Humans have always enjoyed the sound of voice. Whether it’s a story at bedtime, a talk show on the radio, or a favorite podcast, we seek out the voices of those who entertain and engage us.
Nowadays, social audio is riding the same, familiar soundwave into our lives with apps like Clubhouse and a handful of other lookalike products and features.
But, what is social audio, and what’s behind its explosive growth over the past year?
Let’s have a closer look at why people are listening up.
What Is Social Audio?
Social audio is a category within social media, specifically audio-based content broadcast and shared on social platforms. Content may be live, pre-recorded, interactive, or any combination of these. Depending on the app, users can choose to listen and potentially participate in the dialogue.
To date, there are nearly 40 social audio companies, and that list is expected to continue growing. When it comes down to it, though, Clubhouse undoubtedly carved out the social audio category as we know it today — in as few as 12 months.
Clubhouse: The Birth and Explosive Growth of Social Audio
It’s been a wild ride over the past year. Clubhouse, the audio-based social media network, set the stage with a tremendous response to its platform. Launched in April 2020, the app now reports 10 million weekly active users, up from 600K as recently as December 2020 — all without a presence on Android devices.
What makes Clubhouse totally unique is the format: live audio and audience participation. Instead of simply listening to pre-recorded content, users can tune in and join conversations in real-time. It’s a completely novel way of doing social, rather than an additional feature on top of an existing network like we’re seeing with Twitter Spaces and Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms.
Inside the Clubhouse: How It All Works
Since Clubhouse is still an invite-only app, it’s difficult to imagine what the experience is like until you’re inside. A recent article from Bustle put it nicely: “think podcasts, but you can participate.”
Upon entering the main area (called the “Hallway”), you can browse through a listing of live chat rooms to see what you find interesting. You can also search for conversations by topic, people or clubs, and get notified of when conversations are available from people or topics you follow.
Once you enter a room, you can listen to what’s happening and — if you choose to do so — join the conversation by clicking the “raise hand” icon in the bottom right of the screen, or just unmute and be part of the discussion.
Here’s a look inside a Clubhouse live chat room:
You can see the room displays the club’s name and topic at the top, followed by the speakers section (if they have a green star next to their name, they’re also a moderator), then people who the speakers follow and others who are in the room with you. If you like what a speaker has to say, then consider following them so you can see other rooms they’ll be speaking in.
If you decide the conversation has run its course, you can easily slip out of the room without distracting others by clicking “Leave quietly” in the bottom left of the screen.
Where It Goes from Here
The growth of social audio on Clubhouse is truly incredible. It shows the excitement people have to not only access conversations but also participate in them and make connections. It demonstrates that the appeal of voice has not faded with time. Clubhouse, and other apps like it, will continue to evolve as more content creators and users join these unique communities for the opportunity to learn, network, engage, and — most importantly — have fun.
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