The first thing I thought of when I heard about the new Clubhouse was “great, another social media app I’ll be talked into downloading”. The thing is though, Clubhouse is not just another social media network. In fact, I don’t know of anything else even similar.
The best way to describe Clubhouse is its part Zoom meeting, part podcast, and part conference sessions. It’s like if you were attending a convention you’re excited about and could attend a session on a subject you’re passionate about with speakers who know their stuff. That’s Clubhouse in a nutshell.
The app is not video which may lend something to its popularity. Rather than needing to hold a smartphone camera up to watch the speaker, you can place the phone down on the table while you’re doing something else. In that way, it’s like a live podcast. Speakers don’t just host a “room” as they’re called, they speak and introduce other speakers or people they follow. One of the rooms I visited was on Democracy in the United States with a couple of hundred other listeners where people talked about what to expect now that the election is over.
I found the speakers were not taking hard political stances one way or the other, but discussing the issues. It was the most refreshing thing I’ve heard in weeks. Maybe months. The speaker and those speaking were intelligent and shared their thoughts and opinions without seeming to try to convince the people listening to come over to their way of thinking.
I also stopped by a room helping new users understand how to use the Clubhouse app. Last night my visit was to a room talking about Bitcoin and what investors believe the price will do next. I’m scheduled to drop in on a room where people talk about music later tonight and tomorrow there’s a room scheduled to hear people discuss their businesses and how they grew followers.
Let me tell you, if you find the right room, you can listen for hours. One room host remarked they had been going on for over 12 hours with different hosts and speakers popping in. There are rooms for discussing Faith, Entertainment, Business, Biology, Sports, and beer. Popular on the weekends for the moment are rooms where football fans talk about the playoffs and who they are starting on their fantasy team.
Kristen McCall, a friend of mine in real life, has been using Clubhouse for about a month. She’s a marketer and business coach and believes it will help grow her followers while helping others like her.
“I definitely would say it’s marketer heavy, creator heavy, like content creator heavy right now because they tend to be the early adopters,” she said. McCall also explained who she thinks will enjoy the app, “If you go to a conference and you’re the networker that loves to meet new people, Clubhouse is going to be the social platform for you.”
It’s the social media app we need during what is (hopefully) the waning months of the pandemic. People using the app have been unable to attend workshops and conferences and maybe haven’t even spoken to many people in almost a year.
“Clubhouse” is invitation only, which also might explain some of the appeal (remember how you wanted to visit someone’s clubhouse as a kid?) Some 600,000 people have signed up. People who are using the app can invite a small number of friends to the app and the more active you are, the more invitations you get.
McCall suggests the best way to engage with the app is to search for and find people with some expertise in what you’re interested in, and follow them to hear or visit the rooms they’ll be in. Then follow some of the speakers and participants who are active in the sessions (I mean rooms).
“Clubhouse” is a free app and I imagine users are already thinking about how they can monetize their groups and rooms. There’s only an iPhone version at the moment but once the app is out of beta, the developers will likely add an Android version.