The newest social media app on the scene is an invite-only platform called Clubhouse. With its exclusivity and limitation to iPhones (for now), there are a lot of questions about this new app and what it brings to the table.
Get a quick overview of Clubhouse and learn if it’s worth your time and attention!
What is Clubhouse?
Where most social media has gone highly visual with photos, videos, stories, and reels, Clubhouse has gone in a different direction. Perhaps inspired by the popularity of podcasts, Clubhouse is all audio, with no visuals at all except for users' profile photos.
Users can join virtual rooms to listen in on panel discussions happening in real time.
How do you find conversations? When you create your account, you'll be prompted to select some topics of interest. Then, the app will notify you when there are conversations in progress that you might be interested in. The more users and clubs you follow, the more suggestions you’ll receive.
Anyone has the opportunity to start a conversation on Clubhouse, but the most popular rooms host celebrities and influencers. The app leverages FOMO to encourage people to stay tuned. When the chat ends, that's that — there are no recordings of conversations, so there's no way to revisit them. (Although some users record the conversations outside the app, posting juicy bits to YouTube or Instagram…the internet is forever!)
But it's not strictly passive. If you'd like to chime in, you can “raise your hand” by touching an icon, and the moderator has the option to invite you to the virtual stage. You may be able to add your thoughts, or ask a question of one of the panelists.
People, Rooms, and Clubs
Once you gain access to the app, you can follow friends and clubs. Clubs are groups themed around a central topic, like startups, women in business, marketing, music, healthy lifestyle, and more. Clubs will host their own rooms, either as one-offs or at pre-set times. Some clubs even have recurring weekly rooms that users can add to their schedules.
Up to 5,000 Clubhouse users can gather in one room, so these parties can certainly get large!
And of course, you can start your own rooms. You can host a public room that anyone can join, or create a closed room if you want to have a private chat with your friends. Once you've hosted a room at least three times, you'll be eligible to create your own club.
Becoming a Member of Clubhouse
Unlike most social media sites where all you have to do is sign up, Clubhouse is invite-only. Once you’re invited, you’ll receive two invites of your own that you can use to invite your friends. But that hasn’t stopped the site from growing exponentially — from 200,000 users in November 2020 to 6 million in February 2021.
If you’re interested in joining, you should create a profile now — even without an invitation. This way you can secure your username. And if a friend sees that you have a username but no account, they may get pinged that you're waiting for an invitation and obligingly offer you one.
But one caveat — Clubhouse is only available on iPhone right now. They are currently working on an Android app, but they rolled out on iPhone first to keep growth modest and manageable.
A Controversial Club
Like most other social media platforms, Clubhouse seems to have a problem with moderation and protecting its users. Accusations of hate speech have cropped up in several rooms, and the impermanent nature of the platform makes it particularly hard to monitor.
While the founders have updated their community guidelines, there is a large concern that they don't do enough to ban or suspend accounts that get flagged for inappropriate conduct. While this could be looked at as the growing pains of a new app, we only have to look at Facebook to see how quickly social media moderators can be overwhelmed if they're not proactive.
And even before conversations veer into the offensive, they can quickly lose focus. Many Clubhouse rooms are run by people with very little experience in managing an interview or panel, so they can become muddled. Sometimes the results are entertaining, and sometimes they're a waste of time.
Should You Join Clubhouse?
With all the social media networks out there, do you really need another one? Do we really need another reason to be tied to our phones?
Clubhouse can be valuable for networking and catching bits of wisdom from business experts and lifestyle influencers. It's worth exploring, if only to see what all the fuss is about. But if you're already overwhelmed with social media apps and the thought of adding another gives you anxiety, you can skip it.
That being said, if you’re building a personal brand, Clubhouse may be a great option. It isn’t overrun with users yet, and early adopters may have the best chance of growing their followings and reaching Clubhouse fame. Maybe Clubhouse moderators will be the next Instagram influencers!
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