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What are Twitter Spaces and should Cultural Organisations be using them?

In December 2020, Twitter announced it would introduce a new feature that allows users to have audio conversations. A move that is a surprise to nobody after the recently deemed success of newcomer-platform Clubhouse, which is an audio-based app that launched last year, and created waves amongst professional and cultural communities alike. Spaces follows recent preferences for audio based content amongst users and platforms.

Starting as a ‘small experiment focused on the intimacy of the human voice’, the feature soon launched as a beta for select individuals to trial and feedback upon, with many using it as a way to further ignite conversations that were already happening in their feed. You may already be familiar with the purple bubble that signifies a Space exists. Sitting alongside Fleets, the motion graphic appears when someone you follow hosts or joins a live conversation.

Now, Spaces can be hosted by Twitter users with 600 or more followers, and anyone can join a space as a speaker or a listener.

Like many new social media features, you may want to try it out, or are at the least intrigued – so here’s everything you need to know. 

How to host a Space

There are two ways to start a Space, but both insist you do so on an iOS or Android device (you cannot host or speak within a Space on Web):

  •       Long press on Tweet compose and tap the new Spaces icon.
  •       Navigate to your Fleet’s profile image and scroll to the far right to activate a Space.

You’ll be asked to name your Space, and of course sticking to a given topic, or keeping the title concise enough to give your listeners a hint at what’s to come is key.

Once a Space has started, as the host you have a certain number of functions under your control, such as allowing mic access, inviting people to speak, switching on captions and ending the Space.

But technicalities aside, what’s important to remember is that spaces are public, and anyone can join as a listener should they find yours. That being said, only 11 people can be designated speakers at any given time, so it can be a good idea to think ahead as to who you might like to involve and invite them to the Space beforehand by DMing them a link.

Like lots of social media content, planning in advance is key. With Spaces being so new many users are still unfamiliar with the feature and so tweeting out information beforehand detailing when your Space may be, and how to join is vital. If you create a Scheduled Space, you can even tweet out a card that will ask users if they want to be reminded when it begins – interested parties will receive push and in-app notifications upon doing so. 

Should Museums and Cultural Organisations be using Spaces?

In what seems like a revolving door of new features, updates and trends, it can be exhausting keeping up. Whether you’re one to jump on new trends quickly in the hopes of virality, or ignore them completely until you’re worn down, it’s clear that Spaces and ClubHouse are similar enough that only one will prevail.

As many people have already flocked to ClubHouse to experience and host live audio conversations, it may seem like Twitter is late to the game – but they are actually at an advantage. With an already much larger user base, and no ‘invite-only’ policy, Twitter Spaces have the potential to tap into an audience you’ve already cultivated. You don’t have to work even harder to find new audiences for your audio content.

Equally, Twitter Spaces have been designed to interact with content that already exists, with the app allowing you to share tweets from across the platform into the Space for discussion. Meaning, you can even use the feature to amplify content you’ve already posted.

Other aspects that sets Spaces apart include the options to auto-caption speakers allowing for a much more accessible experience overall.

However, Spaces has mostly been taken up by individual users so far, rather than organisations and business pages. This could be a reflection on how users have already seen audio conversations being used, after all, ClubHouse is rife with professional communities and is popular in igniting industry-specific conversations. But could also be an indication of the demise of business profiles across social media, as users and platforms develop further preference for individual creators.

That’s not to say that the museums and cultural organisation accounts that you may manage couldn’t host a Space, and doing so could actually boost your overall engagement, with Twitter thought to reward accounts who use new features. 

Whilst there’s been little upkeep so far within the industry, it’s not difficult to imagine a future where ‘digital after parties’ for exhibition launches; panel discussions hosted by academics or even Q&As with selected artists/creators could exist on Spaces, and being the first to try this content type out can’t hurt. 

About the author – Hollie Hilton

Hollie Hilton is a Freelance Social Media Strategist and Digital Content Producer who works exclusively with Artists and Art-led businesses such as galleries, grassroots organisations, tech start-ups and charities, to help create compelling digital content that reaches new audiences. She also writes and hosts workshops to help Artists navigate online spaces and expand their digital presence.

Her degree in History of Art and experience working in-house for a gallery’s marketing and communications team, encouraged Hollie to use her skills and contextual knowledge to make Art and Culture more accessible to audiences that are often excluded or intimidated by it, and equip Artists with skills that help them achieve greater independence in the marketing and storytelling of their work.

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