Everyone remembers Google+. Well, that’s a lie. Everyone remembers forgetting Google+. The platform, designed to compete with LinkedIn and Facebook, launched in 2011, bringing Google into the social media game. In fact, it was Google’s fourth attempt; Google+ was preceded by Google Buzz, Google Friend Connect (great name, right?) And Orkut, all of which were abject failures. What can the new Clubhouse audio social network learn from the Google+ failure? Probably a lot.
Google+ has grown at an all-time high, but in almost every way it has been a huge disappointment. The company said there were issues, “creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumer expectations.” But the problem was much deeper than that, most users didn’t even want to be users in the first place; they had just signed up because they had to when they activated Gmail or Google Drive. In fact, the majority of sessions on the platform lasted less than five minutes, vastly underperforming their competition and failing to take a stand in the daily routine of average users. It was a sophisticated solution that was in desperate need of a problem.
But the real reason Google+ died was the content, or rather the lack of it. Thus, the platform was buried in 2019, falling into obscurity, remembered for being forgotten and a huge waste of money. It actually helped improve Google Photos dramatically, but not finding a place among the major players in social media has always put it in the waste column.
Does Clubhouse experience something similar? If you know me, you know I had high expectations for Clubhouse, the audio chat platform. At first it felt like the Wild West, lawless and free, and there were some interesting people there talking about interesting things all the time.
Part of it was driven by the original exclusivity. As you probably know, Clubhouse acted like a private club; you were to be invited to join, and each member had some valuable invitations. It flourished thanks to its exclusivity. People were literally losing money on an invitation (over $ 125). People like Oprah Winfrey, Tiffany Hadish and Mark Cuban came to talk about their lives.
And the platform flourished. As of February 2021, the app had 9.6 million downloads. But in April, it had only 900,000.
The model he thrived on, exclusivity and expertise, quickly died under a wave of startups, marketers and self-promotion. The novelty of being in a ‘room’ with Oprah faded after dozens and hundreds of mediocre conversations with ‘John’ talking about his brilliant new idea that he had just taken off.
Gadgets can only get you so far. When your model relies on exclusivity, it will die in the eyes of the masses.
Unfortunately, Clubhouse appears to be going the Google+ route, unless it again becomes something more than just another place for marketers and pitchpeople to sell their wares to you.
If you think there is hope for this platform underdog, I’d love to hear from you. In all fairness, I hope Clubhouse survives. I really enjoy small chats on big topics, but it has to be conversation for the sake of the conversation. If sales and marketing overwhelm Clubhouse, it will not survive.
Feel free to tweet me @adriandayton with your shots on Clubhouse and what’s to come.