February 9, 2021
The next era of social media will be audio-first.
Conversations through voice are more candid, visceral and human than cold text (even when that text is sprinkled with lots of emojis). Text often lacks context, which has to be compensated with thorough writing and explanation to ensure understanding. With talk, all that is done in real-time.
Enter Clubhouse, a new product that is leading the charge in providing a low-friction way to listen, talk and host conversations.
Today’s top social media companies are giants but are also laggards. They’ve innovated on many fronts, but have not made any huge strides in facilitating casual voice conversations. There are a few exceptions; Twitter has a beta voice room product, while Guilded and Discord have voice rooms that are easy to join.
Despite the exceptions, the whole of social media is ripe for regime change and here’s why:
With current apps, people labour over drafts, filters and edits placing a larger emphasis on the perfection of “media”, while the social component remains neglected. The over-rehearsal of social media creates warped perceptions of reality. Our social feeds have become like music videos, showing us highlight reels of rehearsed moments. Social media today is not really social.
People are realizing that algorithms don’t work in their best interest. The algorithm optimizes for rage-clicking or pushing you down rabbit holes you wouldn’t usually go into. At the end of it, you feel terrible and unfulfilled.
People are continuously exhausted with the options at hand. Instagram has gone full frontal on monetization with shopping and playing competition with the injection of Reels. The product’s initial premise of a simple photo-sharing app has become diluted by other objectives thanks to Facebook™. Twitter is increasingly embattled with moderation problems. Facebook’s relevance has been waning for a long time.
Let’s take a look at the three main features that make Clubhouse a category-defining product:
All you have to do is tap an event and boom you’ve been teleported into a voice room. No calling, no ringing and no waiting.
The tact use of emojis, humanistic fonts and colour make the product feel fun to use, approachable and accessible.
There are conversations about so many different diverse and niche topics, allowing people to personalize their experience as they see fit.
But, there are two main hurdles that Clubhouse will have to overcome to come out on top:
This is a contentious issue that tech hasn’t properly figured out. I’m not sure how Clubhouse intends to approach moderation at scale.
It’s unclear how Clubhouse will make money. It looks like Clubhouse will take the traditional route and continuously raise money. If they don’t figure it out, it might result in the acquisition to bankroll their operations.
Clubhouse will define the category of audio and inspire more products to do a double-take on our relationship with audio. If I could invest in Clubhouse, I would.
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Writing about design, community and growth. Designing products. Aspiring investor. Former design instructor. Learning code and Arabic.