A low-down on the app du jour, Clubhouse: an invite-only, podcast party mashup, perfect for giving people an audible soapbox. But, is that a good thing?
Clubhouse has already secured special guest content creators like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and (potentially) Kanye West. Chances are, it’s probably doing pretty well for itself. Up until February (2021), it was also scandal-free; a running record for social media giants. But all good things come to an end. Recent news of a content leak has raised serious privacy concerns – certainly not something users want to hear about the (supposedly) private, invite-only app.
What Even Is Clubhouse?
If you don’t already know, people are calling it the “Soho House of social”. Clubhouse is sort of like an exclusive podcast party. The app is invite-only, but once you’re in, you can hop into any room where people are chatting, create a new public room, or create a private room. Groups of people chat with a few moderators. To speak, you raise your hand and wait your turn – a little like school! There’s no video, no text-based chat (it’s strictly audio based, for now). It’s also only available on Apple devices, so people using Android or laptops will have to wait.
The app provides big opportunity for intimate discussions, panel events and networking. And, just like a phone call, once the conversation is over, the room is closed. Unlike Twitch, where live-streamed videos stay on the platform for people to re-watch, Clubhouse’s live audio-chats disappear. The idea is that it can mimic real-life interactions. New social platforms with similar aims emerge fairly often, but few stick like this app du jour. Clubhouse emerged in April 2020 with just 3.5K users, and has quickly grown to over 2M in just under 10 months – and it’s still in beta.
How To Get Going
To have a valuable – and controllable – Clubhouse experience, you have to be tactical with who you follow. When you join, you select topics of interest, like tech, books, business or health. The more information you give the more conversation rooms and individuals the app will recommend you follow or join. Whilst there are lots of rooms you can join in the UK, the app is still heavily US-based. But, with the UK community growing, brands and influencers have a golden window of opportunity to reach new customers.
If you’re a creator who’s got something to say, you’ll be pleased to learn about Clubhouse’s latest plans. The app has confirmed it will be introducing products to help creators on the platform get paid, including subscriptions, tipping and ticket sales. This funding round will also support a “Creator Grant Program” being set up by Clubhouse, which will be used to “support emerging Clubhouse creators” according to the start-up’s blog post.
10 Clubs And Folk To Follow On Clubhouse
To get you off to a running-start, here are some of Connects’ teams favourite British follows on the Clubhouse app…
- 9 AM IN LONDON – the largest UK based club on Clubhouse.
- COMMUNITY CLUB – a support group to help/welcome any new member to the app.
- MARKETING – a roundtable discussion on the latest trends within the marketing space, good campaigns and worthy advice.
- BLACK GIRLS BOOK CLUB – founded with one mission in mind: to create a space for Black womxn and girls to be themselves, unapologetically, and of course to live their best literary lives!
- SLOW SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS – a club for entrepreneurs who are busy building sustainable empires.
- EMPOWERED – entrepreneurs, small-biz owners, online educators, coaches, podcasters and pretty much anyone you can imagine who wants to become financially empowered.
- MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS – a group for elevating topics and conversation around mental health, moderated by doctors.
- ABRAXAS HIGGINS (@abraxas) – One of the founding members of ‘9AM In London’, Abraxas moderates a space for people to engage in stimulating conversations and start their day off with positive vibes. Sort of like your favourite breakfast show host!
- SHAA WASMUND (@shaa) – Shaa has been named one of “The Sunday Times’ Top 20 Most Influential Entrepreneurs” in the UK. Author of ‘How To Fix Your Sh*t’, she’s an entrepreneur with an MBE and says she’s made over £20K on Clubhouse in less than a month, by promoting her digital course.
- ASHLEIGH LOUISE (@ashleighllouise) – she’s a native Clubhouse creator, labelled as the UK’s most famous moderator. Sounds vague, but she talks about lots of things in lots of rooms, with lots of followers, and keeps the conversation going with a #TalksWithAsh Twitter thread.
What’s The Scandal About?
As mentioned earlier, Clubhouse is only really available to iPhone users right now, so some anarchistic developers set out to make the app available to everyone. They created third party software and programmes that would allow streaming for Android, Windows and Mac users. They took the word to the people (insert sunglasses emoji). As TechCrunch writes, “these third-party services, despite their innocuous intentions, can be exploited for surveillance purposes.” Jane Manchun Wong, a researcher known for uncovering upcoming features in popular apps, noted in a tweet that “the approaches of reverse engineering is neutral. The ethical aspect depends on the intent.”
Is It Worth The Hype?
The jury is still out on this one. As the Guardian reports, there are instances when the app’s value extends beyond its exclusivity:
“While censorship, suppression and government control is rife in China, Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook. It became very popular in recent weeks, attracting large numbers of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and engage in discussion on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.” (Rafqa Touma)
There is also the argument that Clubhouse slips perfectly into the ever-growing trend of audio communication. The use of audible messaging facilities are becoming more popular with the increased use of hands-free devices like AirPods, or hassle-free communication in the form of WhatsApp voice notes. Additionally, the CEO and co-founder of Yac (a competitor app to Clubhouse) said that “audio removes the Zoom fatigue problem”.
That all being said, Clubhouse definitely has some teething problems to figure out first. Our MD recently did her first Clubhouse event, so weighing-in on her experience, this is what she had to say:
“It definitely felt as described; a chaotic 90s dinner party, combined with the medium of podcasting. And honestly? I’m not sure I’m a fan. Maybe that means I’m getting old (who said that), or maybe it’s just because I’m a people person. Whenever I’m recording podcasts (virtually or IRL) the conversation always ends up going places I didn’t plan. It’s the eye contact, the social cues, the presence and the energy from the interaction that sways the conversation. I think all those things make for better content. On Clubhouse, you don’t get any of that. You’re talking at your phone, which means you’re constantly worried you’ll cut someone off. You can’t work out whether people are engaged or not. And, if you’re easily distracted like me, you zone out almost immediately.” (Sedge Beswick)
So, Can Brands Get Involved?
It’s not really a case of ‘can’, but instead, an opportunity for you to find out whether you ‘should’ through experiencing the app. If the vibe fits your brand’s intentions authentically, why not? As of February 2021, a huge portion of the world is still in the midst of Groundhog Day, so what’s stopping you from launching an exclusive event on Clubhouse? There’s huge scope for influencers, celebrities, founders – and so on – to host all sorts of things.
Our reckoning, is that in order to run a successful Clubhouse event, with no talking over one another, you need:
- A clear strategy going into it
- A visible host
- And a goal of what you want to get out of the session.
If you’re interested in hosting an event on Clubhouse and think we could help, or fancy a more general foray in the world of influencer marketing, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d be happy to chat.