Is it a networking space? Or a place to hone your public speaking skills? Or a forum for professional growth? Or…
When we see a new phenomena, we tend to describe it akin to something we already know, have grown to like or adopt. With an estimated user base of 10 million as of February 2021 and growing, Clubhouse is the hottest craze in the sphere of social media. Some people have likened it to TedX or Zoom sessions without the power of video or the exclusive invites that comes with these forums. Yet others have said it is like podcasts or medium or discord plus or minus some features. But it is unlike any of those. It is not even like your grandparents party line of the 1930s and 40s.
What Is It?
Clubhouse was officially launched in April 2020 at the height of the global pandemic. It started out with a small group of users of less than two thousand. Its popularity was skyrocketed to the score of two million users in January 2021 when Elon Musk joined the invite-only clubhouse for a drop-by conversation. The scale of this user growth is said to have accounted for 30 percent of all the Clubhouse app store downloads. This fastest-growing startup is currently valued at $1 billion, according to CNBC. Downloaded by 125 countries, it is also becoming a global phenomenon.
Clubhouse is a free, audio-based and town hall-like, social networking platform. According to an article by Rafqa Touma on The Guardian, it is labeled as a mix between “conference calls, talkback radio and houseparty.” You can download the iPhone-only Clubhouse app from the App Store but can only join by invitation from existing members. Once admitted as a clubhouse member, you get to choose a category of your interest such as health, business, technology, wellness, sports, faith, etc. You have an option to join various clubs of your choosing. You also receive random invitations to join clubs from strangers (I am guessing based on your profile description). The more the app learns about your activity on the platform such as the people you follow and the topics you attend, the more recommendations you get for a specialized list of topics to join on the home screen. You can then choose to enter a “live room” where discussion on the topics is happening. You get to listen in as an automatically muted member and can leave anytime. You can also raise your hand to ask questions. It is upto the host to let you speak.
Any clubhouse member can gather a group of subject matter experts and schedule to start a live “room” of discussion at any time. Most of the rooms are very well attended, in the upwards of 800 people with amazingly knowledgeable speakers. You can host upto 5000 attendants for your event on topics such as tech talks on emerging technologies, startup pitches, the future of healthcare, data science and analytics, interviewing tips, Social Enterprise Founders Group, work in 20230, book discussions, travel etc. Nonprofits can start a fundraising campaign. From informational to aspirational content, the possibilities are endless. The “room” set up can be a formal conference style with speakers or panelists, or a casual discussion with a circle of “friends” or a one-on-one interview. You can have first-degree access to the world’s top talent and can be used for personal networking, promoting your business, and professional growth opportunities. The app itself is minimalist and clean. No filters, sound effects or transitions; just people using their phone to voiceover. The only text you enter is your profile description. The only graphics you see are the profile photo of the speakers and attendants along with their first name.
Clubhouse is currently not formally developed for the Android platform so it leaves out a large percentage of the population. There is also the restriction of being “invite only” at the moment. Another drawback could be that there is no “save for later” option. You can’t record the live sessions although some have been sharing the live stream on Youtube for example. It is not clear how users can monetize the app as there are no third party apps directly engaged through the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Clubhouse has not yet made a public API available for developers integrating augmenting services that would be useful to users such as analytics. There is also the issue of privacy of profiles and contents as is the case with other social platforms.
Paul Davison and Rohan Seth of Alpha Exploration Co. are the people behind
the creation of Clubhouse. Considering clubhouse’s popularity, many existing social platforms are starting add-on features such as instagram’s live video rooms, linked in live talk, twitter beta testing twitterspaces hosting live audio conversations, the future is always interesting…
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