Launched in Spring 2020, the Clubhouse audio social network is on everyone’s lips. The new invitation-only app is one of the latest social media sensations. Although its success was propelled by the context of containment, it was only with the arrival of personalities on the platform and its censorship in China that it jumped in notoriety.
That, along with Twitter Spaces (which launched soon after) has created a whole new genre of apps. It’s very likely that within the near future, we are going to see a whole new bunch of apps that are centered primarily on this premise.
New Genre Podcast
Criticized as an elite club by some in its infancy and adored by others, the audio application is not only exclusive to the Apple ecosystem, but it also works by summons. To have access to it, you must first have an existing user of the platform give you the keystone.
And the sponsorship cannot be done indefinitely! Each new user is entitled to two invitations to distribute to his entourage. When you (finally) join the app, you can choose your favorite topics. c. Some are public, others private. Up to 5k people can join a conversation simultaneously!
No messages, no hashtags, no visual content: all of this app created by Paul Davison (creator of the Highlight app) and Rohan Seth (ex-Google engineer) relies on the timbre of the live voice. The subjects are diverse and varied, and attract the big names in the tech industry, artists and athletes alike.
Halfway between podcast and conference call, the app can be summarized as listening to a phone conversation on the phone, but with the possibility of intervening and adding a grain of salt if desired. All you have to do is “raise your hand” and a salon administrator can give you the floor so you can participate in the discussions. When the conversation is over, the chat room closes. No records of said conversation. That said, nothing prevents a user from recording on the sly. If a discussion bothers us, we can move on to another room, and so on.
Clubhouse – A Rising Trend
Cozy and intimate, the atmosphere of the chat rooms can also turn into a major event at TED Talk with distinguished guests on “stage”. Like the time when the capacity of 5000 people was reached to listen to entrepreneur Elon Musk: secondary rooms had to be opened! So much so that the event was broadcast live on YouTube by fans. Since then, interest in the app has increased tenfold. Among the stars who joined the club, comedian Kevin Hart, the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, host Oprah Winfrey, and the rapper songwriter Drake, to name a few.
In just one year of existence, the app has been downloaded more than 13 million times, although it takes sponsorship to access it, and is now valued at 1 billion. The audio app became so popular in a short time that Facebook is already reportedly preparing a similar app behind the scenes.
Note that this is not the first time that the social network is based on a competitor: one need only think of Stories and freely borrowed filters Snapchat, or the Reels of Instagram, strongly inspired by TikTok. Twitter is also in the race to compete with its new Spaces tool, which allows you to create audio conversation groups. As for Instagram, the social network has already unveiled Live Rooms, a video feature where four people can express themselves live. Even LinkedIn is venturing into developing its own social audio experience!
While some social networks are banned in China, Clubhouse has been able to go its distance without being detected. It was not until February 8 that the audio application was blocked for good on its territory. Before its censorship, Chinese internet users had the opportunity, for a rare time, to discuss freely online taboo and more sensitive subjects. Moreover, one of the challenges that the audio application could face remains moderation. As the app works on a referral system, it can give a feeling of security to be in a protected space, away from internet trolls.
In fact, each account is linked to a telephone number, and it is possible to click on a profile to find out which member has invited it. All in all, there are already misogynistic and racist comments in some discussion rooms, as reported by reporter Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times. It goes without saying that with the rapid growth of the audio social network, moderation will be quite a challenge, especially since the current moderation tools for social networks are more about text and images. For its part, Clubhouse ensured that it was investigating every inappropriate case reported (all conversations are recorded) on its server.
With the reception of podcasts and the growing popularity of voice notes on Instagram and Facebook, it’s no wonder that Clubhouse is riding the audio wave.
Twitter Spaces And the New Model
Spaces is the name of a new experiment with which Twitter is going to test how voice could become that new form of communication within its own platform. A richer option than text and that if it were to come to fruition could completely change the way in which most use the popular social network.
Of course, you wonder why Twitter wants us to use voice instead of text, of those 280 characters (initially only 140) that have always defined it. The reasons are basically having a greater capacity when it comes to transmitting emotions, nuances and even empathy towards other users.
And there we do have to give them the reason that it is practically the only safe way to do it. Because who has not read a message with the wrong tone? Well, that is partly what this new feature wants to solve that Twitter is currently testing with a small number of users.
Going into a little more detail, Spaces will allow creating small spaces where a small group of users can connect directly and intimately. That is, as if they were small audio chat rooms, the idea is that the conversation that occurs is as pleasant as when we meet for dinner with a small group of people.
In any case, it is important to know that in these new Twitter spaces, absolute control will be held by whoever creates it. That means that everyone will be able to hear what is said inside, but only the owner of the space and those people who are given permission to do so participate.
What other users can do is make use of reactions through emojis and the like. Something that possibly also sounds familiar to you because of what can be done on other platforms when live is performed, etc.
If you are involved in all these social networks, platforms, online services, etc., it is likely that you know Clubhouse. This is a particular social network that is very fashionable and not because of its massive growth but because you need an invitation to access it.
When you become part of the Clubhouse, what you find is that it is a 100% auditory social platform. The only thing you need to enjoy it, in addition to the logical invitation because otherwise, you cannot access it, is a pair of headphones to listen carefully to everything that is discussed in their rooms.
That is another of the peculiarities of the platform, it is organized in rooms that you can access to talk about topics as diverse as politics, technology, economics, etc. Each of these rooms has its moderator and although they have received some criticism, the truth is that inside you can find important figures within the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial world or celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher.
Well, that is more or less the model that Twitter seems to implement with Spaces. And the good thing is that with this you already know a little about what problems and dangers you are facing, so they are already working on solving all that before its global launch if it happens. Because again we must remember that for now, it is just an experiment.
Voice is the Future
As we said at the beginning, there are those who believe that voice will be the future of social networks and they may be right. During 2020 we have seen how being able to connect with those people who matter to us become more relevant. It is true that it has not been an easy year and the COVID 19 pandemic forced many to remain locked at home, barely able to communicate with other people except through the use of technology.
This is how various proposals such as direct from Instagram, video calling applications such as Houseparty, Zoom, Google Meets, etc., gained more and more users. And all this also made some wonder to what extent it was worth betting on communication where audio is the most important thing.