Digital audio is perhaps more important to Twitter than you think.
After all, the Washington Post in December reported that certain Twitter employees had suggested no product was more important to the social company’s growth strategy than its Clubhouse competitor, Spaces.
Surely it’s possible that Twitter’s prioritization on Spaces has changed since December. But the social company has not given up on making the product a more heavily used feature.
Earlier in March, Twitter started testing a new feature that lets certain users clip 30-second snippets from Spaces and share them on their timelines, for example. And Twitter in March also launched a creator-aimed dashboard that helps certain users determine how much they’ve made through monetization features like Ticketed Spaces, which first rolled out in August.
How Spaces is doing in terms of engagement is less clear. Twitter hasn’t shared usage metrics on its Clubhouse competitor during any earnings call since the feature’s launch, though the Washington Post in December reported the number of people listening to Spaces was under 1 million in July 2021, down from over 1.5 million in May.
It’s possible that the number of people listening to Spaces since July has increased, especially as the feature has gained more functionality But it still seems likely that many Twitter users still don't regularly use the platform’s Clubhouse copycat.
For example, just 12% of surveyed U.S. consumers aged 12+ were aware of Twitter Spaces in January of this year, according to a study released by Edison Research last week.
That could be in part because some consumers have cooled on social audio in general as the economy has reopened after the initial COVID-19 outbreak — notice how monthly Global Clubhouse downloads between September 2020 and January 2022 peaked in February 2021, per Sensor Tower.
But it’s also because there are now more notable Big Tech-backed Clubhouse competitors on the market. For example, LinkedIn in January started rolling out its Clubhouse-like offering, Audio Events, which allows users to broadcast audio-only during scheduled live events. And Amazon rolled out its own Clubhouse-like offering called Amp earlier in March.
To bolster Spaces’ existing user base — which would prevent Spaces from becoming the next Fleets — Twitter could look to regularly pay or incentivize new types of accounts with big followings to host a set number of Spaces over a period of time (similar to the Spaces content deal it struck with the NFL last summer or the content deal solidified with the NBA in November).
A type of big account that make sense for Twitter to target are journalists and news companies, many of which already consider Twitter a vital part of their professional existence anyways. Being paid to discuss big current events would probably be attractive to many journalists given they’re likely already tweeting about those things on the platform anyway.
Consumers who initially tune into Spaces to hear from big-name journalists or news organizations could then stumble upon other Spaces focused on areas in which they’re already interested, like sports or cryptocurrency.
Twitter needs to accelerate user growth given it now faces a tall task in hitting its goal of 315 million mDAUs by Q4 2023. To hit that goal, Twitter will have to add on average over 12 million mDAUs every quarter through Q4 2023; the social network only did that twice between Q1 2019 and Q4 2021.