Beyond social networks and trends: what Clubhouse has become

Last time I opened Clubhouse it was spring 2021: As the world began to recover from the second lockdown, the audio social network founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth reached the pinnacle of success.

Valued at $4 billion, with 10 million daily active users and one person traffic. many celebrities (including Elon Musk, Oprah WinfreyDrake, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock and many others), Clubhouse seemed to represent the future of social media.

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Since then, the situation has changed dramatically: according to the most recent estimates, Today, Clubhouse would have no more than 3 million users. active (a figure that may still be optimistic), and last April the company announced it was laying off more than half its staff. Clubhouse has gone from being a phenomenon to being a meteor that no one talks about anymore. What happened to the platform that, thanks to themed rooms in which everyone could communicate verbally and live, a technology expert Ben Thompson defined “social networking in the headphone era.”doomed to “inevitable” success.

The main reason for the decline of Clubhouse was indicated by the company itself in a press release, which announced important changes made in an attempt give new life to this social network: “Since coronavirus, we have all returned to school and work, so it has become more difficult to participate in discussions in rooms. While millions of our community members still go through this experience, many others no longer do.”

Clubhouse’s success had less to do with the rise of headphones and more to do with a very specific phenomenon. a historical stage that forced us to stay at home or in any case have a very limited social life. Once this period ended and we returned to our hectic daily lives, the social network, which (unlike traditional Instagram or TikTok, which we use in fragments) requires us to stay connected for a long time and at certain times, faced a problem enormous difficulties.

Understanding all this, Clubhouse programmers radically changed the platform, the latest version of which with a new logo became available on September 6. In fact, the new Clubhouse is almost unrecognizable from the one we used a couple of years ago, and once opened it also leaves you completely lost: there is no calendar to allow you to navigate between the rooms scheduled for the day and subscribers have accumulated over time replaced by far fewer friends.

This is all because Clubhouse no longer wants to be a social network, but wants to become one. audio messaging platform which allows us (as the press release always says) to “hear the voices of our friends throughout the day and meet new people, just like we do in the real world through mutual friends.” To sum it up, Clubhouse today is betting on turning rooms into group audio chats where messages can be left. a voice message that each guest can respond towho may be friends of the person who started the chat, or friends of his friends.

So the focus is no longer on influencers and creators who can create high-traffic rooms, but on intimate chats where some friends communicate with each other. At the same time, communication now occurs not in real time, but asynchronously: we leave a voice message, and our friends listen to it and respond whenever they want (the press release emphasizes that it will still be possible to create live rooms).

If I had friends who actively use Clubhouse, I would open the app and look at the chats of some of them. left voice messages to which I can answer. While I’m on the subway or in the car, I can listen to audio messages that my friends leave in the chat, where we comment on the latest episode of our favorite series or something else.

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From this point of view, the transformation of Clubhouse is in accordance with changes occurring in the social world. Today, users prefer to share messages and content within close groups rather than in the public square of Facebook or Instagram, which are therefore less and less social networks and more and more social networks designed primarily for passive use of content created by creators professionals or aspiring professionals.

However, to succeed, the new Clubhouse, which lets you leave voice messages for small groups of friends, will have to overcome a very difficult task: convincing us to do it on another platform. what we already do regularly today on WhatsApp.

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