Facebook is ready to introduce its answer to Clubhouse and other audio-only social media products such as podcasts. And it’s reportedly happening on Monday, April 19.
The range of so-called “social audio” products were detailed in a new report from Vox. It’s a little light on specifics at this point, but the report does note that it’s not clear when all of this stuff is actually launching. Facebook’s plan is apparently focused on the reveals, with maybe just one or two of the items arriving in short order. (Or maybe they all will, we’ll know soon enough.)
You can expect an audio-only version of Rooms, Facebook’s answer to the videoconferencing app Zoom that launched in 2020. Vox writer Peter Kafka speculates that this one will arrive the soonest, perhaps even alongside the reveal. The “Clubhouse-like product,” which isn’t named, sounds like it works pretty much as you’d expect, with groups of participants interacting with the host and other speakers “on a virtual ‘stage’.”
Another feature promises to bring user-created audio snippets to the Facebook news feed, which could be the most transformative reveal in terms of how it could impact a person’s day-to-day experience on the social network. The report notes that audio snippets will simply slide in alongside the text, images, and videos people can already share on their feeds.
Finally, expect Facebook to announce a Spotify partnership that aims to drive podcast discovery. Though as Kafka notes: “It’s unclear to me if Facebook intends to do more beyond flagging podcasts for its users and sending them to Spotify.”
The expectation is that Facebook users will see most of this stuff take shape, in beta form if nothing else, by late spring.
Facebook’s move toward “social audio” is a natural evolution for a company that has historically been just as willing to follow trends as it has to blaze them itself. Clubhouse exploded in a big way during the latter months of 2020, despite still being an invite-only service.
Twitter already introduced Spaces, it’s own answer to audio-only content creation. Reddit is reportedly working on something as well, though its so-called “power-up” feature is seemingly not as far along as Twitter’s. We’ve even heard some early chatter about Facebook’s take, which the company had previously confirmed, and it appears to be an extension of Facebook Messenger.
What’s not clear is how Facebook’s audio-focused expansion of Rooms would differ from its would-be Clubhouse competitor. The earlier reporting on Facebook’s plans didn’t differentiate between two products, though the description suggests that users will have the option of going with Live Audio or Private Audio. The former sounds more like a Clubhouse kind of thing whereas the latter could be the Rooms expansion mentioned in the Vox story.
Of course, the Rooms expansion could be one whole thing unto itself while the Clubhouse competitor could just be Facebook Hotline, which we’ve also heard about already. Whatever the reality turns out to be, it seems clear that Facebook is ready to show the world how it’s getting into the world of audio-only content creation.