Updated: Feb 17, 2021
I got invited to the new Clubhouse app and experienced a week with fascinating people and conversations.
Clubhouse is a novel "drop-in audio" app, currently available by invitation only in the iOS world. The application seems to be in a pre-launch-phase with rapidly rising numbers of users. A publicly noticed live-appearance of Elon Musk brought the modern platform recently to its limits.
How it Works
New users download the app and generate a profile that contains a picture, text, and optional links to Twitter and Instagram accounts. At the center of the app is a hallway where you can see the rooms that other users created and moderate. You can enter a room as a listener by just tapping on it. You might raise your hand, and then the moderators could bring you on the stage where you might talk to others. People can follow each other, and everybody can create rooms for a public audience and private conversations. The entire app appears straightforward and needs almost no explanation.
Fulfilling Human Needs
Humans love to talk and connect. The Clubhouse app makes these two things particularly easy. Its users chat, share stories, and discuss a wide variety of topics. The app is easy to use and provides an excellent sound quality. You can listen to a person literally from the other side of the planet in crystal clear audio quality as if it was next door. Technical issues seem to be rare. The package's intriguing character might be the reason for the app's success, as the technical features of social media networks and audio conferencing are not so new.
Sharing Stories, Knowledge, and Experience
When I received the invitation to Clubhouse from a friend, I was reluctant at first. But when I joined, I went all in and spent more than six hours per day on average on the platform in the first week. Several people told me that they spent way more time with the app during the early days than intended.
I intuitively decided to avoid social media celebrities and instead focused on people like you and me. It was great! I enjoyed the funny episodes a woman from the Philipines shared with the audience. She lived in Japan and experienced a couple of comic daily-life misunderstandings while learning about language and culture. A friend of mine spontaneously set-up a room about understanding Generation Z's speech in the german speaking area. It was hilarious, and I learned a lot of new words and phrases. I also liked the brief course-style conversations a French teacher regularly offers to the audience of non-native speakers. And I learned from the discussions of Australian venture capitalists and founders.
I intuitively decided to avoid social media celebrities and instead focused on people like you and me. It was great!
In other rooms, people share their impressive or challenging and even tragic life stories. As people don't see each other, it sometimes seems more comfortable talking about difficult subjects. There are rooms with talks about politics and various issues of public interest. You will further find rooms where people share their experiences and knowledge about specific topics such as marketing, sales, and online businesses.
Communication and Moderation Styles
Clubhouse is also a way to learn about individual and cultural communication styles. By the way: It can be a real opportunity to enhance language and communication skills. If you are willing to host rooms yourself, you can practice moderating talks. For obvious reasons, moderators have a strong influence on conversations in their rooms. The styles differ: Some offer plenty of opportunities to the audience members to join the discussion on the stage. They invite people to comment, provide their opinion, and ask questions. Other moderators are more restrictive or even handle it as a kind of show to present themselves.
After a couple of days, I launched my first room, and almost nobody showed up. I changed my approach, and my second attempt worked well. It's fascinating to observe the immediate effects of changes in headlines and time slots. I now regularly host an event and also join the rooms of colleagues as an additional moderator.
Discussions on Research and Technology
I was surprised and excited when I discovered Clubhouse rooms about medical technology, biotechnology, DNA, AI, and furthermore. Experts worldwide with extraordinary expertise and impressive achievements had discussions about their fields, developments and trends, and current and future opportunities. They often let the broader audience ask questions and participate in the discussions. In these rooms, you can also find the types of people who seem to dedicate their lives to a higher purpose. Typically, they are open to connecting with others from various fields and aware of the magic that happens when the right persons and ideas meet: They see the potential opportunities for developing new treatments for severe diseases and solving other relevant problems.
A Short-Cut to Contact People
A significant advantage of Clubhouse is that you often get opportunities to talk to people you wouldn't get otherwise. On typical business networking platforms, you send a request to connect or a direct message. Sometimes you need a subscription. It can take a lot of time, and numerous attempts before an appointment for an audio or video call is scheduled. On Clubhouse, you enter a room, raise your hand, and get a chance to talk with a bit of luck. That's easy!
"Will Clubhouse last?" is a question I heard a couple of times. There is a kind of hype. But there also seems to be a niche. The platform is developing in technical terms and changing while new users come on board. It is essential to keep in mind that Clubhouse is still in an early phase and hasn't even entered the big Android world.
Sooner or later, the initiators and investors of Clubhouse will probably make decisions about business models for the platform and the future of their investments. Hopefully, the good aspects of Clubhouse will last for some time.