What Is Clubhouse? The Invite-Only Chat App Explained

Clubhouse, it’s the newest social media platform to catch the attention and interest of the early adopters, the curious, the innovators, the networkers and the knowledge hungry all across the world. Exclusively invite-only, it’s the hottest new club in town. 

At its core Clubhouse is a group chat app, but it’s not the next conference call, Zoom, Microsoft teams, Whatsapp or House Party. It’s something much more unique and powerful. Unlike other group chat platforms Clubhouse is designed to be a platform of conversations open to all – had publicly and accessible for any Clubhouse user to join. It offers far more potential and opportunity to connect directly with other users, participate in previously unavailable ( and unimaginable) conversations, share, learn, grow.. and stumble onto the unexpected.

Here’s what you need to know about Clubhouse.

What is ClubHouse?

Clubhouse is an audio only chat /group chat app, only available on iPhone and accessible only by invitation from an existing user. Some describe it as being like legally dropping in on and listening to a phone call – or opening up your own call to the public for anyone to join, being at the podcast recording live or a conference with an almost unlimited variety of streams you can drop in and out of as you please. You can also start your own conversations about any topic you choose.

As with any other social media platform, discussions in Clubhouse cover a broad and diverse range of topics and interests – from venture capital investing to musical theatre, memes, leadership, dating, cryptocurrency and almost anything else you can imagine. While so many topics that might appeal are open for discussion, building the most relevant networks, creating the best experience and reaching your goals and objectives for the platform comes from defining your interests and the topics you want to establish credibility and reputation in clearly, and being consistent with discussion topics you host and participate.

The technology of Clubhouse may be new and unfamiliar, but the key to making it a valuable and interesting experience is actually the same as all other social media – actively participate and create genuine value for yourself, your audiences and others by sharing quality content through the discussions, networks and communities you create and join.

Perhaps on of the biggest benefits and most unique features of being an audio only, mobile only ( Apple smart devices) platform is that we suddenly don’t need our screens to participate. This untethers us from our devices, creating a new freedom and flexibility that makes using Clubhouse  as easy as a having a conversation or listening to a podcast or the radio.

Clubhouse is structured into 3 main areas – The Clubhouse Hallway, Rooms and Clubs

1 – Clubhouse Hallway

Users ( Members) enter the Hallway when opening the app. The Hallway is the home newsfeed that displays all the active and scheduled conversations ( Rooms) that members can join, who in their network is online, other members they know and should connect with, and the explore feature to search for members and Clubs. Each member’s Hallway is personalised, and the rooms displayed are based on their own interests and network of followers / who they follow.

2 – Rooms

All conversations happen in rooms, and anyone can start a room. To create or participate in discussions members can open a room to start a conversation immediately, schedule a room for a future discussion  or enter any room open to them in their Hallway at any time. Invitations to rooms can’t be created, however a room link is generated when it is created. This link can be shared by hosts, or anyone in the room, with other members in their network by DM. Members can also add scheduled rooms to their calendar and set a reminder.

As a room host, the best approach is think of yourself as a strong blend of conference speaker and group facilitator – once your room is open, just dive into leading your conversation as you build and create discussion with your audience. As an audience member in a room you can passively listen to the conversation, make new connections with any other members in the room – building your network, interact with the hosts and speakers to comment or ask questions ( by raising your hand much like you would in a video conference), and even actively participate in and influence the conversation by “taking the stage” to speak. Anyone in a room can request the opportunity to speak from the host; granting the request is however at the host/s’ discretion.  

By default all rooms are set to public and open, however there are two room privacy options that can be set –

  • Social Room: This option only displays and makes the room available in the Hallways of others the host is connected to in their network.
  • Closed rooms: Closed rooms are private and invitation only, they do not display in the Hallway. Once the room is created, members must be individually invited into the room by the host/s.

3- Clubs

Clubs allow members to create exclusive spaces for their community. Similar to Facebook groups, Clubs bring the network together – either as a whole or segmented by different interests, needs or others commonalities – to build a strong, well connected, intimate community of people who have chosen to be part of it.

Members must be invited to join a club, and the ability to create and own a Club must be earned – you need some Clubhouse cred before you can open your own Club. By actively participating in rooms, growing your network and hosting your own rooms with regular, consistent discussions that engage Clubhouse members and add value with your expertise, members can unlock Club ownership privileges;  Clubhouse requires members to host at least three regularly-scheduled rooms, consistently for a ( unstated) period of time, before privileges to create your own club are unlocked.

Essentially, to create and own a club, you first have to establish, prove and maintain your credibility, reputation, influence and community. 

Why is Clubhouse trending and gaining momentum now?

Clubhouse is a purely audio, mobile only app – a design that aligns perfectly with the growth trends in the adoption of voice activation, assistants, search, marketing and home / smart devices ( Alexa, Google Home etc) seen over recent years. A recent report revealed that 63% of Americans utilized a voice-operated assistant in 2020, both using their smartphone and home devices.  (National Public Media, 2020). Convenience, efficiency, practicality and voice feeling more natural and being much easier than reading or writing/ typing are some the key reasons for its growing popularity and adoption.

Learn more about >> The Voice Activated Future

As we move to a more voice activated world, it’s no surprise that Clubhouse is getting the attention it is. The purely audio, future gazing design, exclusivity, simplicity, ease of networking, topics discussed and depth of discussions has attracted not just the general public but high profile leaders and innovators from a wide variety of industries – including Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and other silicon valley leaders; media and entertainment personalities like Oprah, Drake and Tiffany Haddish; Marc Andreesen and other venture capitol investors; business leaders, fashion industry innovators and political insiders and commentators.

It was Elon Musk joining, and investing in, Clubhouse in Feb 2021 that saw global users skyrocket from 3.5M to 8.1M in just over 2 weeks.

“The intimacy on Clubhouse is not something that I have felt on social media in a long time. Facebook and Twitter have become public squares, while Clubhouse feels more like you’re at your dining room table,” – Alex Taussig, VC firm Lightspeed

What Type of Conversations and Activities are happening on Clubhouse, and What Are The Challenges? 

The design and functionality of Clubhouse may be innovative, simple and leverage technology and behavioural trends, and some of the earliest adopters may be powerful leaders and personalities, but the real value and reason for it’s popularity with the general public is in the conversations being had on the platform, and the exclusivity of being part of them.

Clubhouse is designed for live participation and conversation. The app doesn’t allow any activity in rooms or clubs to be recorded or saved – unlike other platforms, if you miss a room or event, you just miss it. This live only be-there-or-miss-it element adds an exclusivity to conversations and their content. This encourages active participation and creates greater desire to be part of the moment – just ask anyone with the bragging rights of being in a room talking memes and SpaceX with Elon Musk in early Feb. Cleverly though it also integrates a layer of security and privacy that protects even the most sensitive conversations that are had in your rooms.

While great for risk management, when it comes to content, campaigns and communications, longevity and easy accessibility are some of the benefits other digital and social platforms offer, that Clubhouse doesn’t.  Members and some early adopting brands have been experimenting with different ideas, events and activities on Clubhouse, to learn exactly what can be achieved by being part of its community, and how far new and existing approaches, strategies, creative thinking and content can be applied and stretched.

A snapshot of the open, and surprising, conversations and brand activity being seen on Clubhouse includes:

U.S President Joe Biden’s presidential election campaign strategists talking candidly and openly about the campaign, planning, strategies, learnings and experiences,

Elon Musk creating a room to discuss everything from Mars to memes in early Feb 21.

Mark Zuckerberg in a room discussing the role of AR and VR in remote work.

Rooms of discussion on how the coronavirus and U.S response to the pandemic is affecting prison populations – Speakers included MC Hammer, political commentator Van Jones, writer and activist Shaka Senghor and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen.

Panel discussions on the future of artificial intelligence and the potential of Bitcoin.

Debates over the state of the hip hop music industry, and the impact of rappers like DMX and 50 Cent.

Rooms of NBA fans from across the world discussing all the latest happenings in Basketball.

The recent rise in the number and frequency of rooms for a diverse and unexpected variety of purposes gives an insight into who and what is helping Clubhouse grow. There are now rooms for communities and groups including online dating, virtual comedy clubs, celebrity gossip groups, virtual musical jam sessions, motor car racing driver meet and greets, fashion sustainability, comic book conventions, canabis farming and so much more.

In Dec 2020,  “The Lion King” musical debuted live on Clubhouse, turning a full Broadway production into a unique, tailored and complete Clubhouse audio experience. Between the matinee and nighttime shows the Broadway cast of The Lion King created a room and broadcast a live performance of the musical for Clubhouse users – complete with the 40-member cast, live instrumentation, a choir and beautifully orchestrated PTR (“pull to refresh”) imagery in the room that matched up with every scene in the show.

Just before Valentine’s Day 2021, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which oversees Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons, created an open forum room that gathered an audience to discuss the company’s post earnings call, featuring the senior management of all companies’.

This is just a small snapshot of how Clubhouse is rising and being used. The diversity in each one of these rooms, and highly engaged communities, highlights the opportunities available for a huge variety of brands, across almost every category.   

What Does the Future for Clubhouse and Audio Social Platforms hold?

Clubhouse has inspired a whole new trend of audio only social networking, and audio is now a new boom to watch:

  • Billionaire investor Mark Cuban is co-founding a podcast app “where hosts can talk to fans live and monetize their conversations,” per The Verge.
  • Twitter last year started testing “Spaces,” a feature similar to Clubhouse’s setup.
  • Wavve, Riffr, Spoon and other other audio-first social apps have also started to enter the marketplace.

5 Simple Reasons to Join Clubhouse:

An audio only app may sound limiting, confusing or difficult to leverage at first, but the opportunities to create entertainment, develop thought leadership, build intimate communities with intimate access like never before, and experiment to further the opportunities and freedom opened by voice technology are unique, interesting and future proofing – for individuals as much as brands.

  1. Learn –  Join LIVE discussions on almost any interest, held by innovators, leaders, experts and peers around the world
  2. Participate – Don’t just listen, participate in conversations, start conversations and be an active member to gain the most value
  3. Community– Grow your network by connecting with others ; and be an active, valuable participant in the community
  4. Simplicity – The audio only, mobile only design and function of Clubhouse creates a simplicity, flexibility and ease of use that allows us to both participate and untether us from our screens and devices. It’s a unique lifestyle benefit that no other digital comms or social media platform can offer… for now.
  5. Innovation – The adoption of voice tech continues to rapidly grow, and society as a whole is looking for and experimenting with new and better technology to improve how we connect and communicate. Starting to consider the benefits and role of audio platforms now shows brands as innovative and current, and gives an early jump on future proofing the connection with and growth of audiences.

 

Exploring audio platforms is also beneficial for us as individuals.

As they create brand new, simpler ways for us to communicate, connect and operate, they open up new and different ways to learn and opportunities for growth. The new behaviours we’r’e already developing, thanks to the adoption of voice tech and assistants, is also helping us to step away from, and reduce our time on, the screens and devices we’ve become so dependently connected to. 

 



   Chat, clubhouse, communication, future trends, Voice Experience, social media
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