like you’re on a giant group chat and everyone’s excited to meet everyone,” Lam says.
But as she spent more time on the app, she found her feed populated by a mixture of familiar faces and random posts from strangers with whom she had never interacted before. “Nobody has figured [the algorithm] out yet. Everyone’s anticipating something to go wrong,” she says.
In an email response about Thread’s algorithm to Forbes, Meta said that the algorithm that powers Threads recommends posts from accounts that a user follows if they meet Meta’s community guidelines. Creators who have large followings on Instagram, joined Threads early, and shared original content will get more exposure on the Threads feed.
The ease of getting started on Threads also highlights Meta’s dominance in social media. “It is scary that one platform owns a bunch of mini platforms underneath,” said Gabe Erwin, who creates comedy reaction videos on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok for 6.7 million combined followers. But ultimately, he appreciated the ability to move between Instagram and Threads. “I like the idea of immediate click-throughs and that they just immediately designated that connectability to each other,” Erwin said.
While it’s still early days for Threads, content creators are waiting to see whether the app will continue to stay popular after its initial buzz. “I’d be curious to see what happens; as you know, things develop, and maybe some drama happens. I’m curious to see how it’ll be handled,” Waheed says.