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Clubhouse Announces New Hires, First Funding Recipients, as it Refines its Focus on Content

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With alternative audio social tools rising fast, Clubhouse has found itself in an increasingly uphill battle to maintain audience attention, pitted against far better-resourced opponents who are looking to tap into the trend that it originated, and essentially stunt the app’s growth in order to keep their own users from drifting.

Which, of course, makes sense, but for Clubhouse itself, that means that it’s at risk of losing out entirely, as fewer people download the app, and it struggles to open up access to every interested, potential user – while Twitter and Facebook, at the flip of a switch, are able to provide the same types of tools to millions of people, shutting Clubhouse’s window just a little more with every update and expansion.

Given this, the longer-term prospects for Clubhouse are not looking great, unless it can find another, more unique angle.

Which is now becoming the app’s focus – this week, Clubhouse has made several announcements which point to that next key shift, and could help Clubhouse carve out a more specific, differentiated niche, and enable it to maintain its growth, despite the increased competition.

First off, on Wednesday, Clubhouse announced the first recipients of its ‘Creator First’ grants program, through which it will fund the development of a range of original programming from Clubhouse creators.

Clubhouse Creator Class

Clubhouse announced its Creator First funding program back in March, which will see it provide support, resources and equipment to assist in the development of a range of original audio concepts. Clubhouse will also ensure that participants in the program are provided with at least $5000 in guaranteed monthly income, while it will also assist in securing sponsorship and brand partnership arrangements to establish a more sustainable funding flow for these unique shows.

That will help the app secure more original, quality programming, while also ensuring that these popular creators keep sharing to the app, a key step in establishing audience connection, and keeping listeners coming back, even with more audio broadcasts now competing for attention.

Clubhouse is also taking its original content push another step further with the hiring of Kelly Stoetzel, the former head of conferences and speaker curation at TED, as well as former Google engineer Justin Uberti, who had been heavily involved in Google’s audio and video product offerings.  

As reported by Variety, Stoetzel, who’s worked at TED for the past 17-years, will be tasked with recruiting more ‘thoughtful people’ to the platform:

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“…including authors, scientists, academics and other creatives to use the app’s interactive audio rooms. She’ll also work with high-profile folks already on the platform, including Malcom Gladwell, Adam Grant, Amy Cuddy, Guy Raz, Dr. Bernice King and Frances Frei.”

Stoetzel’s experience, and connections, could help Clubhouse secure a range of high-profile, original broadcast partnerships, and could play a key role in ensuring the app remains relevant, despite other platforms offering more reach. 

Uberti, meanwhile, will help improve the quality of the in-app experience, and ensure that Clubhouse users are getting optimal audio and engagement benefits within its Rooms.

In combination, these new developments point to the app’s increasing focus on quality over quantity, which is a good thing, because there’s simply no way that Clubhouse will be able to scale fast enough to compete with the reach benefits offered by other tools.

By honing its focus on more specific use cases, however, Clubhouse could carve out a more specific audience offering, and much like Snapchat, it could then remain a relevant platform moving forward, even as other platforms look to steal its thunder, and quash its growth.

This appears to be the best way forward for Clubhouse, and these new developments do bode well in this respect. Vine, for example, waited too long to offer creator funding, which eventually saw its top stars, and their audiences, move to other platforms, while Snapchat, as noted, suffered a slowdown in momentum after the release of Instagram Stories, but has since regained it through niche focus.

Clubhouse would benefit from following that same blueprint, and with these latest updates, it does appear to be slowly steering itself in that direction.  

Will that see Clubhouse stick around for the long term? It’s still early days, but it does seem like a step in the right direction.

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Twitter Moves to Next Stage of Testing for its New ‘Status’ Indicators

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Twitter Moves to Next Stage of Testing for its New ‘Status’ Indicators

Do you struggle to provide adequate context within the 240 characters allowed for tweets?

If so, then you’re in luck, as Twitter’s developing a range of tweet status indicators, which will eventually provide a simple way to add another element to your tweeted message, which could help to better communicate meaning and intent.

Or not. As shared by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, this is the current listing of Twitter status options in testing:

Pretty unique combination of possible status alerts here – a mix of trending sayings and popular activities. Users won’t be able to create their own status, you’d have to use one of these presets – which is a little restrictive, but it could be handy? Maybe.

Twitter’s been testing out its Status indicators for a while, with the original list of status options, which Wong also tweeted back in July, including a few that have been culled as part of this expansion.

Twitter Status

As you can see, when you add a Status, it will be displayed above your tweet, and below your username, adding immediate context to your message.

Status indicators would also be searchable, with users able to tap on a status indicator, which will take you through to a listing of all the tweets that have applied the same activity.

Twitter Status

Really, Twitter’s actually been testing Status markers out since 2018, when it previewed this format for the option.

Twitter Status indicator

The idea, at that stage, seemed to be to help people list events that they were attending, which users often do already by adding the event hashtag to their username. A status indicator would make this easier, while also helping people connect around said event – but since then, Twitter’s revised its approach to the markers, making them more of a topical sorting option to help users find relevant activity and engagement opportunities.

Which, I guess, they could facilitate.

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Maybe, by tapping on ‘Picture of the Day’ that could become another engagement and discovery element, or by tapping ‘Hot Take’ you could find more tweets to interact with, and add your own opinion.

It could be a handy way to sort tweets by topic, which could be beneficial. Maybe, though I’m not sure that it’s going to have much of an impact on overall tweet engagement.

Twitter’s been working to add in more content sorting and discovery tools over the past couple of years, including Communities, Circles for private chats, and topics in the Audio tab. Twitter also added and the capacity to follow Topic streams back in 2019, which it had hoped would give users more ways into Twitter discussions, and to find interactions more relevant to their interests.

For more regular users, those probably aren’t particularly useful – but for new users coming in, they could be important, as Twitter isn’t overly intuitive for people when first starting out. This has been an issue for the platform since forever, and these types of additional discovery measures could help to address this. 

If Twitter can integrate them in an effective, engaging way.

The problem on this front is that Twitter’s topics algorithms are still fairly basic, with the tweets shown to users within topic streams often being off-topic, even offensive, because they’re being displayed based on basic keyword mentions and total engagement with each tweet, not on relevance.

Which is why the Spaces/Audio tab isn’t attuned to your interests, based on usage, why the ‘Who to Follow’ display is never locked into users you might be interested in. It’s all too basic, and in this sense, Twitter has fallen behind other platforms on algorithmic sorting and alignment.

Which is why it’s now seeking more manual intervention, by letting users add status markers to categorize discussion.

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Which seems like a backwards step, given that other platforms are becoming increasingly good at showing you more content based on your interests, without you needing to do anything other than use each app.

But maybe, it’ll become a thing, and provide another way for Twitter to boost engagement.

There’s no official release plan in place for Twitter’s status updates as yet, but they’re likely coming very soon.   



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