Katy is CEO/Founder of Remix Communications, and manages thought leadership programs for Remix clients such as Adobe and Facebook.
It seems I can’t have a conversation lately without someone asking, “Hey, what is this Clubhouse thing I keep hearing about?” Clubhouse is an audio social app, meaning that all interactions are via voice with no video (a nice departure for all of us Zoom-fatigued people). In an interesting twist, it’s been somewhat exclusive to date: It’s currently only available for iPhone users, and you can’t just sign up (yet) — you need to be invited while it’s in its prelaunch phase. Those who get in start with only two invitations to give out, which has only made the app more appealing to those who want in on the new exclusive thing. But know this: It’s growing exponentially. Various sources have reported that at the beginning of February 2021, there were over 3.5 million worldwide installs for Clubhouse, and 1.1 million of those took place within a week.
What Is Clubhouse Like?
The experience is described by some as similar to listening to live, unfiltered podcasts, which is a fair comparison except that the sessions are not recorded. You can only listen to them live as they happen. I liken the experience to be a bit like attending an event such as SXSW where there are interesting sessions to choose from. The difference with Clubhouse is that you can raise your virtual hand and ask to speak or ask a question. It’s ultimately up to the moderators if they will bring you up on the “stage” to have the option to speak, but most rooms welcome lots of audience participation.
The beauty of Clubhouse is that you curate your experience. There are rooms for almost any topic you can think of, and you choose what to listen to and participate in. I’ve seen sessions as diverse as “Children’s Books Writers Unite,” “Adventure Travelers Sharing Epic Stories,” “Black Men Meditate,” “Cat Talk,” and “Should Men Pay on the First Date?” Elon Musk was on this week and, in a surprise move, brought in Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev when GameStop stock and Robinhood dominated every news outlet.
My First Experience
In my first hour on Clubhouse, I spotted a room named “Help! My Dog Is an A**hole!” While I think my two dogs are almost perfect, I do have a Pomeranian that barks (a lot). I could use some professional dog advice. And boy, did I get it. I listened for a bit, raised my virtual “hand,” and was invited to ask my question (Me: “How do I get my dog to stop barking at every UPS delivery?”). Five different professional dog trainers chimed in to offer constructive and helpful advice tailored to my situation. Some of these dog trainers have been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, and more. In another session, I heard a dog portrait artist asking for ideas. I messaged him via Instagram with some resources and, to say thanks, he offered to paint my dog. Did I mention he was commissioned to do a portrait of Prince William and Princess Kate’s dog? Ahhh, the power of social media!
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Why Is Clubhouse Successful?
Clubhouse has just been valued at $1 billion (yes, that is a “B”). In a report on The Future of Social Audio, Jeremiah Owyang, a Silicon Valley industry analyst who studies disruptive tech and corporate innovation, noted why he thinks Clubhouse is becoming massively popular: “I call this the ‘Goldilocks’ medium for the 2020s: Text is not enough, and video is too much; social audio is just right. It represents the opportunity for social connection and empathy without the downsides of video. Why is this use case taking off? Humans, stuck at home during quarantine; readily available smartphones and apps…the desire for human connection beyond text; and fatigue from too many videoconference calls.”
Tips For Getting Started On Clubhouse
If you’re ready to dive in and see if Clubhouse is for you, here are my suggestions:
• Download the app and indicate your interest. Then, if a friend on the app sees your name pop up, they can help move you up in line. Or, if you know someone already on Clubhouse, ask them if they have an invite to share. Everyone gets two invites when they join and more invites as they engage with the app.
• Once you’re on, there are lots of “Welcome to Clubhouse” types of sessions. It won’t take you long to get up to speed!
• Be aware that Clubhouse can be a huge time sink. For me, I’ve found it best to set nonworking times to listen to the app (while I’m making dinner or taking a walk, for example).
• Create a bio that represents who you are and your interests — business and personal if you’d like.
• There’s no direct messaging on Clubhouse, so consider having your Instagram or Twitter linked in your bio so people can reach you directly.
• Be selective about the clubs you follow and only follow people you are interested in. The algorithm learns your likes and will serve up more of those things.
• Don’t feel pressured to speak; some moderators will invite you to the stage, but you can simply click a button to say “not now.”
• If you have a question and want to know more, push the “raise hand” button and ask! You just might get some helpful advice, as I did (alas, my dog still barks).
• And finally, while a lot of people seemingly want to discuss “how to make a million dollars on Instagram,” there is also a nice spirit of giving on Clubhouse. I’ve heard many people be very generous with their time and advice.
Have fun! It’s not for everybody, but Clubhouse is definitely something you’ll want to know about.
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Author: Katy Boos, Forbes Councils Member