Clubhouse is the new app I am loving to hate. Here’s the skinny from my first month dipping in and out.
+ WHAT IS IT?
It’s an invite-only, iOS-only, audio-only app that is making a splash in the social media space, mainly for grown-ups. And 7-figure coaches and VC’s and Angel Investors. Think live podcast meets ChatRoulette, with space for a looooong emoji laden bio and endless conversations but not much else.
There have been about 2 million downloads since it was founded in April 2020, exploding after Elon Musk spoke live on the platform (to a full capacity room of 5800) in Jan 2021 and apparently still only has 8 employees (despite being valued at $1billion that same month). It was recently banned in China.
+ HOW IT WORKS
What most would call a news feed, in Clubhouse is called the ‘hallway’, you can see the title of ‘rooms’ (ie events) and the names of the moderators and any friends who might be in it. You drop in to rooms as you choose and will find yourself in the audience (automatically on mute, dont worry you can make dinner while you listen) where your profile pic and first name will show up. On the ‘stage’ (at the top of the screen) are the hosts and moderators (designated with a green star) as well as any folks who have been invited up to speak (either by the mods or through using the ‘hand raise’ button).
Bored by the conversation? You can ‘leave quietly’ with the click of a button and explore the next room.
Beyond being able to follow users, and turn on notifications to find out when they’re hosting ‘rooms’, there is no DM function, you can link your Twitter and IG accounts to your profile and direct people to get in touch via those channels.
You might hear people talk about ‘refreshing the room’ (which is almost signalling an ad break or reintroducing guest speakers and the topic) or suggesting you PTR (pull to refresh, which updates the page with who is in the room).
A range of other conventions and netiquette have popped up around accessibility and the flow of conversation – namely, indicating when you’re ‘done speaking’ by saying ‘I’m Jocelyn and I’m done speaking’ or simply ‘I’m done’.
If you host a room 3 times you can apply to create a club. You can then follow the club and get notified of their events. The notification settings are based on frequency but nothing else, which needs refining IMO.
Your privacy settings in Clubhouse are limited/ basically non-existent. There is no open/closed profile ability, if you’ve got an account your can be found, hence your username and bio are as much control as you have. You can block people, but if you do and you’re in a room with them, you won’t be able to speak (you’ll get a warning that the person is in the room, it’s up to you to leave).
Technically you’re not supposed to record rooms, but you will see some rooms with [REC 🔴] or some variation to indicate to they are recording it, but you would have to listen
Given it started as a venture capital project in silicon valley the dude-bros are rampant, but if you follow people more closely associated with your industry or interests you will find that your hallway quickly falls into a nicely algorithmic line that knows you just like Facebook does. My advice then is to avoid following those that get suggested unless they fit your barrelhouse, or you potentially will end up with a hallway populated by dick-measuring competitions and sycophantic audio circle jerks.
There is an emerging Australian contingent of educators, heart-centred coaches and business leaders creating great conversations. The Vegemite on Toast group is a key one that covers a nice selection of topics.
The challenge for Australians in attending bigger rooms and the volume of rooms is our timezone. I am finding early in the morning – from about 5am til 10 am there is lots happening, and again in the late evening. Catching key timezones means creeping into sleep time and I think ‘clubhouse addiction’ is going to be the next non-disorder that gets its time in the clickbait sun! There has already been rooms on it.
I’ve seen some weird shit in there. Like a live stream of the audio of a woman in labour (Clubhouse’s first baby?) and an attempt at the world record for most people simultaneously showering (I am not even joking!). There is also a tonne of ‘silent rooms’ where you go in, nothing is being said except ‘mute your mic this is a silent room’ where the apparent point is to read bios and follow people. Vanity metrics are alive and well.
+ THE VERDICT
I havent gone overboard on using it, but I have hosted rooms with Dr Sarah McKay and Nir Eyal. Its fun and free and I’m excited by it, but also have some reservations. Here’s what I have learned.
- Unless you have a clear plan for how you will use Clubhouse, Clubhouse will use you.
- Like most of the internet, misinformation and influencers as experts are rife. Beware of some of the ‘advice’ dished out whether it be on mental health or real estate
- We’re likely to see brands wanting to jump in and leveridge the space like they have with Snap and TikTok. Its par for the course, but hopefully doesnt hijack the discourse.
- Its a rich source of FOMO, conversations are synchonous, you never know when someone might just ping in their clebrity mate (if thats your jam).
- Pingiing people into rooms feels inpolite to me. Like calling someone up in the 90’s to tell them to watch a particular TV channel. Use the calendar feature to notify your network, dont add to their notification overload (your smart friends will have them turned off, the app will then offer to text them! Noooo.
- I cant listen on 1.5 times like a podcast, I have to sit through stuff in real time.
- Moderation is a key skill for a great room. You can join rooms to learn how to mod, all the tips and tricks on keeping your room engaging, your speakers on track and your reputation intact (don’t go inviting randoms to mod with you)
Are you on Clubhouse? How are you finding it? What’s the best conversation you’ve had/heard? Share with me your experience.
Want to collaborate on moderating on a room? Get in Touch!