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What Is Airchat and How to Get an Invite

Airchat Invite

Social Media Management

18 Apr 2024 • 7 min read •

Ellie Innis

Everyone's talking about the exclusive, invite-only, audio-based app called Airchat. We'll cover what it is, why it's important for social media marketers, and how to score an invite.

It's happening. Another social app has entered the chat. Airchat is an invite-only audio-based social app that's getting lots of buzz this week. It's been around since 2023, but up until now only a few thousand people have signed up for the app via an invite from a contact. Mentions of Airchat exploded this month, and more journalists, tech leaders, and social media aficionados are talking about it than ever before. In fact, it has jumped by 30,000 users since its marketing relaunch earlier this month.

If you work in social media marketing, you've watched this hype train chug by at least a dozen times before. Is Airchat just another Clubhouse or Periscope? Or does it have a unique enough selling point to hit the mainstream? Let's get into it.

What is Airchat?

Airchat is an invite-only, audio-focused social network that's completely based on voice notes. Users record and post voice notes, which are then transcribed to text through AI. This means you can both read through your feed – just like you would on X (Twitter) or Threads – or you can play the audio of your feed. Airchat's hands-free ability to play through your entire feed means you can simply hear what people are talking about without having to read text, scroll through a feed, or even look at your screen.

What is AirchatAirchat's channel feed showing voice notes posted to the "Swifties" channel. Of course there's already a Taylor Swift forum! 

Airchat was founded by Naval Ravikant, who founded AngelList (the investment app for startups), and Brian Norgard, who used to be the Chief Product Officer at Tinder (the dating app that needs no introduction).

How does Airchat work?

Airchat works similarly to text-based social networks like X (Twitter) or Threads. The caveat is that all the content is based on recorded voice notes, hence the app's tagline: "Just talk."

Here's what you can currently do on Airchat: 

  • Record voice notes – You can record audio-only voice notes by holding down the record button and talking. When you’re done recording, release the record button. The app will immediately post your voice note with an AI text transcription. There’s currently no way to edit voice notes — if you’re not happy with a recording, you will have to delete it and re-record. We're still not sure how long voice notes can be: some sources are reporting up to 45 seconds of audio, but based on our own testing you can record for over one minute.

What is Airchat

Here's what your profile looks like on Airchat. It shows all the voice notes you've posted in chronological order. The Highlights tab shows any of your own notes that you've starred, and the Bookmarks tab shows any posts or threads that you've bookmarked.

  • Record video notes – You can also record video notes. To record a video note, select "video" under the record button. When you hold down the record button, your front-facing camera will turn on and capture the video of you speaking (there's no way to switch to your back camera). Release the record button and your video note will post to your feed with an AI text transcription. Like audio notes, you cannot edit video notes. Your video will play next to your voice note in the small circle where your profile picture usually appears. The tiny video size reinforces that video is not the main focus of the app. 
  • Continuous feed playing – Airchat will play through your entire feed, cycling through the audio of every voice note that has populated in your feed, within a channel, or in a thread that you have open.
  • Text transcription – Airchat uses AI to automatically transcribe your voice notes. The AI works fast, and we didn't notice any mistakes in transcription (though we didn't test very complicated recordings.)
  • Upload images – Once you record a voice or video note, you can upload an image to accompany it. You will need to give Airchat permission to access your photo library, then you can attach up to one picture. The picture will appear under your text transcript, but there's no way to click on the picture in order to open or enlarge it.
  • Like, repost, and bookmark voice notes – You can heart a post and/or repost it to your feed. You can also press and hold a voice note to bookmark it. Reposts will show up on your personal feed, and bookmarks will show up on your personal page under the "bookmarks" tab.
  • Replies and threads – You can reply to any voice note by clicking on it and then recording a response. This will create a thread similar to those on X (Twitter) or Threads, and your voice reply+text transcription will post into the thread with the original voice note.
  • Direct messaging – You can start a private voice note conversation with anyone that follows you.
  • Channels – You can join channels related to hobbies, interests, fandoms, sports, etc. There’s only a handful right now, and it’s unclear how to create your own channel.

How channels work on Airchat

A selection of the channels you can join on Airchat.

  • Search – You can use Airchat’s search feature to search for users, channels, and content within voice notes.
  • Text translation – Airchat is also testing Babelchat, a translation tool that can translate voice recordings into another language. It's not accessible on the current version of Airchat, but Ravikant demoed the tool in 2023. In this video you can see Japanese, Korean, German, French, and other speakers' languages being translated into English text in real time. We don't know enough about it right now, but this could be a very powerful selling point for Airchat in the future.

What's all the hype about Airchat?

Airchat enthusiasts argue that there are two important features that make the app make stand out: 

1. The voice-based nature of the app encourages real conversation

Airchat's early adopters are excited about the app because it promotes conversation over broadcasting. They argue that other social media sites are built for one-sided output, while Airchat is built for output and input, i.e. conversation. The hope is that this creates a forum for discourse and ideas rather than a stage for performance.

If you use the play button to listen to your home page feed, you'll end up hearing a lot of different voice notes from a lot of different people on a lot of different topics. App creator Naval Ravikant has described this as "a dinner party in your pocket," where you can pop into and duck out of several different conversations in a short period of time. 

When you playback the voice notes on a channel, or in a thread, the content is much more focused. This ends up sounding like actual conversation, almost as if you're streaming a podcast (except there's no host and way more participants).

The voice note format might also encourage more nuanced, thoughtful dialogue than text-based threads. People don't always think before they type, but they might think before they hit record on a voice memo. Could this lead to more civil debate on social media? Who knows — maybe Airchat is the end of being mean on the internet. (It never hurts to dream!)

Others argue that Airchat will run into the same problems that lead to the break down of conversation on any other social app. As Amanda Silbering of TechCrunch puts it, "AirChat isn’t a normal social situation, since you’re in conversation with thousands of other people; without more robust content moderation, this approach is like hosting a big music festival, but with only one person working security."

Moderation is the kryptonite of all social platforms, and it's unclear how Airchat plans to handle the enforcement of community standards on the app.

2. Async voice notes make users more comfortable

Airchat users post voice notes asyncronously; in other words, they post whenever they want, independent of any other user. This is pretty much how all social platforms work, except one: Clubhouse. Airchat has been compared to pandemic-era audio-based social app Clubhouse, but the comparison is not apples to apples. Though Clubhouse has since pivoted to a voice-based messaging app for friends, it started with a focus on audio broadcasting. Users joined rooms where they spoke live to everyone else in the room. Even from the safety of a screen, this style of broadcasted public speaking was a hard sell (especially since it encouraged some nasty internet bullying).

Airchat's async audio approach takes away some of the scariness of putting your voice out there on the internet. In a 2023 Airchat-based interview with YourStory, Ravikant also says that "...the asynchronous nature of [Airchat] just allows me to talk to multiple people at the same time. Obviously, you could do the same thing on WhatsApp or Signal, but you couldn't do it with public forums."

How do I get an Airchat invite?

Airchat is currently invite-only. Invites are shared via phone number. There are a few ways to get an invitation:

  • Let Airchat access your contacts: Download the app and allow it to access your contacts. The app will let you know if any of your contacts are currently on the app and can send you an invite.
  • Tap your larger network: Go beyond your phone contacts to find invites in your larger network. The easiest way to do this is by posting on LinkedIn, Threads, X (Twitter), or any other social network. Who knows – someone in your circle might be a super-connected early adopter? Maybe you know someone who knows someone who writes about tech? 
  • Look for Airchat evangelists: Search for Airchat on X (Twitter), BlueSky, or LinkedIn and you’re sure to find a few early adopters who are excited about the app and want to share. That's how the Loomly Marketing team scored our first invites! Users get 20 invites to hand out, so it’s a game of exponential growth. 
  • Reach out to the Loomly team! We have some invites to go around! DM Sarah or Ellie on LinkedIn and we’ll send an invite if we have any available. (We’ll remove this call-out once we run out.)

Should my business be on Airchat?

Time will tell how the app performs once it's made public and accessible to anyone who wants to join. For now you don't need to scramble to get your business on the app before it’s available to the public. It's always important to experiment with an app before you make a call about its place in your marketing mix, so if you work in marketing and can score an invite, we recommend you start with a personal account and poke around the app to see how it works.

Apps often remain invite-only in their early days to clean up bugs, figure out user policies, test what their servers can handle, etc. An invite-only app has an inherently small user base that stays relatively small. If you’re thinking about using it for anything other than personal experimentation, its limited audience probably won't drive the results you want. Plus, it's unclear how Airchat will handle businesses on its platform. It's easy to imagine that audio ads, like the ones you hear on podcasts, could become a key revenue source for the app. But the creators continue to emphasize conversation as the main focus, which means that your businesses' Airchat content will need to emphasize real, authentic community engagement and dialogue.

Ultimately, your decision to adopt Airchat will be based on your ideal audience. If they're using the app for conversation, it could be a wonderful new way to put the people of your business front-and-center and make genuine connections that lead to brand loyalty. If your audience isn't on the app, well, you'll be talking to crickets. 

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