Microblogging mobile apps − such as X (formerly Twitter) and Meta-owned Threads − are expected to lose millions of users in 2024, as more consumers flock to platforms such as TikTok for news and entertainment.
This is according to the latest report from research consultancy Data.ai, formerly known as App Annie, titled: “Five Mobile Predictions for 2024”. The report provides an analysis of the trends shaping the mobile market and predictions for the year ahead.
In the ever-evolving realm of mobile apps, 2024 promises to be a transformative year, it states. From the changing dynamics of social media monetisation, to the meteoric rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI), companies are effectively planning for shifting patterns and evolving trends.
This, as the year ahead is forecast to see consumers demand authenticity, video-first content and more control of their social media experiences, it notes.
“Microblogging apps will face a further decline in 2024 − from convergence of competitors and usage shifts,” says Lexi Sydow, head of insights at Data.ai.
“X alone is set to see daily active users drop to 250 million, down 53 million from when Elon Musk’s acquisition began in April 2022, and down 66 million from its peak in July 2022.
“It’s not just X, but the greater microblogging space: Threads is poised to see its peak day remain 7 July 2023 at 61 million daily active users, as active users stabilised to around 20 million in November 2023.”
According to Statista, as of September 2023, X had 415.3 million global users.
Threads reached over 100 million sign-ups, only five days after its launch in July, according to Business of Apps.
While platforms like X are likely to maintain a core niche of users, the overall trends show consumers are swapping out text-based social networking apps for photo- and video-first platforms, notes Data.ai.
“Formerly a first port of call for news, X has seen the share of users seeking news drop from 59% to 53%. Video-first news is now king,” says Data.ai.
Discussing the local landscape, Brent Janse Van Vuuren, MD of South African digital marketing agency Social Media 101, says considering the global decline in microblogging platforms' user base, the trend might also be reflected in SA.
“Factors contributing to this potential shift include changing preferences towards visual content – the rising popularity of video-first platforms like TikTok, which are drawing users away from traditional text-based platforms,” explains Van Vuuren.
“Management and image challenges – the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk and subsequent management changes have impacted its public perception, possibly influencing user trust and engagement.”
According to Van Vuuren, video-first news platforms like TikTok are becoming more popular for news consumption – a domain where X previously had stronger engagement.
Van Vuuren believes the social media landscape is undergoing a significant shift, with platforms like TikTok gaining ground in areas traditionally dominated by micro-blogging sites.
However, he cautions that each microblogging platform serves distinct user needs and interests, and as a result, we are likely to see diversification in platform usage rather than direct replacement.
While Data.ai 's report suggests a potential decline in user numbers for X and Meta's Threads, it's essential to recognise the unique value propositions these platforms offer, Van Vuuren points out.
“Although there's a significant trend towards video content, evidenced by the rise of platforms like TikTok, it doesn't necessarily negate the relevance of microblogging. Additionally, platforms like Threads are continuously rolling out new updates, demonstrating Meta's commitment to evolving and improving the platform.
“Social media platforms expected to garner more growth next year include TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn and those integrating generative AI.”