How social audio may boost or break your business strategy

Clubhouse, Spaces, Fireside… the “pivot to” season is opening again. Here’s what will work and what can go wrong with the next best thing” in media — emphasis on the quotation marks

Clubhouse

In May 2020, these guys were a promising startup with just over 1,500 users, and in less than nine months they became a company with a potential valuation of $1 billion. So it comes as no surprise that Clubhouse is all the rage. At the time of this writing, the app was still invite-only, iOS-only and messy-only, but a lot of fun.

Spaces

That’s Twitter’s version for Clubhouse, but with some significant differences. The user can set up a “room” — I mean a “space,” of course — and get his show on the road. Invitations and iPhones are not mandatory, and there’s no limit for the number of listeners at the same time (in Clubhouse the limit is 5,000 people). Another difference is, users can rely on the follower base they already have on Twitter, which is a big deal because in Clubhouse, you start your journey with the counter at zero.

Fireside

Of all three, Fireside is the furthest from being launch publicly because it’s currently in beta with a very limited number of users. From what some tech sites were able to gather from a few screenshots, it intends to be some kind of Clubhouse, but enhanced with typical podcast features, like incidental music, sound effects and monetization tools.

Remember blogs? Too much fun until it became too much work
  1. Keeping the product relevant — which can be done with a series of media actions that, interestingly enough, several tech companies have shown a lot of difficulty in achieving or getting the right tone.
  2. Arranging international expansion as soon as possible — social audio is about very different languages, so is the path from niche to mainstream.
  3. Investing extensively in content moderation and data protection, issues that, for incomprehensible reasons, companies keep underestimating like it’s 2015. “We would be kidding ourselves if we thought we could be the police officers for all live audio conversations happening globally at any given point in time,” Beykpour said about moderation in Twitter Spaces.
  1. Do not renew the YouTubers’ folly of a podcast-about-nothing. It’s simply impossible to adapt the material that already exists to use it in social audio. The same goes for any modus operandi that you believe it has been a resounding success on another platform.
  2. And finally a tip from the previous list that also applies to this one: the need for content moderation cannot be stressed enough. The minute your “room,” “club,” or “space” becomes a place that allows the spread of fake news, hate speech, misinformation, promotion of violent extremism etc., I’m sorry, but you’re done.

Two decades of hardcore journalism in a past life; now Digital Media PhD candidate @ University of Porto, coffee taster and vinyl aficionado

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