It’s not even a year old yet, and yet this new social media app has managed to pave its way through the crowded internet landscape to become one of the most talked-about platforms to date.
Clubhouse is an exclusive, invite-only audio platform. What sets it apart is its mode of communication – audio, which differentiates it from traditional social networking sites such as the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok.
Huge names from the media, music and technology sphere are endorsing it, and in January alone there were 2.3 million downloads. If Drake, Jared Leto and Mark Zuckerburg are on it, you can count on the fact that their vast number of fans are on it too.
What exactly is Clubhouse?
Created by Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse describes itself as a “new type of network based on voice”. where people from all over the world can “meet with friends and with new people around the world to tell stories, ask questions, debate, learn, and have impromptu conversations on thousands of different topics.” Essentially, it’s a podcast on drugs – live, unfiltered conversations about anything under the sun. These audio activities typically comprise interviews, panel events and wide-ranging discussions.
The app attempts to imitate the spontaneity that parties, speaking engagement and social interactions we once possessed before the global lockdown. It hopes to create somewhat of an audio village, one that is bustling with interesting conversations, networking opportunities and space where like-minded people can converse with one another. All you need is to score an invite.
How does it function?
Clubhouse has a relatively simple interface that is easy to navigate. You can look at your calendar to find conversations based on your passions and interests, which you identify at sign-up.
You can also browse the “rooms” with discussions that are currently ongoing. These rooms can be public or private, you can choose to join in the conversation or quietly listen, and you can easily enter and leave rooms.
Clubhouse is currently in beta and unfortunately only available on iOS. The app is invite-only – iPhone users can download the app, reserve a username and join the waitlist. But without an invite text, there isn’t much you can do yet.
Nevertheless, Clubhouse states that they are “working to make it available to the world as quickly as possible.” As for now, the easiest way to score an invite is to ask your social network.
Why is Clubhouse so appealing?
Firstly, audio is an incredibly personal medium. People’s tone of voice conveys emotion, personality and expression in a way that mere text and images do not alone.
Hearing from others also incites empathy and understanding, which are useful when one is talking about difficult topics such as mental health or political discourse.
Second, there is space to manoeuvre around events and different conversations, ranging from sports, beauty, lifestyle and so forth. No matter how obscure your interests are, someone is talking about it, and there is always a niche community just for you.
The array of conversations are also useful when you want to transition from listening to an insightful but exhausting debate to something mindless but easy to hear.
Finally, audio is perfect for multitasking. People can listen to Clubhouse whilst doing chores, commuting, or doing some light paperwork. In this fast-paced day and age, and especially at a time where so many of us are deprived of real human contact, Clubhouse accommodates our busy lifestyles and mimics lively human background interactions.
That’s all fine and dandy, but how can I use Clubhouse for my brand?
Figuring another social media platform is difficult, let alone one as new and fresh as Clubhouse. Nevertheless, the myriad of opportunities that Clubhouse offers is something that you and your brand wouldn’t want to miss.
1. Establish your brand as an industry expert
Discuss relevant topics, host panel discussions, and collaborate with other experts to share how you can add value to your followers. Situating your brand as an industry leader opens your business up to questions and comments that will help build organic engagement.
2. Trends and Testings
Clubhouse gives you access to a curated feed of industry news and consumer trends, which you can optimise and build up an engaging content strategy to use across all your platforms. It’s also a great opportunity to test our new ideas, such as webinars and podcast topics, and use this time to gather valuable feedback and customer sentiments. Subsequently, leverage on these trending topics and build excitement within your community for upcoming launches and brand news.
3. Creating a community.
Build your following by participating in rooms, asking questions and contributing to conversations. Room members are likely to take notice and check out your profile. In your room, talk about what your business does, who your services help, and what problems you are passionate about solving. Always strive to develop meaningful and long-term relationships with your customer base and gradually grow your sphere of influencer
Clubhouse: Yay or Nay?
Followers on the app are not subjected to a vanity metric and it is free for all to chime in. A.K.A, it levels the playing field – everyone’s voice is heard, not just those with a huge following or who are physically attractive. Whilst there are some rooms hosted by influencers and celebrities, most rooms consist of day to day discussions. The value you add to the table doesn’t come from your name but your content.
2. Removing the friction of face-to-face video
Being a mere dialogue platform, it prevents the need to look camera-ready all the time and allows users to focus primarily on the content that is being spoken. Furthermore, it reduces screen fatigue, you need not stare at your screen to participate. Clubhouse is flexible in that you can choose to listen passively or can be fully engaged in an interactive discussion.
1. Unregulated space
People can say whatever they want – which has repercussions in terms of the perpetuation of fake news, and this may potentially cause conspiracy theories to run amok. It also fuels harassment, racism, misogyny and hate speeches. Even though these are against Clubhouse’s community guidelines, the app relies on individuals to self-moderate and has not found an effective way to hold its users accountable.
2. Privacy and security concerns
Recently, Stanford Internet Observatory revealed security flaws that meant user data was vulnerable and accessible to the Chinese government, which may fall foul of data protection rules in Europe, known as GDPR. This has implications on users’ privacy, and there is growing concern that users hand over the contact details of everyone they know when they sign up.
Clubhouse is only available for iPhone users, disregarding 70% of the world on Android. Not tapping on such a large part of the global market means that it is missing out on attractive opportunities that could fast track it’s way to being one of the most influential social platforms of all time. Furthermore, it’s an invite-only platform that is troublesome and deters more people from joining the app.
Harnessing the audio trend
With the increasing popularity of podcasts and streaming platforms like Spotify and Discord, Clubhouse aligns itself in the intersection of real human relationships through the medium of voice. It encourages genuine human interactions through often challenging but necessary conversations. This is Clubhouse’s secret recipe because human beings will always feel compelled to connect and tell their stories.
Will the hype last? Well, we all know how temperamental the internet is. Whether the app can keep its trending spot, only time will tell.