Clubhouse app buzz
Clubhouse is the Billie Eilish of the social media apps. It’s new, startling popular, and un-phased by current trends. On the outside, Clubhouse is that cool kid, the one that doesn’t try too hard for attention.
But on the inside, Clubhouse is a delightful gathering of conversations about shared interests.
Usually, a brand’s website showcases their best, but Clubhouse’s….
…offers a waving emoji hand, their name, and a vague message about “opening up.” That’s it.
Psychological warfare on those of us who have FOMO?
Trying to scale as a startup?
Maybe it’s all the above. Regardless, Clubhouse is here.
So, what exactly is Clubhouse?
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse calls itself a “Drop-in audio chat” app.
I like Hubspot’s succinct definition of Clubhouse:
Launched in April 2020, Clubhouse came at a perfect time when people needed connection during lockdown. Though some feel Clubhouse is a “glorified conference call,” others have delighted in how it democratizes conversation.
The app’s earliest adopters included celebrities and influencers like Drake, Oprah Winfrey, and others. Clubhouse targeted the elite to create a mass appeal effect. It’s worked.
With over 6 million users, 10 million downloads, and a valuation of $1 billion, Clubhouse is more than a fresh-face in the social media-verse.
CNET describes their success as “hurtling into unicorn status.”
Who can join Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is exclusive to iOS and invite-only.
If interested, ask around on your other social media channels to see who has an invite.
Just don’t pay for a Clubhouse invite — The NY Times reported eBay listings for $89 per Clubhouse invite! 😮 Invites are not that scarce. I asked on Facebook and found someone within 10 minutes.
No stress here, folks.
How do I use Clubhouse?
Well, you use it to talk to people who share your interests.
Clubhouse members can find a “Room” to join based on interests and connections. Here’s a Clubhouse room on “Affiliate Marketing” I dropped-in on…
The pictured members up top are the hosts and moderators of the Room.
Speaking of “members,” here are some need-to-know Clubhouse terms:
Clubs are user-created interest groups. Like a subreddit, forum channel, or fav hashtag you follow on Twitter, “Clubs” are exactly what their name implies.
For instance, below is a list of “parenting” Clubs with their focus and number of followers…
Rooms are hosted, live conversations initiated by a Club (or individual).
Here’s a Room called “Gen Z Link-up”…
The hosts and moderators are on the Stage up top. As you scroll down, you will see members of the Group and the listeners in the Room.
A nice feature of Clubhouse is that you can easily follow new people from the Room screen.
Members are those who’ve joined Groups.
You can also recommend others to join a Group by clicking on their photos within a Room or by searching for someone on the Clubhouse dashboard.
How civil is Clubhouse?
Compared to Facebook and other social apps, Clubhouse seems civil so far. Then again, I’ve not used it much compared to others (more on their experiences later!).
So far, the Rooms I’ve joined have been pleasant. Clubhouse’s design promotes turn-taking and civil conversation…
Not enjoying a conversation or gotta go? There’s a “Leave Quietly” button to slide out of the conversation. I like how there’s no pressure to stay if you don’t want to. (Image A)
Have someone to invite? Tap the plus sign to “ping” someone who’s active on Clubhouse. (Image B)
Want to join the conversation? Tap the raised hand button to get in the queue to join on The Stage. (Image C)
Hate interruptions? Everyone takes turn speaking, and the app automatically mutes microphones. It’s not a massive chat room where everyone can talk at once. Instead, the moderators have to invite you onto the Stage once you’ve raised your hand.
As an educator I appreciate the “accountable talk” features built into a Clubhouse Room.
Clubhouse growing pains and cons
Like any social media app, Clubhouse has some major flaws. Here are a few big ones…
1. BULLYING ON CLUBHOUSE
Like a middle school lunchroom, conversations are not always civil. In fact, The NY Times reported a variety of abuses and bullying:
I haven’t witnessed this yet (so far the rooms I’ve joined have been refreshingly professional). But my experience is limited.
The above cases reveal a need for stronger oversight to keep things respectful, honorable, and civil within Clubhouse.
2. CLUBHOUSE IS TOO EXCLUSIVE
The Clubhouse invite-only status feels like you’re waiting in line to enter a nightclub. Some get in. Some don’t. This is a turn-off for some who just want to enjoy connecting without a cliquish vibe.
Others have complained Clubhouse’s groups are exclusive of certain groups...
If Clubhouse is the place to go for hearing fresh voices, are they including and honoring all voices?
So far, it seems hit-or-miss.
3. CLUBHOUSE AUDIO IS TEMPORARY
Missed the Room conversation?
Clubhouse conversations are live, not on-demand. This could be a pro for those who prefer a more “face-to-face” experience. Clubhouse seems to promote genuine conversation — plus, they don’t want to pay to store all that recorded audio data.
But let’s say you have a business meeting, or have to take the kids somewhere. You can join in later if the Room is still live. Once the last moderator has closed the Room, there’s no way to get in or retrieve the audio later.
This is where podcasts have a leg-up on Clubhouse since you can listen to them when you want.
Is Clubhouse safe for kids or teens?
If you’re a parent, you’re probably thinking safety. I agree!
First, Clubhouse requires users to be at least 18. Its interface definitely targets adults. However, TODAY reported there is “no age verification tool, and there are at least some younger teenagers using the app.”
So far, Clubhouse isn’t the next TikTok, but it still needs parental oversight and restrictions for the young.
What about college-aged students and young adults?
I popped into a meet-up of Gen-Z professionals out of curiosity. Their conversation was bright, respectful, and inspiring. One pro of Clubhouse is it reveals the younger generation’s positive character and ability for kind dialogue.
But in its current form, Clubhouse is not safe (nor really made) for a younger audience. For instance, once you’ve followed someone, you can create a private room to chat with them. This feature would circumvent parental controls or filtering apps if a child or teen were to use Clubhouse.
🎱 What’s the future of Clubhouse?
They’re well-funded, growing in popularity, and are scooping in a multitude of diverse voices.
Twitter saw the threat and has since started “Twitter Spaces” to compete (you can read a full comparison with Clubhouse here).
Facebook is also creating their version of Clubhouse to get a piece of the market share. “Facebook executives have ordered employees to create a similar product” according to the NY Times, but we don’t know what that will look like yet.
So, what’s the future of Clubhouse?
::shakes Magic 8-Ball::
“Ask again later.”
Whether it will fade, get bought-out, or be the next social giant, remains unclear. For now, they’ve created something different and refreshing. Let’s hope they keep it civil and professional with the appropriate oversight.
As one Gen Z adult said in today’s Room: “You know, if it gets too big on here, I’m out. It has to stay high quality.”