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What Happened When 15 of Twitter’s Top Celebrities Joined Threads

What Happened When 15 of Twitter’s Top Celebrities Joined Threads

Threads, the new social app from Meta, had a fast start this month when it racked up 100 million downloads in less than a week. With so much momentum, the app seemed well on its way to dethroning Twitter.

But rapid downloads do not necessarily translate to long-term success. Now the question is whether Threads has staying power.

So we embarked on an experiment. We compiled a list of 15 of some of the most-followed celebrities and high-profile figures on Twitter who joined Threads, including Katy Perry, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Britney Spears, Shakira and Oprah Winfrey. Then we compared their activity on Twitter with their activity on Threads every day since July 5, when Threads was released. We also looked at what they did on Instagram, which is owned by Meta and developed Threads.

The idea was to see which social platform kept the celebrities — who either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment — the most active. What we found is just an early snapshot, but it may provide some clues to where Threads is headed.

Ms. DeGeneres, who joined Twitter in 2008, had not tweeted since late April. When Threads rolled out, she was among the first 3,000 people to download the app.

“Welcome to Gay Twitter!” she posted on Threads on July 5. Her message quickly garnered over 7,000 replies.

Of the 15 celebrities we followed, Ms. DeGeneres was one of three who had stopped posting on Twitter in recent months and became active on Threads. The other two were Selena Gomez, who hadn’t tweeted since late May, and Ms. Winfrey, who hadn’t posted on Twitter since January. Ms. Gomez used Threads to say “hi” to her fans, while Ms. Winfrey said she was on Threads to promote a musical remake of the film “The Color Purple,” which she produced.

Other celebrities, such as Demi Lovato, began posting more regularly on Threads than on Twitter. In the first week of Threads’ release, Ms. Lovato posted six times on Threads and shared two replies to one of her posts, but posted just once on Twitter to promote the rock version of her hit song “Sorry Not Sorry.”

Ms. Lovato used Threads to engage with her fans, asking them for music recommendations and thread puns, even as her followers on the app were a small fraction of what she had accumulated on Twitter. As of Wednesday, she had two million followers on Threads and 53 million on Twitter.

Of the celebrities we followed, Wiz Khalifa was the most active on Threads by far, publishing original posts and sharing other people’s messages and replies.

The rapper, whose real name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz, posted an average of 38 times a day on Threads in the first two weeks of the app’s release, while averaging five posts a day on Twitter.

His Threads posts generally mixed text, photos and videos with nuggets about his personal life. “Proudly bringing the weed to threads,” he wrote in his first post on July 5, accompanied by a short video of him lighting a joint.

But the rapper’s activity on Threads gradually declined. He replied to over 100 posts — mostly to people who had responded to his own posts — the first week after Threads was launched. That number dropped in the second week, coupled with fewer original posts and shares.

Starting on July 16, he ramped up on Twitter, sometimes posting more than 10 times a day. He is still more active on Threads, but has begun publishing similar content on both platforms.

Is there a difference between Threads and Twitter? Not if you ask Jimmy Fallon, Shakira or the Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

Over the last three weeks, they were among the celebrities who published identical or virtually identical posts on Twitter and Threads. That showed they may not be making a distinction between the platforms and are using both as broadcast mechanisms.

On July 12, for instance, Mr. Fallon retweeted congratulations to “That’s My Jam,” a game show he hosts, for an Emmy Award nomination. He published the same message on Threads, though without the hashtags he used on his Twitter post. He has since not posted on Twitter or Threads.

From July 6 through July 13, Shakira posted a series of pictures to Threads, including of a Fendi fashion show, a picture of herself and the songwriter David Stewart, and photos of herself in London — all of which she also put on Twitter with the same captions.

Mr. Khan shared posters of his upcoming movie “Jawan” to Twitter, Threads and Instagram with the same captions. But he appeared to have a slight preference for Twitter: On July 13, he used the “AskSRK” hashtag on the platform for fans to ask him questions about the movie.

Of the 15 celebrities we tracked who joined Threads, four — Ms. Perry, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Miley Cyrus — had not posted on the new app.

And like Mr. Khalifa, others appeared to lose some of their initial enthusiasm for Threads. Shakira, after being active on Threads during the app’s first week, had not posted on it since July 13. Ms. DeGeneres, who posted six times during her first week on Threads, had done so only once in the past week.

Their falling engagement was not unusual. The average time that users spent on Threads was 3.3 minutes a day as of Monday, down from 19 minutes as of July 6, according to data from Sensor Tower, a market intelligence firm. In contrast, users spent an average of 60 minutes a day on Instagram and 29.3 minutes on Twitter, according to Sensor Tower.

A Meta spokeswoman declined to comment. On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, said in an earnings call that Threads had exceeded Meta’s expectations and that it was working on making fast improvements to the app and improving retention. He said he did not expect to make money from Threads for at least a few years until the company got the user experience right.

Twitter, which its owner, Elon Musk, is renaming X, did not respond to a request for comment.

Instagram was the most popular with more than half of the celebrities we followed over the past three weeks, based on the number of days they were active on each platform. (We excluded Instagram Stories that they posted from our tally since those can be ephemeral.)

Ms. Kardashian was on Instagram for 16 days during that period, compared with none on Threads and three on Twitter. Her activity in that time consisted of 19 Instagram posts and 16 tweets.

Ms. Spears was on Instagram for 14 days, compared with three on Threads and three on Twitter. She posted 35 times on Instagram, versus fives times each on Threads and Twitter.

But in a sign of the tempestuous relationship that people can have with social media, the singer briefly deactivated her Instagram account on Saturday — which also turned off her Threads account, since both are connected — before reactivating it.

Mike Isaac contributed reporting.

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