While visual content has dominated social media since its conception, audio content is gaining momentum. As video begins to take precedence over static content, the importance of audio has increased, with many social media platforms introducing their own drop-in audio features.
Following the initial success of Clubhouse, Twitter began testing its Twitter Spaces to selected users in November 2020, before rolling it out to users with 700+ followers in May 2021. Since then, it has begun rolling out a dedicated Spaces tab, in addition to the Spaces header (where Fleets used to live).
How does Spaces work?
Twitter describes Spaces as the place “where live audio conversations happen.” Initially described as “a small experiment focused on the intimacy of the human voice,” Spaces follows the once-popular format of Clubhouse where users can get together with another person or group of users to host live conversations.
When someone you follow on Twitter starts or speaks in a Space, it will appear at the top of your timeline (where Fleets used to live) in a purple bubble for as long as it is active. If you join a Space as a listener, you can react to what is said with emojis, tweets and DMs within the Space or request to speak.
Twitter has begun rolling out monetization methods for Spaces through Ticketed Spaces and its “Spark” program for creators.
Ticketed Spaces is a way users can support creators on Twitter and thank them for their time and effort hosting, speaking and moderating the public conversations. Hosts can decide the ticket prices and how many tickets to be sold; hosts will earn the majority of the revenue from purchased Tickets, but Twitter will keep a “small amount”.
Twitter creators can use Ticketed Spaces to host workshops, conversations or meet-and-greets with their biggest fans.
Twitter has also introduced a three-month accelerator initiative, designed to discover and reward the best Spaces on Twitter with financial, technical and marketing support. The Twitter Spaces Spark program will give participants $2500 per month, in addition to ad credits and customised Spaces swag. Participants will also receive opportunities for “prioritised in-app discoverability” for their best-performing Spaces, meaning Twitter will highlight these conversations at the top of the Spaces tab, helping creators build their audience.
Why does Twitter Spaces work?
Twitter Spaces has gained popularity since it was rolled out to all users globally. The audio feature can be directly compared to the once-popular audio platform Clubhouse, which has since fallen into irrelevancy. But why has Twitter Spaces succeeded?
While the concept of Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces are essentially the same, the way the platforms are used differs. People use Twitter for specific reasons including hyper-local engagement, niche community engagement, celebrity and influencer commentary, trending news, brand interactions and public venting. What do these all have in common? They are time sensitive.
Twitter is a social platform for the “now”. It’s where many users go to find trending news and updates relevant to their interests. This means when a big event is happening, users are already actively searching for the latest news on Twitter; Spaces lends itself to acting as an instant-reaction podcast to users.
Twitter users actively follow other users within their interests, so if they see a Space is active, it’s likely to be on a topic they are interested in and have an opinion on. Opinions run rife on Twitter, but the limited word capacity results in multiple-tweet threads to address an issue or topic. With Spaces, users can share their thoughts easily and verbally, but still receive the same engagement through Spaces’ built-in features.
Notably, Twitter Spaces has been particularly popular within the sports and gaming communities and is used as an instant-reaction podcast. Prominent figures within sports, gaming and esports have been organic hosts or selected by sports teams/brands to host. As events are taking place, hosts can offer expert, unbiased and uncensored commentary on the state of play.
This use for Spaces is more engaging that listening to an official broadcast on a TV or radio station as users can respond to commentary in real-time and receive a response in the moment. It creates a sense of momentary community as users of the same interest gather in the same place for a specific event.
It’s for this particular use that Spaces will have succeeded where Clubhouse didn’t. Although created for similar reasons, Clubhouse was quickly invaded by business-professionals and entrepreneurs that are keen to share their experiences and knowledge to others; it became too formal and censored.
Spaces also present brands with more opportunities to connect with pre-existing audiences. Brands that have already built a following on the platform can collaborate with relevant creators to host launches, Q&As or use their own employees to host Spaces for relevant cultural events and offer a brand perspective.