Then last remnants of Meta’s social audio push are being swept away, with audio channels in groups to be removed as an option after this month.
As you can see in this notification, shared by Radu Onescu, Meta is now alerting groups users that audio channels are going away, with members no longer able to create new audio channels in groups from this week.
It’s essentially the last remaining element of Meta’s audio social push, which it made a big emphasis in the wake of Clubhouse’s meteoric rise to fame in early 2021. In April that year, Meta announced a range of social audio features, including audio-only Rooms, new support features for podcasts, and ‘Soundbites’, which enabled users to create short-form audio clips using a range of effects.
Meta has since canceled all of these projects. That, in large part, reflects the declining popularity of audio-only interaction options, with Clubhouse’s popularity continuing to bottom out, and other social audio options either being shelved or de-prioritized in other apps.
But it’s also a part of Meta’s broader cost-cutting measures, which has seen it move away from a range of projects, as it looks to refine its focus, and reduce costs.
Indeed, this week, Meta announced a new round of job cuts, which will see 10,000 roles culled from the organization. That’s in addition to the 11,000 jobs Meta already cut in November last year, and with so many people being moved on, it’s inevitable that some projects are going to also be canceled within its broader re-organization.
In retrospect, it’s now clear that the sudden rise of audio social was a pandemic-induced fad, providing another way for people to get that much-needed human connection, in a less intrusive, and in many ways, more intimate form.
That’s not to say it’s gone completely – Clubhouse does still have a dedicated user base, and there are some communities that have gleaned huge value from these audio meeting elements. But as a general, broad appeal option, the demand is just not there, which is why most apps are now moving on, and cutting the costs associated with supporting live audio elements.
For Meta specifically, this has been a long time coming. It retired most of these tools in May last year, with audio channels in groups almost making it to another birthday. But now, it’s time has come, which will eliminate one more element from your engagement options within Facebook groups.
That, really, leaves just Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse as the final pieces standing from what was once seen as the next billion-dollar opportunity. Right now, it seems like both of those will remain – but then again, Clubhouse could run out of money, and who knows what’s coming next at Twitter 2.0.
It’s interesting to see how fast the tide can shift, and how quickly these huge trends can rise and fall. It’s another reminder to ensure you don’t put too much emphasis on any one channel – while also keeping in mind that trends are just that, until they’ve stood the relevant test of time.