Dear Doctor Digital – I received an invitation via text to join Clubhouse from someone I know. What even is it and is it the kind of club I should join, I don’t want to miss out?
Doctor Digital Says
While FOMO is a good enough reason to join most things according to marketing psychologists, doing some due diligence on what it is you are joining makes sense. As the people’s doctor of all things digital, I’ve done the investigating for you to help you make good choices.
For those who haven’t received a curiosity inducing invitation, Clubhouse is a new niche social network focusing on drop-in audio chat. While it is still pretty new and in a betaish mode, new users are invited by existing users, a ploy that creates both scarcity and also manages growth steadily so new and existing functionality can be added and tested without breaking the brand or trust in the product.
Once inside the app Users can follow other users or topics of interest, as well as joining themed ‘clubs’. They then have access to a selection of chat rooms focusing on different topics, many of which are highly tuned to the latest topic de jour.
Clubhouse is really quite innovative in how the connections and conversations are curated. The virtual audio rooms come in all sizes. Some have just a few people chatting informally. Others might contain hundreds or even thousands of people listening to a panel of experts, everyone from Oprah to politicians or business leaders.
The people in the room with you are visible, you can bring up their profiles complete with a list of whom they follow. The Clubhouse algorithm takes your interests and people who you follow into account when offering content choices and the more you engage, the better it gets.
The chats aren’t a free for all that get dominated by the loudest voices in the room, which is definitely one of the benefits of how the rooms work. If you want to say something, you raise a virtual hand, and the room owner can give you speaking privileges. You can even applaud a speaker by rapidly clicking the mute/unmute button. Respectful but not disruptive.
And all of this engagement happens in audio-only, so you aren’t having the visual distractions and unconscious bias that can happen with visual rooms. At its best, it’s like eavesdropping on a fascinating conversation – with the ability to join in if you have something to add.
One reason Clubhouse is taking off so rapidly is that audio feels much more live than a-synchronous text-based social media. It also offers more context than text alone, which tends to give users a fuller experience. It is all the best elements of audiobooks and podcasts but in real-time. As an audio experience, you aren’t being asked to multi-task with typing and texting, so you can listen actively and feel more engaged.
As with all things massive and mainstream, there is only one way to go for new entrants: niche. Clubhouse has found a gap in an established social media networking market and innovated, so far, the reception is very positive. By sheer investor reaction alone, Clubhouse is less than 12 months old, but has already a $1b market valuation. That is enough to get serious investors taking a look and big investment landed so Clubhouse can begin an aggressive expansion.
Social media gorillas like Facebook and Instagram so dominate the market for their channels that it is difficult to break in to these spaces. They are the social media whale sharks, hard to disturb, but also heavy and unwieldly with their sheer size. New market entrants are the minnows: small and nimble but easier to crush.
Clubhouse will be one to watch to see if there is a move to aquire while it is still growing, and whether it will resist the lure of megabucks to maintain independence and integrity like Snapchat did, or join Whatsapp, Instagram and countless other small players in a Facebook soup.
Want an invitation? Reach out and see who of your social contacts are in the Clubhouse and wangle an invitation to join, join the waitlist, or wait a minute until they open up for the world to join in once they are ready for global domination.