Covid isolation has left us all seeking non-physical ways of interacting with friends and people around us. First, it was Zoom calls, then Houseparty games, and now...Clubhouse.
You have probably been caught up in the Clubhouse hype by now, but in case you're late to the party: it's an invite-only streaming audio platform, where people can chat and have discussions on a wide variety of topics and with people from all around the world. It's as easy as opening or joining a room.
This app serves as an opportunity to learn, get business insights for free from industry experts, and connect with like-minded people. A virtual environment to network and form connections, now that coffee chats and working from the office seem just like a distant memory. Not to forget, the app also offers brands the opportunity to build and connect with their audiences in a new, more interactive environment.
Following the boom of podcasting, the app leverages our need for connection in an interesting way and it couldn't have launched at a more convenient time.
We've jumped on the Clubhouse train and experienced the app for a week now. Does it live up to the hype?
Currently, Clubhouse is only available for iPhone users, which means nearly half of the population (if not more), cannot join the community, network, or participate in these conversations. What about people who cannot afford or simply don't own such a device? We would certainly like to hear from them too.
Equally important to note is that the app is (currently) invite-only. You can only create a profile when a friend or someone in your network invites you in and sponsors you (yeah, that serious). The sign-up system was clearly designed as a safeguard, and the best option on sight to ensure only serious, respectful, and professional users would join the community. However, does it really work as intended? A couple of searches on Twitter are enough to discover that current members are selling their invites to the highest bidder on line, with some going up to $100. The hype created by its selective sign-up system might be counter-productive after all, which takes us to our next point: some people are there to say nothing of real value.
If you spend a certain amount of time inside of a room, you might notice there are users who join the platform only to gain notoriety and followers. They want to build a presence for themselves or the services they offer, so they might: go on a spiral of vague and empty dialogues (like this reel accurately captures), repeat what other speakers just said, or join several rooms simultaneously (from different devices) while on mute, as they have no intention of participating, but only to generate followers.
Inside the app, opening a conversation is just a couple of clicks away. As a result, there is plenty of content to tap into, sometimes perhaps overwhelming. You need to approach Clubhouse with a critical eye, a good level of discernment, and a solid BS radar because there's plenty of rooms and conversations that won't bring any value to your life. Ah! And there are definitely some sleazy characters and scammy rooms on there too, so make sure you specify your interests and narrow them down to the only topics you're REALLY interested in. An equally good idea is to only follow users who you've heard in a conversation before and deemed interesting.
But most importantly, can someone explain to us what silent rooms are for?! If you don't want to hear anybody, you can literally just go ahead and close the app. We promise it works.
Our bottom line
Most likely, the app will develop and change a lot over the coming months as it becomes public, and we're not sure what it will turn into and whether its value will be further diluted or enhanced. Now that the idea is "out in the open", there's nothing preventing other people to launch improved, more democratic, and better organized audio streaming platforms. So Clubhouse will have to step up and introduce changes to continue being the app of choice and the market leader.
There's definitely work to be done to ensure the community is a safe space and the application is used for its main intended purpose. For instance, we believe there are developments required to track, evaluate or rate the content created by a user and its generated engagement. There are further safeguards required to ensure scammy, intolerant or abusive behavior or any form of hate speech does not take place in a conversation (even when the conversation happens in a non-recorded live audio stream).
If the users find distinct benefits that set Clubhouse apart from other social platforms while providing actual value, we definitely see its potential to stay as the app of choice for audio content. There's certainly potential for real content creators to step up and create that value within the community. But for now, you really have to sift through its rooms and members to find such valuable content.
If you plan to join Clubhouse only as a pure listener, we would recommend listening to a podcast instead - the content is just more condensed and straight to the point. However, if you want to interact, network, and ask questions, Clubhouse can give you access to people you would have otherwise never met. Or even celebrities you would never have a chance to speak to otherwise. For instance, the day before yesterday Elon Musk gave a live interview on Clubhouse, which caused massive excitement. And yesterday I listened to a discussion round with Ashton Kutcher. If famous guests and celebrities continue to make an appearance on the app, this would give the platform an edge over other media (Instagram live is similar, but not as interactive as Clubhouse).
Where we see the potential of Clubhouse for us, is in leading and opening up conversations on the topics we write about. ZillennialMag was above all, created to be a platform for open discussion, which is why we will host a number of conversational sessions in the coming weeks. Follow us on Clubhouse to join the discussion: @carla.mg and @nadine_w