What is Clubhouse? Should I jump onboard the latest social media craze?
‘Clubhouse : Drop-in audio chat’ is a social media app currently only available on iphones. It’s where people can chat verbally in real time or listen to others chat about any topic which interests them. It’s like listening to a radio program where the brave can ‘raise their hand’ and participate.
“It’s a place for connecting authentically with other humans… not gaining likes or follows,” says co-founder and CEO of Clubhouse Paul Davison to Emily Chang of Bloomberg Technology.
Clubhouse started only last year. According to CNBC, in May 2020 the social media app had 1,500 users and was already worth $100 million. By the end of 2020 Clubhouse had one million downloads, per Apptopia. It is still in beta testing. Elon Musk, Operah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher are some of the celebrities that have jumped on board early.
The app has a feeling of exclusivity as it’s still in beta testing phase. Members need to be invited, and invitations are limited to a select few. And, that’s if you own an iphone.
Participants can enter and leave virtual rooms, which are scheduled beforehand in a calendar. Due to the algorithm, you’ll be offered chat rooms based on your interests, work and friends. In the rooms, they might be discussing beauty, tech, culture or music.
Why is Clubhouse so popular?
The big appeal is listening to your favourite celebrities in real time, usually unscripted talking about an issue that interests you. If you feel game enough, you can even press the ‘raise your hand’ button to ask a question. It’s that intimate feeling that has many hooked.
If you prefer to moderate a discussion privately between friends, or partially open it to people you follow, then that’s an option too.
Can businesses or NFP benefit from Clubhouse?
Voice is a medium that can grab the imagination and emotion of people, especially if the listener knows it’s in real time. NFPs can harness this feature of the app to raise awareness and drive for action, which was difficult to convey on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Subscriptions, ticketed events and even tips can all be monetised. This gives the moderators an incentive to produce great content
What are the Pros and Cons?
The lack of in-person events due to Covid may have helped generate interest in the app. Only time will tell. But voice in real time is a more intimate way to connect, which users find appealing.
Members can drop in or out of rooms, or even ‘ping’ people they think might find a room interesting. This ability to create meaningful conversations, share information and create communities is what attracts people to the platform.
The app is very strict on their users not recording content. But, where do they draw the line? The British publication Metro reported on a comment by Elon Musk in ‘The Good Time Show’ on Clubhouse about memes. Is that a form of recording? Musk’s comments on Clubhouse have also been repeated on Twitter.
Clubhouse also recognise the spreading of harmful content may be a concern. To combat this, they’ve taken a three pronged approach, called people, policy, product. They have internal and external policies on the usage of the app. Also users can block or report other users or an incident.
Should Clubhouse be included in your social media marketing toolkit?
It’s still early days for Clubhouse, so only time will tell if the social media app is here to stay. Clubhouse is limiting the number of members in Beta testing phase to protect the current user experience. The app developers are conscious of expanding too rapidly with potential bugs getting out of control.
When the developer, Alpha Exploration Co opens Clubhouse to Android users and the world, it will be interesting to see how these issues play out. In the meantime, we can only wait for the elusive invite or if you have one, start making those connections now.