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What is Clubhouse?

There's a new platform in town; Clubhouse is the audio-only app causing quite a stir amongst social media managers and celebrities alike. Read on as Born Social Strategist, Ilana Green, gives her take on the new platform.

Clubhouse

Ilana Green

16 Feb 2021

Clubhouse is the audio-only app offering users the chance to dip in and out of chat rooms, raise your hand to join in on the discussion or start conversations of your own. Founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth back in March last year, the app is estimated to be worth $1 Billion (and still in beta-mode at that).

Who’s using it and how?

It’s currently invite-only (sorry) however, whilst not yet open to the public, the platform is adorned with celebrities, influencers and entrepreneurs all navigating this shiny new entity. The exclusivity and secrecy surrounding the platform has worked wonders though, establishing intrigue between regular ol’ folk. Lucky for us, the app is still finding its feet, with most ‘rooms’ on the platform being dominated by hustlers looking to rope in new audiences for their Get-Rich-Quick scheme.

However, the platform showcased its potential after tech billionaire, Elon Musk, made his debut by hosting a room to explore space travel, life on Mars, crypto currency, AI, and COVID vaccinations, followed by a guest appearance from Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, to discuss the Gamestop fiasco. His room met the 5,000 attendee quota, with other rooms opening up to broadcast the event for the overspill.

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How can brands tap in?

As it stands, there is no in-app advertising, however the appetite for audiobooks and podcasts, as we know, is huge, so it’s likely that we’ll see this implemented soon. So what can brands do in the meantime? It’s too early to tell, but given the context of the platform, if you’re looking to host an event with a great panel, this is the place to do it.

If sitting and listening doesn’t float your boat, there are other options; world-renowned musical powerhouse, Hamilton, set up a competition on the platform whereby users got the chance to sing or rap for the cast, with the chance of winning two tickets and a backstage pass for the show - nice!

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Why do we like it?

With screen time increasing, an audio-only app allows people to feel connected without the need to constantly look at a screen, giving our eyes a well-earned rest. And as it currently offers a smaller audience base, it’s also easier to discover new things and get into exclusive events (How often do you get to go to a talk hosted by Elon Musk?)

Conversations are also driven by interest/topic as opposed to who the speaker is; whilst there are some people driving intrigue and hype, it’s aimed towards driving conversation about a shared interest rather than giving a voice to certain individuals for no apparent reason, similar to the notion on TikTok which is a platform that is ‘content-first’, allowing anyone to go viral regardless of follower size.

But most of all… it’s NEW and EXCITING; it’s the first time in a while that there’s been a buzz around a new social app, which bodes well for the platform.

Things to think about.

Finding the people you want to follow takes a lot of time and effort; you’re essentially building your following from scratch. However, Twitter has started rolling out Spaces; a similar product but with the added value of already having an existing audience. It’ll be interesting to see how the two battle it out.

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Conversations are also live on the platform which, whilst adding a layer of exclusivity, has its limitations if that topic sounds really interesting but is US based (unless you’re happy to get up at 4am in the UK). On the other hand, if you missed the talk, no problem! People who did go to it can still record it and share it on other platforms at a disadvantage to Clubhouse. There have been instances where users have hosted ‘recap’ sessions, whereby presenters outline the key takeaways of a really popular talk you might have missed, but there’s no re-listening to it on the platform once it’s over. However, the app is still in beta-mode, so saving talks to listen to at a later date could be a feature they introduce in the future. Let’s hope so!

The other argument is content quality; anyone and everyone can produce content. Whilst some conversations are higher quality, led by people who know how to moderate a panel, others feel more like a person rambling on for too long. It takes a lot of searching to find the 'gems amongst the dirt.’

Thinking ahead, for when the Clubhouse user base does eventually grow and garners more intrigue, it will be harder to join in on popular conversations, with rooms having limited capacity. Though this could that be an option for monetization as it gets bigger; selling tickets for talks that are set to pique interest.

And finally, the current lack of moderation (and invite-only elitist attitude) has led to a lot of negativity towards the platform. However, as the audience grows and people work out how to use it, could this dissipate? Only time will tell.

Wrapping it up.

Clubhouse is reminiscent of the hype for live-streaming video apps, Meerkat & Periscope, both of which ultimately dissolved because of time restricted limitations as well as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube adding live-streaming as a feature to their long list of offerings. In order to succeed, Clubhouse needs to really out-shine the already well-established, trialled and tested platforms that offer the same experience.

As it stands, it’s proving incredibly popular, but will it retain the same experience and excitement as it grows or will it lose its shine over time? Have people been willing to give it a go as they have nothing else to do? Can it outlive and thrive in a post-pandemic world?

Watch this space…