Back in the early days of the web, Web Utopians believed in the connectivity of humans for good. Somewhere along the way, with fake news, rigged elections, cyber bullying, and all that goes with the Internet as we know it, that idea got a little lost.
Fast forward to 2020 and 2021, people are confined to their homes, screen fatigue has set in, and there emerges a new wave of apps connecting people in random and enjoyable ways for no other reason than shared interests, connection and humanity.
As of the first quarter of 2021, Clubhouse is gaining popularity publicly. Our take is that the unregulated noisy chatrooms is not going to last, at least in its current form.
We took a look at some of these new contenders in a category we like to call “Really Social Media”.
The features of Clubhouse, Lunchclub, Dialup, and Discord vary but the goal is shared – helping people to make new connections.
Read on to find out more about our intelligent Really Social Media picks in this nascent category of Audio Social.
Clubhouse is a drop in audio chat, a social network based on voice. It’s rise has been nothing short of spectacular – it has reached over 10 million downloads in less than a year, and that’s with ios only. Clubhouse allows people to chat and meet interesting people regardless of location. However, Clubhouse is not a professional networking platform like Lunchclub is. It is more about discovering people with shared interests such as music, film and sports.
It is similar in format to a podcast in terms of the conversational and casual tone. The only difference is that the conversations are not recorded.
At the moment Clubhouse is invite and ios only, so it’s not available to all.
Update on Monday 1 Feb – Elon Musk nearly broke Clubhouse!
Update again: Kanye & Elon
Musk’s appearance on Clubhouse saw him break all previous records for podcast numbers. Max concurrent in a room is 5000 and Elon Musk’s podcast filled 3 rooms. Read the full article here.
But people are saying that this is going to be the downfall of Clubhouse. Clubhouse allows all users to have a voice, regardless of a follower count, engagement or views. Influencers did not control the narrative; people with substance did. But as increasing numbers of celebrities enter the Clubhouse, it’s changing into a numbers game. And that’s while it’s still in beta.
- Will it be big? It is – it’s hit 10 million downloads in less than a year. But that could be because of its impeccable timing to launch. Fast forward to a time when we are not locked in to our homes, bored, and maybe Clubhouse will not be as popular. I just don’t see how it can scale in its current form. It’s like turning on the radio, and searching for a channel. With more and more noise as the numbers grow, the quality will drop, and maybe force people back to podcasts again. Currently Clubhouse is invite only and you can only connect with a specific type of person due to the ios only community.
- Is it valuable? It depends on what you’re looking for. If you enjoy meeting people in a casual way, then yes you will probably find value in Clubhouse. But if the sound of people talking over each other and conference style calls is not your thing, then this app is not for you.
- Is it for Business or Personal use? Personal use right now but you can bet Brands and Businesses are watching closely and we’ll see branded chats happening soon. Early days of radio when local companies sponsored shows. At the moment, Clubhouse is quite informal, with little to no emphasis placed on building professional connections, and no privacy, so the only marketing value at organisational level is scale and first mover advantage.
- Should you try it? Yes, if you have an invite. There’s also a great chance of connecting with prominent people as the app is in it’s early days and the community is relatively small. This access would not be possible on large apps such as Instagram. If you recall, in the early days of Instagram when direct messaging was first rolled out, it was possible to have conversations with prominent figures for a brief time that you liked or connected with.
Lunchclub connects individuals and has a slight skew towards business and networking. It can be used by job hunters to help them find their next job. It can be used by entrepreneurs seeking out investors. In addition, it can be used by interesting people simply looking to connect with others.
Lunchclub gained traction in 2020 when Covid made real life interactions impossible. The beauty about Lunchclub is how simple it is to use. The sign up process involves filling out details about who you are and the types of people you’re hoping to meet. The rest is down to Lunchclub’s artificial intelligence that matches you up with appropriate people and sets up meetings.
What sets Lunchclub apart from existing networking models is that it connects people face-to-face through Google Hangouts.
- Will it be big? Yes. Lunchclub allows for live face-to-face connections which mimics real life meetings, and is very appealing.
- Is it valuable? Yes. It creates connections between people in the same sphere who would otherwise not meet. Borders are no longer a barrier. For example, it can connect actors with screenwriters. Investors with entrepreneurs. Or simply a better version of you (no matter what you do) in a different place.
- Is it for business or personal use? Both. It’s early days yet, but our advice is to get in now before it gets taken over by business development people pushing product! However, the community is still relatively small and full of like-minded people.
- Should you try it? Yes, it’s free and the community is still relatively small. There is great advantage to establishing yourself on a social media app during it’s early days. Forming connections early on will put your business in a position of influence.
Dialup is another audio based networking app similar to Clubhouse. We first heard about Dialup in an Irish Times article by Patrick Freyne. Anything written by him is always a good read, check the article out here.
Dialup’s goal is to connect people across the globe through shared interests. You can select various ‘lines’ to join such as Business Owner, Books, Travel, Memory, Painters, or the mysterious sounding “Call In The Night”.
Dialup then uses these lines to find a compatible connection with others. At a preset time, your phone rings and you can either accept the call or decline.
When you accept, there is another person at the end of the line ready to talk. During the lockdown, this would have been a great source of connectivity, especially for people living alone.
We had many interesting and enjoyable conversations, and always learned something.
- Will it be big? Perhaps. Dialup has become very popular over the course of Covid19. But it is hard to know if the hype surrounding Dialup will last when life returns to normal.
- Is it valuable? Yes, if you’re looking to interact with people outside your local realm. You don’t even have to leave the house to meet someone new so why not give it a go? No risk involved for guaranteed reward.
- Is it for Business or Personal Use? Personal Use. The app encourages lighthearted interactions based on common interest. There are some business lines, but with all the interesting other lines, we didn’t venture into them.
- Should you try it? Yes, it’s free and you don’t have to be camera ready. The great thing about audio based interaction is that it removes the pressure of having to look presentable. Also, the focus is directly on the conversation itself. If you are someone who struggles to initiate face to face conversation or dislike visual based networking platforms, Dialup is worth giving a go. However, note that it doesn’t work so well on Huawei P30+ Pro.
Discord allows people to connect through audio and video chats. It began as a platform for gamers in 2015 and now has over 100 million users. While initially loved by the gaming community, it has evolved for communication between members of clubs or groups. It’s not the place you go to network with new people you have no connection with; it’s where you go to hang out with online friends.
You can use Discord to create topic-based channels to eliminate chaotic and disorganised group discussions. However, channels are invite-only so you won’t have to worry about privacy issues or noisy chatrooms.
Discord provides a few different templates to begin organising your chat channels. Also, there are templates ranging from college communities to book clubs to digital conventions.
Discord is meant for private groups that want to stay organised and in touch with one another.
- Will it be big? Since Discord is big in the gamer community, the difficulty will be gaining attraction from other groups. They have worked on rebranding themselves for clubs, study groups, and even fitness classes. If private communities find that they need something with text, audio, and video chatting, it might become big.
- Is it valuable? We think it is valuable for small groups that want to continue close communication. We like that you are able to audio chat or see your friends’ lovely faces. In addition, it is great for organising your topics of conversation. Without flooding your inbox, you can bounce from audio or video chatting about topics in a jiff.
- Is it for Business or Personal use? Both. Discord definitely intended for their platform to be used for social groups and clubs. We think its features can be used for business needs as well. Think of it as an audio version of Slack – for those quick questions you might need to ask your team or a single colleague. Discord can be a great solution for audio chatting while working remote.
- Should you try it? Why not? It’s free and easy to use. Keep in mind it is for private chatting, not public discussions. If you are looking to audio chat with a small group community, Discord is a great way to chat with those other members.
Clubhouse, Lunchclub, Dialup, and Discord all share the same goal of connecting people. They represent a new direction for social media that is led by voice.
We applaud that goal as it is truly social media. We’ve enjoyed conversations with art dealers in Barcelona, new emigrants to Copenhagen, Indians living in Dubai, French University lecturers and lots more. Every conversation has had some little nugget of humanity or connection that made it worthwhile.
If you are looking for human interaction without leaving your home, why not give one of these audio social platforms a try? Let us know how you got on using these Really Social Media platforms! Maybe we’ll see you there.
Are you going to try some really social media this year?