Clubhouse: Hottest New Social Platform or Just More Noise?

Clubhouse screen shots showing interests users can follow and explore.

Who it’s for and tips for use.

By Sandi Leyva

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’d love to be a fly on the wall in *that* room?”

Or, “I’d love to be in the same room with so-and-so celebrity?”

So far, in the last few weeks, I’ve been in the same room with Andrew Sorkin and Bill Gates discussing Bill’s new book on climate change, 10 billionaires holding their own mastermind group, Katie Couric, Guy Kawasaki, Tory Burch, and a gazillion VCs who seem to be in every room all day long. And I never left my recliner.

How? Clubhouse. The newest, hottest social app.

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In a nutshell, Clubhouse is an audio-only platform where you can start a room based on a topic and others can join the room and conversation. You can bring people up to the “stage” who have raised their hands. The platform supports multiple languages, and at any one time, you can see rooms in Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, German, and several I don’t recognize. I’ve been in a room with a person from Mongolia. Who can say they’ve met someone from Mongolia?

It’s like an interactive live podcast. The platform hosts both personal and business conversations, so there is a lot of noise to wade through, but that’s true of every social app. Many people love the lack of video that is so pervasive on other platforms.

While in a room, everyone can see everyone else’s avatar. Clicking on other people’s avatars is encouraged and brings up a bio and direct links to the person’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. Unlike Twitter, you have lots of space on Clubhouse to build an extensive bio, and this is primarily how other people in the room can get to know you, along with hearing what you have to say.

Clubhouse seems ideal for several purposes:

  • VCs/investors hearing pitches
  • Reporters holding a news event
  • Concerts and other live performances
  • Thought leaders who want to host a group of like-minded professionals
  • Coaches running hot seats
  • Marketers reviewing people’s social profiles and giving suggestions
  • Singles’ meetup rooms
  • People practicing learning a language
  • Fundraiser events
  • Political town halls
  • Groups of friends who want to hang out and informally chat at a scheduled time

Many people use it like a radio while they multitask.

I do think this one is going somewhere. The founders are hands-on, well-grounded and enthusiastic. The platform is addictive and has its own vocabulary and culture. The lack of video is very appealing. The growth is record-breaking. The international membership is stronger than any other platform I’ve been on. There are always people from several countries in any one room.

One thing that could cause it to falter is that post-pandemic behavior on the platform may change as people get more options back in their lives. Another thing that could crush Clubhouse is if the founders sell too early to one of the bigger platforms. Already Twitter has partially rolled out Twitter Spaces, and other platforms are busy building competing features.

Clubhouse was launched in March 2020. In December 2020, there were 600,000 members. In January 2021, membership jumped to 6 million. As of Feb. 21, 2021, Paul Davison (co-founder) reported 10 million. The app is valued at around $1 billion at this time.

While the app’s features are still fairly immature, the team implements new ones every few weeks. Every Sunday, the founders and a few employees run a Town Hall room to receive feedback and answer questions.

There is a culture and unique vocabulary to Clubhouse. Here are a couple of terms to get to know:

  • Mod or moderator: Person who runs the room
  • Give flowers: Praise or acknowledge the moderator or speaker or another person in the room
  • Reset the room: As people join at random times, the moderator repeats the introduction so everyone knows what the room is about
  • “I’m done speaking:” It’s good etiquette to end your contribution with this phrase so people know you’ve turned the conversation back to the moderator
  • Party hat: Newbies to Clubhouse will see a party hat on the bottom left corner of their avatar for a while
  • Flashing the mic: Applause; only people on stage can do this

If you want into Clubhouse, you must have an iPhone and an invitation. You’ll need to find someone who is already on the app and can invite you (don’t pay money for invites – that’s a scam). (Android is expected mid-summer 2021.) When you get on, look me up at @sandileyva.


One Response to “Clubhouse: Hottest New Social Platform or Just More Noise?”

  1. John Callaghan

    Looking forward to Android accessibility. Good article.


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