The Case for Twitter Spaces
Why Twitter’s Clubhouse clone is poised to give the hottest app on the planet a run for its money
I live a simple life with a few steadfast rules. They include: 1) Be kind 2) Call loved ones at least once a week 3) Don’t expect too much from Twitter. Alas, after a hasty hot take and then some serious thought about Twitter’s new Clubhouse clone — called Twitter Spaces — I’m relaxing rule number three for just a moment. Lord help me.
Twitter and Clubhouse are locked in a battle to dominate a new form of audio social networking that feels equal parts podcast, industry convention, and conference call. For the uninitiated, the format has people gather in virtual “rooms” where a convening moderator sets a topic and invites people to speak. No new form of social media has been as promising since Snapchat debuted Stories in 2013. And like Stories, there’s a case to be made that the primary beneficiary will not be the originator.
Clubhouse, which pioneered this format, has built something special, no doubt. The discussions in its rooms feel timely, entertaining, and sometimes a bit edgy. Being in a room with celebrities and industry icons, even if you’re not a speaker, creates a feeling of shared presence that’s flat out electric. So it’s no wonder that Clubhouse invites are going for $125 on eBay.
But while Clubhouse may be the hottest app in the world, Twitter is well positioned to co-opt its energy with Spaces, a clone that replicates Clubhouse’s features and integrates them into the Twitter app. Twitter’s version — just rolling out — is intuitive, a logical fit, and adds a meaningful new experience to the app. It may not work (see: Rule three), but it’s likely not Google+ 2.0.
Whenever I evaluate a new social network’s prospects, I return to Eugene Wei’s framework: Status as a Service. In a lengthy post written two years ago, Wei, a former Amazon and Facebook employee, explained that when people use social networks, they “seek out the most efficient path to maximize their social capital.” People, in other words, expect to earn status from the effort they put into creating stuff on social media. That’s why they post for free. Young people, for example, stay away from…