A remarkable experiment in social media is happening now: being social through audio chat.

People are discovering the joys of drop-in audio chat after a year of attending virtual events and contending with at-home restrictions. Drop-in audio chat consists of an app platform in which listeners can join virtual rooms to listen and speak on various topics. It combines the best of talk radio and instant messaging, making it possible for people to join in conversation with their favorite host or guest.

Clubhouse kicked off this trend in April 2020, with a reported 8 million downloads and 2 million active weekly users as of this January according to CEO Paul Davison. Competitors like Twitter Spaces followed soon after (see how Spaces stacks up against Clubhouse), but the one with the greatest potential to elevate B2B marketing strategies is Spotify Greenroom. Spotify provides a way for its podcasters to further connect with audiences. B2B marketers already involved in podcasting can gain significant engagement benefits as well.

The Basics on Spotify Greenroom   

The layout of the Greenroom app is similar to Clubhouse, but with a dark theme (more like dark green). You can search for a room in a hallway. A hallway operates the same way as a mainstream in a social media platform where you'd go to find posts — but in this case, you are searching for virtual rooms. 

When you join a room you see a number of attendees profiles. Some attendees are on stage, a main area at the top of the room screen in which people take turns to speak. 

The other room visitors appear towards the lower end of the screen, as the audience listening in. Users can click on the app button and raise their hand to join the stage, as well as to turn on or mute their mic. Moderators, who are the room hosts, keep the discussion on the room topics moving along and allow visitors to join the stage and return to the audience.

One aspect I liked immediately is the microphone button is large and turns a different color to indicate if a mic is "hot" or muted.

Unique to Spotify Greenroom is Gems. Gems are profile scores, meant to be distinct form of social media like a Facebook like or "hearting" someone's tweet or Instagram post. You gain gems when room attendees double click on your profile image during a room session.

Best of all, moderators can record a room discussion, effectively creating a group podcast (Note: the moderator must announce the room is being recorded to give people the option to leave). This is one area where it differs from Clubhouse, which does not allow an in-app recording.

Related Article: Wondering About the Invite-Only Clubhouse App? Here's What All the Fuss Is About

Greenroom Experience Is Good, But There's Room for Improvement

I tested out the Greenroom app on my smartphone, a Samsung Note9. I liked the sound quality of the rooms — both Greenroom and Clubhouse compare equally, though this is just a subjective impression. Some parts still feel too beta but I can say the same for Clubhouse. Twitter Spaces by comparison feels really good for a newly launched product, but it's integrated into an app and platform which has had plenty of time to be refined.

Learning Opportunities

Greenroom feels extremely easy to use on the go, which is the exact appeal of drop-in audio chats.

Although Greenroom currently offers iOS users a social media link, my Android Greenroom app indicated social media links were forthcoming on the platform. In contrast, Clubhouse users can link either to their Twitter or Instagram profiles. Having links enhances your social media network. Usually during a room chat in Clubhouse people will click on Twitter or Instagram to continue to follow the person. The same happens on Greenroom, so having the links can be a great way of building on an existing social media audience strategy.

Many of the current rooms on Greenroom can feel super-casual — chalk that up to the podcasters who have adopted Greenroom. Regardless, the fact that room attendees can participate in a live discussion makes it more interesting than passively following a hashtag on twitter or listening to a radio broadcast. A B2B marketing team should see the multiple opportunities here, from seeing how real a podcast influencer is when speaking to people live, to expanding a brand-hosted podcast to speak to customers after a panel discussion.

Related Article: What's Working in B2B Social Media Marketing?

Drop-In Audio Chat Is a Boon to B2B Marketing

Connecting drop-in audio chat with podcasts opens quite a few marketing doors. Podcasts are terrific at retaining audience attention and encouraging the kind of interest that could potentially lead to a sale. A virtual social room can enhance customer engagement because it permits people to easily ask complex questions and gain meaningful answers.    

Savvy marketers have noticed the strong podcast listener interest. As a result, demand for podcast advertising budgets has skyrocketed. eMarketer upgraded its estimated rise in ad spend, expecting podcast ad spending to reach over $1 billion this year and $2 billion by 2023. Spotify already introduced ads to the platform, which I explain here. By hosting chats in the same platform, Spotify builds on its strengths.

As social distancing rules have begun to relax, marketers are starting to evaluate and incorporate the most successful elements of virtual events.

With Spotify Greenroom, marketers gain one of the best virtual event opportunities, a meaningful chance to provide a cohesive experience that leads to a highly engaged community.