Despite Usage Declines, X Remains ‘stickier’ Than First Thought


Despite concerns over declining usage, the microblogging app X, formerly known as Twitter, appears to have a stronger hold on the market than previously thought. Recent data from research firm Sensor Tower revealed that X’s daily active users dropped by 16% in September, with the average time spent per user also falling by 2% in the third quarter of the year. However, another firm disputes these findings, suggesting that the time spent by U.S. daily active users on X has actually been increasing and that the usage by X’s power users remains relatively stable.

Key Takeaway

Despite declining usage, X’s hold on the microblogging market appears to be stronger than initially anticipated. While daily active users have decreased and overall usage is showing signs of decline, X’s engagement with power users and the retention of its user base indicates that the app still possesses a significant level of stickiness. Additionally, rival apps like Threads have not been able to fully sway X users, further contributing to X’s resilience. Overall, X’s ability to retain its users and withstand competition showcases its enduring appeal in the microblogging landscape.

X’s Usage Declines: A Closer Look

Data from Similarweb, another research firm, also indicates a decline in X’s traffic and monthly active users. App intelligence provider Apptopia supports this claim, highlighting that the downward trend in daily active users began in May, coinciding with the rebranding of the app to X in July. However, Apptopia proposes that the decrease in daily active users may be attributed to the absence of the Twitter brand name from app stores rather than a loss of long-time Twitter/X users. Additionally, the launch of Instagram Threads, which advertised on the term “Twitter,” further complicated the situation.

Competing with Threads and Retaining Users

Contrary to expectations, Threads, introduced as a rival to X, has not significantly wooed X users away. Apptopia’s estimates indicate that only 10% of X users tried out Instagram’s rival app, even a month after its launch, and this figure dropped to just 5% shortly after. Furthermore, when Threads did manage to attract X users, X’s daily active users still spent more time on X than on Threads.

The initial competition between the two apps can be observed by the fact that Threads users who also used X spent 23.8 minutes on Threads and 31.1 minutes on X. However, as of September, these numbers have shifted, with users spending a mere 3.7 minutes on Threads compared to 16.9 minutes on X. This indicates that X is retaining its hold on users, despite Threads approaching 100 million monthly active users.

X’s Power Users and their Engagement

X’s power users, the individuals who rank in the top decile of usage, continue to be highly engaged with the app. Data from Apptopia reveals that this group is responsible for 72.4% of the total time spent among X users in the U.S., just slightly down from 73.1% at the beginning of 2022. In terms of daily usage, U.S. daily active users spent an average of 18.8 minutes on Twitter/X in January 2022, which increased to 19.8 minutes when Threads launched in July, and further grew to 20.6 minutes as of September 2023.

The “Stickiness” Factor and X’s Competitors

Despite witnessing some declines, X’s “stickiness” has already impacted would-be rivals. A startup called Pebble, formerly known as T2, attempted to mimic Twitter’s features but recently announced its closure, citing the strong durability of X’s network effect and the competitive landscape filled with Twitter clones. While Threads may still have a chance to compete due to its integration with Instagram and the backing of Meta, other X rivals such as Spill, Spoutible, Bluesky, and Mastodon may struggle to convince X users to fully transition to their platforms.

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