Brandon Doerrer
Jul 21, 2023

How brands like Wendy’s, Maybelline and Duolingo are navigating Threads

Daily active users on Meta’s new Twitter clone dropped by half last week, but brands are still eager to find success on the new platform.

Credit: Wendy's/Threads
Credit: Wendy's/Threads

The temperature has cooled on Meta’s Twitter rival, Threads, two weeks after its blockbuster launch.

Threads dominated headlines as it reached over 100 million sign ups in just five days. On its most active day, July 7, Threads had more than 49 million global daily active users on Android, according to web analytics company SimilarWeb. On the same day, Twitter had 109 million active Android users.

One week later, Threads appears to have lost about half of its users, registering just under 24 million daily active users on July 14. In the past nine days, its total user base has grown to 115 million and has stayed relatively stable, growing at a rate of about one million per day for the past week.

On Monday, Mark Zuckerberg posted on Threads that tens of millions of users are returning to the app daily.

Despite the slowdown, social media experts aren’t worried about the app’s trajectory. In fact, they told Campaign US that they expected active users to decline and then eventually plateau.

“Working in social and looking across the landscape, they all ebb and flow,” said Kristin Tormey, global director of social media and digital engagement at Wendy’s. “If we’re too focused on [daily user growth], we’re dead in the water.”

Instead, as the initial hype around Threads lulls, Wendy’s is taking time to develop its KPIs and expectations for the platform. 

For now, the brand is taking what Tomey calls an “old-school mentality” in looking at metrics such as how many people are following the brand – things it doesn’t necessarily track on more mature platforms.

“We don’t have this massive suite of metrics that we can pull from to prove our worth and why we’re on this platform,” she said.

However, Wendy’s – and other brands and experts – are already seeing some idiosyncrasies on the platform – and finding it a safer place to interact than Twitter. 

Simplicity is king

As it experiments on Threads, Wendy’s has noted that its most successful posts aren’t necessarily going viral, but are instead attracting users to the brand’s profile and in turn, increasing traffic across other posts – “which doesn’t happen on every platform,” she said.

The Wendy’s post users have engaged with the most has been a simple jab at a competitor: “mid donald,” it reads, with almost 7,700 replies and 65,000 likes, as of Wednesday. 

On Threads, simplicity is king, especially because it has a small active user base compared to other platforms, said Geoff Gates, creative director of social strategy and content at Boathouse and former associate director of social and content for the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I think we get in our own way a lot of the time by overthinking things as companies,” he said. “At the Lakers…our go-to strategy late in the game, if it was close and someone on our team hit a big shot, we would tweet their name, that was it. That always outperformed all of our high-budget videos.”

Gates has seen success with similar strategies on Threads. For instance, a post from Duolingo, which has 28,000 followers on Threads compared to 704,000 on Twitter, that says “smash or pass?” accompanied by a photo of Big Bird from Sesame Street, was one of its most engaged-with posts from the brand to-date, with over 3,000 replies and 11,000 likes as of Wednesday.

Duolingo did not reply to a request for comment.

Brands haven’t yet tapped into the full potential of the Threads audience, according to Tom Hyde, VP of strategy at Movers+Shakers. He is looking to find those audiences on Threads for its clients, such as E.l.f. Cosmetics, which has 262,000 followers on the platform.

“For most brands and creators, there’s still a huge audience on Threads already that they’re not reaching yet,” he said. “That presents itself as a great opportunity.”

A less toxic option

While brands explore and experiment with new territory on Threads, they are finding a less toxic environment than Twitter. 

Many brands have opted to copy and paste some of their posts on both Twitter and Threads, due to the similarities of the platforms. But they’re seeing very different results and conversations emerge on each. 

Maybelline, one of the first brands to join Threads, has adopted this strategy. The makeup brand is currently embroiled in controversy with conservatives over featuring Ryan Vita, a bearded beauty creator, in its ads. As a result, many of its tweets in the past week have been bombarded with “go woke, go broke” rhetoric. 

Meanwhile, on Threads, those same posts have comparatively supportive replies.

Maybelline has 449,000 followers on Threads and around 720,000 followers on Twitter, as of Wednesday.

Maybelline did not respond to questions in time for publication.

Since Threads’ launch, Wendy’s has made just two tweets compared to dozens of Threads posts. Wendy’s has almost 268,000 Threads followers compared to 3.8 million followers on Twitter.

According to Gates, who is pitching Threads’ to three of Boathouse’s clients, Threads’ success depends, in part, on Twitter’s ability to clean up the platform under the ownership of Elon Musk.

“If Twitter doesn’t step up and flounders, brands will have to pay much more attention to Threads because that will be the only place to go,” he said. “If Twitter steps up…then Threads may have a bit more of a difficult time continuing on their success.”

Campaign US

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