What’s all the fuss about Clubhouse?

Posted 08.02.21

It’s been almost a year since audio-only social networking app Clubhouse launched, and has since been everywhere. Discussions on Clubhouse often make it as trending topics on Twitter, and for those who suffer from FOMO, it’s hard to watch from the sidelines.

Here’s the USP: Clubhouse is an invite-only ‘drop-in audio chat’ app. It prides itself in authentic discussions and experiences – something that we’ve seen a rise in across the landscape with TikTok too. It has been downloaded 2.4 million times so far (with half of these downloads just in January 2021) and is currently only available on iOS, but it’s only a matter of time until it spreads to Android too.

The rise of Audio

The app is the perfect pairing of this demand for authenticity and the rise in audio. It’s a blend of old-school chatrooms and live podcasts. Users are allowed to sign up (once they get a highly coveted invite) and jump into any of the rooms. They can choose to silently listen, put a hand up and get involved, or leave quietly.

The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media, and an hour a day listening to podcasts, according to GWI. There’s been a clear rise in usage of audio and music streaming over the last couple of years – and it’s likely a trend we’ll see continue into 2021. Clubhouse hits this appetite for easy to consume audio with social authenticity.

Learning on Clubhouse
Once you sift through the rooms filled with motivational speakers and follow the topics you’re interested in, Clubhouse can be a great place to learn straight from experts – unedited. Recently, TikTok has also been focusing on educational content on its platform, commissioning experts such as scientists, mathematicians and doctors to create content to help it shake off its Gen Z reputation. There are currently 63.5 billion video views under the #LearnOnTikTok discover tag. Educational and learning-based content is on the rise, and that’s where Clubhouse has an edge if used correctly. Experts and celebrities, such as Oprah, Kanye West, Tiffany Haddish) take the floor and share knowledge, tips and how-tos.

Authenticity and meaning
In 2018, Facebook announced its shift to prioritise “meaningful interactions between people”, and that this would be reflected in its algorithm. Similarly, what made TikTok stand out was its refreshingly raw authenticity which was perceived as completely in contrast to the content on Instagram. It’s this unfiltered authenticity that people – especially younger generations – seem to crave, which Clubhouse delivers.

The app’s boom is also likely exacerbated since the pandemic and people missing physical social interaction and conversation. It’ll be interesting to see if the rise continues even after the world gets back to normal, or if the novelty will wear off – currently, it’s simply too soon to say.

What’s the value?
Creators often use this space to build a community, before then pushing them to move off Clubhouse and sign up to their services. Clubhouse can be a great way to get a community-engaged authentically, by giving them teasers of your longer content. As a moderator in a clubhouse room, you can also choose who to open the floor up to – people can pay for exclusive access to speak in ultra-exclusive rooms with exciting guest lists.

These can also act as mini focus groups. They are a great way to listen to your audience and get unfiltered comments and reviews and hear about what they want to see, which is important in feeding back into your strategic decisions.

My first few weeks on Clubhouse have certainly been interesting, but it definitely took some digging to find rooms I found interesting. The app certainly has appeal due to its ability to become a platform for authentic and interesting conversations, especially at a time where conversation and networking seem a distant memory. The fact that it’s nearly reached a $1 billion valuation in its most recent round of funding despite being invite-only and exclusive to iOS, means it definitely can’t be discounted.

Zahra Hasan – Insights Lead

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