Hear me out… Social isn’t about innovation. It’s about who can do it best

Oscar Wilde said, “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” – and social networks really take this quote to heart.

Case in point: It took the big social names less than a year to start developing their own audio chat product to compete with the emerging newcomer Clubhouse. Facebook is experimenting with audio, Twitter launched Spaces last December, and even Reddit is tracking its own clubhouse clones.

Let me get that straight. Within the past 24 hours, Spotify, LinkedIn, and Slack have announced that they are creating their versions of Clubhouse. The summer of 2021 is approaching the summer of social audio. https://t.co/jww1FHJ8qh

– Richard Ting (@flytip) March 31, 2021

Reality is not something that is forever new for social duration. The clubhouse hit gold with its unique audio-only format, but it was only a matter of time before one of the more established powerhouses replicated the same feature for itself.

Let me finish …

For social networks, innovation alone does not guarantee a competitive advantage. What’s more important is who can do the best iteration of a feature that someone else made up.

Nathan Young, Head of Strategy at Deloitte Digital, sums it up best in his tweet:

Consider live streaming, a feature that is widely used on most social networks. Before Periscope existed, there was Meerkat, an app that garnered nearly two million users over its lifespan. Despite the popularity of meerkats, a common complaint users shared was that most of the livestream links were dead when they clicked on them. On the other hand, Periscope (a live streaming app acquired by Twitter) enabled streaming playback. It was this little feature, in addition to Periscope’s access to Twitter’s entire user base, that ultimately helped meerkats shut down just a year after launch.

Something similar happens with social audio. Clubhouse shot to the top of the app charts because it brought something new to the table. It’s a hit with celebrities and thought leaders, is valued at $ 4 billion and has over 10 million app downloads. No wonder that other social networks would like to use this new function.

The clubhouse took off like a rocket last year. 10 million users and it’s clear that social audio is going to be a huge market with Twitter Spaces, Facebook and probably LinkedIn all on the rise. I get the hype, social audio is amazing. 1 / x pic.twitter.com/n8wtXxHKqK

– Benjamin Cox (@BenjaminGCox) April 12, 2021

However, we know that there is still room for improvement. Clubhouse is only available for iOS, with the exception of the 2.5 billion+ active Android users around the world. It is also completely inaccessible to deaf and hard of hearing users as there are no subtitle or transcription options available.

A5: Currently the clubhouse is not accessible to deaf and hard of hearing users. There are no transcription or subtitle options. Stories on most platforms cannot be made fully accessible even to deafblind users as there is no readable text. #ChatAboutBrand https://t.co/GGxE7SC7OS

– Alexa Heinrich (she / she) (@HashtagHeyAlexa) March 30, 2021

On the flip side, Twitter Spaces has already beaten the invite-only app on a few fronts – even though it launched a few months after Clubhouse debuted. Spaces is currently available for both iOS and Android. It’s accessible to anyone with a Twitter account and has the ability to view subtitles. While Clubhouse excels at its pure audio functionality, it is fair to question its longevity once established networks have found a way to mirror and improve Clubhouse functionality.

Future case study: what happens to clubhouse if others add the feature to already established social networks?

Clubhouse is already losing its stickiness for some users and Android users are still not welcome.

Which audio service are you most likely to use?

– Gar Christina Garnett (@ThatChristinaG) March 31, 2021

While a noticeable new feature can help make social networks stand out from the crowd, this competitive advantage seldom lasts long. And because of that, networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn don’t feel compelled to repost something from scratch every few years in order to stay relevant.

The staying power social networks know that spending the extra time creating the best possible version of a product is more important than being the first to hit the market.

Interested in audio content but not sure where to start? Read this article about podcasts and the tips you need to create effective audio content.

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