Unless you’ve spent the last few months on the Moon or even Mars, you’ve probably heard of ClubHouse. For the others, it’s a social network based on the principle of live audio conversations in which the user can switch from one thematic room to another. Available only by invitation and on iPhone (at the beginiing) it is the big success of these last months, the place “in” where you absolutely have to be.
Everyone wants their own ClubHouse
Due to the success of ClubHouse, the reactions were not long in coming: everyone wants to copy it. Facebook, LinkedI, Twitter but also Slack and even Spotify are thinking about implementing a specific feature in their product.
Why such a frenzy? The answer is simple: it corresponds to a real demand from the users of these social platforms, the success of the original proves it, so rather than see the adepts of this type of interaction spend more time on ClubHouse and less at theirs, which leads to a decrease in their revenues or even can permanently divert part of their audience for the less “essential” of them (the days are only 24 hours long and attention is limited) they prefer to implement at home what works elsewhere even if it means adapting it to their specificities.
How can you differentiate yourself when everyone else is copying each other?
It’s a strategy that can however be questioned. While we keep on claiming that we have to be different to exist, why add a feature that makes us just comparable to the others? Why invest in a copy with the risk that users continue to prefer the original?
Already because when a functionality or, if you prefer, a modality of interaction, becomes commoditized it is no longer a question of talking about a bonus for the one who has it but a handicap for the one who does not have it.
Moreover here we are talking about “social” platforms (except Spotify… yet…) whose principle is to provide the most varied means of interaction possible to their users to cover a maximum of needs and use cases. Adding a ClubHouse-like feature is not a pivot, just adding a feature to a catalog and is not strategic. In fact ClubHouse is only strategic for ClubHouse and tactical for others. But we’ll talk about that a little later.
A feature is nothing if it does not meet its audience
And then there is another dimension to consider. We often talk about the search for the ultimate feature, the “killer feature” but this is an overrated concept. No matter how disruptive, useful or addictive a feature may be, it is not worth much if it does not meet an audience and its audience.
Saying that a feature needs to meet an audience can seem as prescient as saying you need air to breathe. Like saying a product needs a market. But talking about a feature that allows you to communicate, its perceived value evolves exponentially in relation to the audience that grabs it. Stories on Snapchat were great, but they’ve taken on a different dimension on Facebook or Instagram. Why? Because by the nature and age of these platforms you reach more people. And when you can share a story on Facebook, why go to Snapchat where you will only find 20% of your network? I don’t know if stories have been a “game changer” for Facebook, but their adoption by this large audience network has put a brake on Snapchat’s growth.
And beyond an audience from a quantitative point of view, there is “its” audience from a qualitative point of view. To take the example of stories, they are not used in the same way on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Why? Because we don’t have the same contacts and therefore we don’t pass the same messages and not in the same way. And the same will be true for the “audio rooms” of Clubhouse. Even if the functionality is the same, a room on Facebook will not be the same as on LinkedIn or…ClubHouse. Depending on their needs and uses, each audience may use a feature in a different way. The important thing is that those who use it in the same way use it in the same place, otherwise it quickly becomes confusing.
A mistake frequently made in terms of communication is to go on a media because it proposes an interesting feature while forgetting that its audience is not there and that the audience that is there does not need you or even want to hear you: in short, you are a blot on the landscape and you are disturbing. You don’t have a wedding at McDonald’s and you don’t have a bachelor party at a 3-star restaurant. That’s all there is to it.
ClubHouse is a feature that is of interest but only if it is available in networks and audience pools with a critical mass of users.
I won’t go to ClubHouse but ClubHouse will come to me
The reason why everyone wants to have their own ClubHouse and why it makes sense does not raise too many questions and is just the umpteenth replay of a well-known story from the tech scene: for ClubHouse ClubHouse is a business model, for others it is a simple feature.
As it becomes more commoditized, we’ll see if its success continues. Whether audio lounges are successful on Facebook, LinkedIn or elsewhere will be good news at best and anecdotal at worst for them. In the meantime the original ClubHouse will have lost some of its traction or even had its wings clipped by its “competitors”. The price of success. By the way, I don’t know if it’s already a loss of momentum or a wait-and-see attitude due to the announcement of the arrival of clones by the established players, but it seems that the ClubHouse frenzy has already died down.
When the ClubHouse frenzy took hold I didn’t follow up on the numerous invitations I received to go and discover the star platform of the moment. The reason? Not enough time nor attention to put in a subject that is not at the top of my priority pile at the moment. 5 or 10 years ago I would have certainly gone for it, not today.
It’s all about priorities and making choices, but when I asked myself “aren’t you going to regret missing out on something” I remembered what one of my old mentors told me a long time ago. “If you don’t have time to look at all the new stuff and the niche stuff it doesn’t matter, if it’s worth it they’ll come to you.
We’re at that point with ClubHouse, which will eventually get to where we are without us having to go the other way. At that point we’ll see what we do with it.