SPAIN – 02/25/2021: In this photo illustration, a clubhouse app is also shown on a smartphone … [+]
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In 2020, the use of Zoom is expected to have increased to 300 million daily meeting participants. With much of the workforce away during the pandemic, it was no surprise that users flocked to video conferencing platforms to meet “face to face”.
But all the time “in front of the camera” meant that Homern’s work was cleverly shaped by “zoom fatigue”. Even Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, recently admitted seeing this phenomenon. Some of that fatigue comes from back-to-back meetings, but there is also an inherent exhaustion associated with standing in front of the camera.
Just ask Dr. Bailenson, the Stanford University professor who recently published the first peer-reviewed article exploring the psychological element of zoom fatigue. Dr. Bailenson’s research, which enrolled 10,591 participants, attributes nonverbal overload and four other causes to zoom fatigue, including: close-range viewing, cognitive overload, full-day mirror, and limited mobility.
Dr. Says Bailenson, “Part of the reason we get tired of all of these Zoom meetings is not just because of the presence of video, but also the quality of the audio and the way voices are delivered to our ears. Think about it : in the physical world, all the noises that we hear and process in our brain come from different places in a 3D environment. When you are at a cocktail party, several people can speak at the same time and still understand what everyone is saying. “
According to Dr. Bailenson, the same conversational strategy doesn’t work with Zoom. Here’s why: “Current video conferencing platforms cause cognitive overload. We have to work extra hard to distinguish who is speaking because all voices are coming from the same direction. Plus, zoom and most of the other conventional ones [voice over internet protocol] Solutions make it difficult to have a natural conversation as they “duck” all speakers to increase the clarity of the loudest. “
Dr. Bailenson makes the case that audio is the solution. He says, “Fortunately, it turns out that there is an audio solution to ‘Zoom Fatigue’ – spatial audio or 3D audio. Companies like High Fidelity are replacing conventional ones [voice over internet protocol] with high-quality, spatial audio that makes voices clearer and easier to understand, similar to being together in a physical room. ”
As Dr. Bailenson alludes, trends in digital media and elsewhere often trigger reactionary trends, and the rise of Zoom also sparked the rise of audio-only chat apps. First came Clubhouse, the invite-only audio chat app that allows users to communicate in voice chat rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 5,000 people. The audio-only app offers live discussions with the ability to participate by speaking and listening.
Influencers like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Kanye West flocked to the clubhouse early to host rooms, which helped increase the app’s popularity. Brands that ranged from the NFL to big beauty brands like Nars Cosmetics also participated in Clubhouse. Clubhouse’s popularity even sparked a wave of competitions: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Discord also announced new and upcoming real-time audio chat features.
And it’s not just audio chat apps that launch during the pandemic. The audio trend extends to podcasts as well. There is something intimate about hearing someone’s voice. According to Edison Research, 41% of Americans over the age of 12, or approximately 116 million users, are monthly podcast listeners, up from 37% last year. 80 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, up 24% from last year. “Familiarity” with podcasts also increased 75% year over year during the pandemic.
These audio usage metrics are mind-boggling and no doubt show that the trend is real – but the question remains: when the vaccine is rolled out and companies start dealing with going back to the office, will conference app use continue or will it return to meetings “IRL” moves users away from virtual meetings? Current data already show a decrease compared to the initial high of the clubhouse. Audio chat app downloads have reportedly dropped from their high of 9.6 million in February to about 900,000 downloads in April.
Even so, it is still too early to write about the decline of the clubhouse or the audio trend. After all, the clubhouse is expanding in a new way. Clubhouse recently launched a beta version for Android and introduced the first creator monetization feature called Payments, which allows users to send payments to creators.
Even if clubhouse usage continues to decline, users will likely benefit from the audio trend through other leading digital platforms. Just think of short-lived content. Snapchat was once synonymous with ephemeral content – now users are using the same “story” format on other platforms – notably Instagram, but also Facebook and LinkedIn. When other platforms adopt the new shiny functionality, users typically take advantage of it on the platforms where they already have built-in tracking and daily time.
When it comes to the audio trend by and large, COVID-19 has changed the network and the workplace forever. Marketers predict that the future of personal events will remain hybrid in a post-pandemic world. The merging of the virtual with the physical has an inherent competitive advantage: It balances exclusivity with scalability and offers time pressure professionals the opportunity to join a variety of media.
In addition to the events, employers also use the recruitment advantage of hybrid work arrangements and even permanent remote work. Yes, professionals will network personally again, but virtual conferences – in video, audio and even augmented reality – will be retained.