During a recent episode of “The Rich Roll Podcast,” New York Times technology writer Kevin Roose said this about Clubhouse — the latest breakout social media app: “It seems to me like therapy for people who have been traumatized by other social media platforms.”
That promise makes Clubhouse sound intriguing after everything social media users have been subject to, or — more accurately — have subjected themselves to during the past few years. But can Clubhouse really live up to the hype? Here’s an overview.
First, what is Clubhouse? It’s an app that allows users to network or chat about their interests in different “rooms” via audio. This voice-centric approach seems refreshing to many users given how, in the past year, our webcams and smartphone cameras seem to be recording our every move.
As of this writing Clubhouse is still in the beta stage, only available on iPhones (although an Android version seems imminent), and invite-only. However, it has already attracted approximately 13 million members, including Mark Cuban, Drake, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey. Part of its appeal is the opportunity to hear from, and perhaps even interact with, the rich, famous, and influential.
How does it work? As mentioned above, you need an invite to join and you may be put on a waitlist. Once you’re in and you open Clubhouse, you’re presented with the opportunity to join “clubs” — groups of users with common interests — and enter or start your own “rooms” — discussions often led by an expert. Rooms are moderated, with one or more speakers and those who can only listen. The moderator can invite listeners to share their thoughts — and mute them if needed. And just like content on some other social media apps, Clubhouse conversations are ephemeral: they’re not recorded by the app, that is, and they can only be consumed live.
How is it relevant to businesses? Clubhouse has a number of potential uses for businesses, including brand awareness, education, networking, and word of mouth marketing. Companies, for example, could have a representative lead or join conversations relevant to their brand and connect with current or prospective customers, vendors and partners. This is also an opportunity to leverage influencers and embed subject matter experts into clubs and rooms to build relationships. It’s important to remember, however, that Clubhouse’s membership is currently a fraction of other social networks, so it may be better to focus resources on larger entities like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, just to name a few. If nothing else, listening to relevant conversations is a great way to learn from subject-matter experts.
Should you join? Well, that’s up to you--and remember, you’ll need an invite. It’s an intriguing concept and might be worth exploring, but do we really need more social media in our lives? (Upon listening to a co-worker gush about Clubhouse, I responded by saying I didn’t want something else to deal with. Sorry, Sean!) The true question is whether Clubhouse is more deserving of your time than other ways to consume content or be entertained. If you can add it into your personal social media mix without sacrificing important relationships or responsibilities, or if you just want to experiment with it, then go for it. If not, it might be time to delete another social media platform to make room for Clubhouse, or just say no.
It’s early, so there’s no telling where Clubhouse will go from here. As always with new social media platforms, the best approach is to monitor the app’s progress and acceptance rate, research how others are using it and perhaps even experiment with it as a user. That’s the best way to determine whether it’s useful to you or your company or if your time is better spent elsewhere.