Facebook announced several new social audio features yesterday that pose a direct challenge to Clubhouse. Three major features are coming to the platform: A near-exact clone of Clubhouse called Live Audio Rooms (an extension of Facebook’s video chatting feature, Messenger Rooms), a podcast player, and a new short-audio format called Soundbites.
The social giant has been testing audio features for at least a month now, so the move comes as no surprise. And this has been Facebook’s modus operandi for years: If you can’t buy it, copy it. But, while this is a common method of Facebook’s, it’s not always successful. Social audio may be one of those ventures that Facebook is unlikely to see much success with, for a few reasons:
The biggest advantage Facebook has is Groups, which could help solve the audio discovery issue that Clubhouse suffers from. Because audio isn’t searchable, it’s difficult to find rooms on Clubhouse that center around a certain topic. By tying Live Audio Rooms to existing Groups, Facebook can circumvent that issue—a benefit for not just users, but also marketers, who may struggle to find rooms where their brand is relevant. Of course, its utility for marketers is contingent on Facebook’s ability to attract a wide base of users to the new audio features. Given that social audio is already a difficult format for marketing, it’s worthwhile for advertisers to wait and see how Facebook’s plans pan out before implementing a social audio strategy on the platform.