Why Clubhouse competitors are following suit in leveraging social audio

What is social audio?

Social audio may be a relatively new term, but it may soon become commonly used as social media giants like Facebook and LinkedIn scramble to follow Clubhouse’s success.

In simplistic terms; social audio is live, voice-based social networking. A concept similar to podcasting but it offers so much more! For one, it removes the classroom barrier whereby the teacher speaks and the class listens. With social audio, the audience are able to join in and contribute.

The hype

Unlike scrolling through countless tweets or posts, where it’s not always easy to decode messages and emotion, audio goes a step further.  It combines all that we love about social media without the risks of messages getting lost or misunderstood or the pressures that video or image formats add; such as what you are wearing, how good your hair looks etc. This makes social audio the ‘Goldilocks medium.’ That is; it’s not too much or too little but just right.

Clubhouse’s rapid success

Social audio has already taken the world by storm and to date, the Clubhouse app has been at the forefront of this new phenomenon. The app reportedly reached 8 million downloads worldwide as of February 2021, growing from 3.5 million in the same month. The vast growth in popularity is likely to have been influenced by high profile speakers such as Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg joining.

There hasn’t been something like Clubhouse in a while, and competitors have been noticing. For starters, the app is really easy to use, with a simple and clean UI. Upon joining, you instantly have access to and are able to participate in conversations of your choice – with friends, colleagues and thought leaders alike. But of course, first you need an invite from an existing user. This strategy creates exclusivity and interest that some of the big players just don’t have.  

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Competitors following in Clubhouse’s footsteps

It’s easy to see why competitors like Facebook, Spotify, LinkedIn and Spotify (to name a few) are following in Clubhouse’s footsteps. The social audio buzz doesn’t seem like it will be fading away anytime soon.

Amongst the long list of Clubhouse’s competitors is Twitter. In the last quarter of 2020, Twitter announced that it had been working on an audio-only chatroom feature named ‘Spaces’ due to be launched in April 2021. Despite growing concerns surrounding monitoring conversations to ensure that they adhere with the platform’s terms, the speed at which it has been able to develop and test this new feature is commendable.

Facebook has followed suit with its take on a similar feature called Hotline which allows for both audio and video formats, with the ability to record sessions. Spotify, who have previously invested huge sums in podcasting, have announced the acquisition of a live, audio-only app called Locker Room, which will focus on conversations surrounding music, culture and sport.

Discord, Slack and Reddit are also rumoured to be following suite, meaning social audio may be here to stay.

The future of social audio

Audio-only social networking is still a relatively new concept and only time will tell whether there is a future for the likes of Clubhouse. There are questions as to whether the overnight success of these platforms will fade away as the outside world re-opens and people are able network and hold conferences in person again. One thing that is clear is that the growth for said platforms doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

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