They say that by talking, people can understand each other. If only it were that simple! A week ago I received an invitation to join this new social network. For the time being, you can only access it if invited by another member – and you have an iPhone. I entered by granting permission through my profile on Twitter. Once inside, you create your own account, with your description, image and, if you wish, links to your Instagram and Twitter accounts. Though I haven’t used it for very long, I’d like to share with you my first impressions of it.
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is an application featuring real-time audio conversations (audio-chat, they call it) structured into virtual rooms on topics like technology, science, health, sports, art, entertainment, etc.
The rooms are easy to find, either through the agenda’s interface, scrolling and exploring it, or directly using the app’s Search feature. You can also create your own room, and choose from three different access alternatives: open to all Clubhouse users, exclusively accessible by people you follow, or restricted to only people you choose.
The organizers of a discussion are advised to provide a description of the event and the participants in the form of an invitation, long enough in advance so that they can promote it and attract an audience. In this way, as a member of this network, you get a good idea, beforehand, of the topic of conversation and of the participants in the conversation. If you’re interested in attending, you can export it to your agenda, and even share it on your networks 👇
Once inside the room, you’re immersed in the conversation. There are various people who serve as moderators and facilitators of the discussion for the other members that are participating in it. You see them all, with their respective avatars and profiles. If you so decide, you can start following them on this social network. The person or people who moderate have control of the microphones, so that at no time does the audio of multiple participants overlap. This keeps the room from devolving into a shouting match like certain debates and, unfortunately, some TV shows that seem to foment chaos and nasty, vacuous arguments. If you want to participate, you just click on the hand icon 👋 and wait to be given the floor. The audio quality is very good, regardless of who is speaking, where they are connected from, or their connection type. It’s all voice, and one cannot add any music or effects. In addition to the profile of the moderator/organizer of the talk, and the main guests, you see the usernames of those that they follow, and those of other people who are following the session (you will see your own avatar … and others will see that you are inside).
Sessions are short, and recording is prohibited. There is no repository of the discussions on the application that makes it possible to follow them later, as a podcast, for example, and you certainly cannot share them or embed them on any platform.
The rules and principles of the Clubhouse community are prominently displayed: be honest, respectful, and tolerant; develop empathy, and build relationships. These might seem like common-sense guidelines, but they are very much in order, given the most sordid aspects of social networks, of which we are all too aware; especially Twitter – which, by the way, is already working on an alternative: Twitter Audio Spaces.
If you would like to invite any of your Clubhouse contacts to the discussion, you can do so with a click.
I really like its usability. It is a very intuitive app, and its icons and emojis make it easy to navigate. There is one that I really love: when you are in a room listening and you decide to leave before the session ends, at the bottom of the interface you have a “Leave quietly” emoji 🤞.
My opinion of the app
- I find it conceptually different from everything that exists today on the networks
- The voice feature helps to humanize the relationships and interactions between users
- It boasts and embraces all the essential values of a social network: a forum for convergence, exchange, listening, a sense of belonging, recognition, conversation and horizontality
- I also believe that the social expression through audio helps to project individual and collective authenticity.
- And, as such a recent network (founded in March 2020), it is not contaminated with the most unpleasant characteristics plaguing other, more mature networks: anonymity, trolling, hate speech, harassment, pretentious posturing, official influencers who are full of themselves, destructive judgments, toxic vanity, etc.
- And I think this is an opportunity, because this new social network is getting started with an excellent base. From here on out, though, it is very much in the hands (in this case, in the mouths) of the users themselves, who will determine what they want Clubhouse to be in the future, especially when it is longer in beta model, and is open and available to everyone.
I found a creative way to use this social network in this Glamour article: on his Instagram profile, Leroy Church, the Casting Director for DreamGirlsCH, announced auditions, to take place exclusively on Clubhouse, on 2 and 4, January 2021.
Clubhouse and brands, companies or institutions
I haven’t seen any profiles of brands on Clubhouse yet, though I have seen them for technology congresses, like the CES 2021 (this year totally remote) they turn to genuine influencers, leaders and opinion shapers, like Jeremiah Owyang, to lead sessions containing presentations, product presentations, etc. in said congress.
The New York Times recently mentioned Clubhouse’s initiative to draw on content creators through a Creator Pilot Program with more than 40 influencers.
I also see a whole range of possibilities that could open up for brands, companies and institutions. But I envision this more along the line of the previous example: facilitating natural forums for meeting and conversation that can be led by people having authority and influence, always avoiding advertising and the diffusion of intrusive messages in these sessions. Another story is what will happen when Clubhouse begins to monetize its business model … through advertising 🥴
By Ángel González