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What is Clubhouse?

Although still in invite-only beta mode, Clubhouse has stirred up a lot of buzz. Its creative userbase has organized comedy shows, musical performances, and jam sessions. Some have even found love. Celebrities have started joining, including Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, whose Clubhouse talk triggered the formation of a “black market” for invitations to join the app. While those who are lucky to be “in” the Clubhouse have spent hours on end listening to a range of riveting conversations, it has left the rest of us wondering: Why is everyone talking about this app?

Photo Credit: Dmitry Mashkin Unsplash

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse describes themselves as “a new type of social product based on voice. It allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting, new people around the world."

Upon opening the app, you will see a “hallway” of various “rooms” full of people talking. The rooms show the topic being discussed and a list of the people in the room. All of these rooms are open for you to join and listen in, or even participate. You enter any room as an audience member, but you can “raise your hand” if you’d like to speak, and the speakers can choose to invite you up to “the stage.” You can even take the lead and start your own room as a moderator. Each room takes on its own vibe, some are virtual panel discussions while others are more of a fireside chat. With a worldwide user base already, there are many rooms happening at once, so you can jump between talks easily. Don’t worry about seeming rude. Thankfully, Clubhouse has made a “leave quietly” feature.

With no posts, videos, DMs, or any photos beside your profile picture, Clubhouse is completely focused on audio. Clubhouse launched its beta mode in March 2020, which seems like eerily good timing to create an app focused on creating authentic community around voice. Founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth wrote on their blog, “We think voice is a very special medium. With no camera on, you don’t have to worry about eye contact, what you’re wearing, or where you are. You can talk on Clubhouse while you’re folding laundry, breastfeeding, commuting, working on your couch in the basement, or going for a run. Instead of typing something and hitting send, you’re engaged in a back-and-forth dialogue with others. The intonation, inflection and emotion conveyed through voice allow you to pick up on nuance and form uniquely human connections with others. You can still challenge each other and have tough conversations—but with voice there is often an ability to build more empathy.” In a new era of “Zoom fatigue” and concerns around Instagram’s effects on mental health, it could be a breath of fresh air to have a social media app where you can still connect and engage with others without worrying about your appearance.

Davison and Seth want to use Clubhouse to create a social media experience that feels “more human.” “Instead of posting, you [can] gather with other people and talk. Our north star was to create something where you could close the app at the end of the session feeling better than you did when you opened it, because you had deepened friendships, met new people and learned… Our hope for Clubhouse is that it can be a new type of network based on empathy, discussion and sensemaking, rather than polarization. We think social media needs more of this."

Why isn’t it public yet and how can I get an invite?

Davison and Seth have stressed that they don’t want to create an air of exclusivity around Clubhouse. They say they are using this beta mode to build up their technology features and ensure their community guidelines and terms cover any imaginable offenses.

“We think it’s important to grow communities slowly, rather than 10x-ing the user base overnight,” Davison and Seth said on their Clubhouse blog, “This helps ensure that things don’t break, keeps the composition of the community diverse, and allows us to tune the product as it grows."

If you download the app, you can add your name to the waitlist to join and claim your username. Once on the waitlist, if any of your contacts join Clubhouse, they will see you are waiting to join and can offer you an invite. Once you are able to join, you can invite a handful of others. Please note, Clubhouse is only available for iOS at this time, but Davison and Seth have ensured they are working on an Android version.

How can I use Clubhouse for my business?

While it’s still too early to see how Clubhouse will affect social media and marketing, this is a great time to dive in and be an early adopter. Getting in the Clubhouse while there is a smaller userbase will ensure authentic connections and networking opportunities.

Here are our best tips for utilizing Clubhouse:

- Set aside time to explore and engage! Join rooms, raise your hand to speak up, and talk with strangers. Clubhouse is a great opportunity for business-owners to network with potential clients or future business partners.

- If other colleagues are on Clubhouse, create a room around a shared topic of interest. While it may seem nerve-wracking to publicly talk without an opportunity for edits, like a podcast or an email, you can label yourself as an important thinker to follow.

- Use your invites to get interesting employees or colleagues on the app. Clubhouse creates an interesting opportunity for anyone to potentially be a company or industry spokesperson.

- Fill out your profile with your own information, include a photo of yourself and a bio. Because this is a social network focused on genuine human connection, use your face, not your brand.

- Link your bio to your social media accounts. Because Clubhouse does not have a DM feature, other social media profiles can be used to connect and follow-up with others.

- Remember the principles of Clubhouse:

o Be yourself

o Be respectful

o Be inclusive

o Build empathy and understanding

o Foster meaningful and genuine connections


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