It feels like audio social had its moment, doesn’t it? That it was a pandemic-induced trend, which is still valuable to some degree, but is unlikely to become the transformative, connective tool that many envisioned back when Clubhouse had a $4 billion valuation.
Clubhouse is now struggling to maintain growth, Facebook has all but abandoned its audio social initiatives, and other apps, while they keep trying, don’t really seem to be gaining a heap of traction with their copycat functions.
Which leads to Twitter Spaces.
Of all the audio social additions, Spaces seemed to gain the most traction, and with Twitter’s established network to latch onto, it also seemed like the most likely to succeed, long term.
But it hasn’t become a big element of the Twitter experience just yet.
Can it? It definitely appears as though Twitter still has faith, as it continues to experiment with new Spaces options and tools, while Spaces also still has its own tab in the lower function bar of the app, highlighting the potential that Twitter sees in it enhancing the user experience.
And the next stage might be coming – according to new screenshots, Twitter is getting closer to launching a revamped version of the Spaces tab which will separate audio broadcasts, both live and recorded, into topics, in what looks similar to a podcast display.
As you can see in this extended layout example, posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Twitter’s new topic-based approach to Spaces will make it easier to find content on key discussions of interest, including dedicated displays of the latest broadcasts on ‘News’, ‘Sports’, ‘Music’ and more.
Twitter’s been working on the new format for some time, with its initial topics layout spotted in testing back in June, which also, at that time, included popular podcasts in the feed.
That, along with the addition of recorded Spaces, seemed to suggest that Twitter was looking to incorporate podcast discovery into its audio tools, expanding its listings beyond Spaces content alone.
That could make Twitter a more essential audio companion, while also providing more capacity for Spaces hosts to convert their streams into downloadable, potentially monetizable shows, while the more dedicated topics approach would improve the discoverability of Spaces content, which has been a key issue impeding Spaces take-up.
Because, most of the time, the majority of in-progress Spaces are not relevant. Tap on the Spaces tab and you’ll see a heap of Web3 and NFT chats. But if you’re not into those topics, there’s generally not a heap of variety at any given time.
Accessible, categorized Spaces recordings solves this, while the addition of other popular podcasts could also get more people turning to the app when they’re looking for audio content – though it is notable that this latest example doesn’t show existing podcasts in the same way as the original test.
That may be why Twitter recently asked TechCrunch not to share these early images, as it’s still working on the format. Maybe Twitter couldn’t secure licensing to include outside podcasts in the new display – though, either way, it still seems like an improvement, which, if nothing else, will give Spaces the best chance to succeed.
And it still might. Time Magazine, for example, is regularly broadcasting via Spaces over summer, which could result in it making Spaces an ongoing content avenue.
That could get more people listening – but the main issue with Spaces remains the same as it was with video live-streaming before it.
When you open up a broadcast tool to everyone, you’re going to get a lot of bad content. That’s inevitable – as more people get the opportunity to broadcast, they’re going to, and only a finite number of creators have the actual talent and skill required to create consistent, engaging content, with broad audience appeal.
As such, you need filters, you need tools to be able to highlight the best, to showcase the cream of the crop, in order to deliver the best experience, which will then keep people coming back.
At present, Twitter’s Spaces tab doesn’t do that, but maybe, with more specific curation, and the addition of recordings, and potentially outside podcasts, that could still happen, and could make Spaces a more valuable element.
Google Launches New Add-On Prompts to Guide Discovery in Search
With AI technology advancing, and changing the way that people use various apps by providing more recommendations and suggestions in process, Google has today announced a new update for Search which will provide related topics to help refine your query as you go.
As you can see in these examples, now, Google will provide a listing of related topics within your Search results, providing an easy way for users to simply tap on each and hone their results.
As per Google:
“You can add or remove topics, which are designated by a + symbol, to quickly zoom in or backtrack on a search. For example, if you’re searching for ‘dinner ideas’, you might see topics like ‘healthy’ or ‘easy’. Tapping on a topic adds it to your query, helping you quickly refine your search results with less typing.”
Google’s actually already replicated Guided Search several times, for recipes, images and within its Shopping tab. As such, this, functionally, this, functionally, isn’t anything new, but it is interesting to consider within the context of the general Google Search process, and how it might play a role in driving future discovery trends, and maximizing the functionality of the app.
Google says that the related topic listings are dynamic, and will evolve based on your behavior.
“When you conduct a search, our systems automatically display relevant topics for you based on what we understand about how people search and from analyzing content across the web. Both topics and filters are shown in the order that our systems automatically determine is most helpful for your specific query. If you don’t see a particular filter you want, you can find more using the “All filters” option, which is available at the end of the row.”
So you’ll have a few ways to refine the results, which could make it easier to skim through different ideas, and zone in on more specific areas.
In terms of SEO, that shouldn’t have a big impact, as it’s working with existing trends, so the add-on qualifiers should relate to what people are already searching for, as opposed to guided users towards new and different areas of interest.
But it could amplify existing trends, by reiterating them to more users. For example, if people who search for ‘dinner ideas’ are regularly being shown ‘healthy’ as an add-on, that could make ‘healthy dinner ideas’ a bigger search trend over time, as more people lean into such because of these prompts, as opposed to taking whatever results they would have got without the add-on term.
So it could guide user behavior towards more common trends. Which shouldn’t have a big impact, but could, again, help to make the most common trends even more significant.
Maybe that has an impact on long-tail search terms and more specific trends, as people stop getting more granular – but that also supposes that a lot of people end up using these add-on terms, which we don’t know will happen as yet.
As noted, AI and machine learning-based systems are becoming more common elements in guiding user behavior online, with newer systems like ChatGPT potentially even besting Google for more in-depth answers to user prompts, based on various web-based inputs. Some believe that these systems could actually disrupt Google’s hold on the Search ecosystem, and as such, it’s not really surprising to see Google looking to add more guided elements into search to lean into this shift.
It’ll be interesting to see how these systems evolve, and whether they do indeed lead to the rise of a new challenger in Search and discovery.
Before that happens, you can bet that Google will add in more tools and options to enhance its processes.
The new Google add-on prompts are being rolled out to US users from this week, with other regions to follow.
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