Elon Musk is set to interview Kanye West on the App, Oprah has been seen in some of the rooms and even Ashton Kutcher has sat in random audiences listening to chats… but what exactly is Clubhouse?
Still very new, Clubhouse was launched in April 2020 by Alpha Exploration Co. based in Oakland, California. Clubhouse says on their new user guide that it “is a place for casual, drop-in audio chats. When you open the app, you can see “rooms” full of people talking—all open, so you can hop in and out, exploring different conversations. It’s a place to meet with friends and with new people around the world—to tell stories, ask questions, debate, learn, and have impromptu conversations on thousands of different topics.”
With joining a new social media platform and keeping in mind all of the privacy issues clouding the current ‘big tech’ companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, we do need to jump onto this platform with our digital eyes wide open.
I was dropped an invitation to Clubhouse via Instant Messenger from a friend around a month ago, and I finally joined on the 30th of January. I’ve always been an early adopter of ‘tech’ products, platforms and apps, and so I was excited to explore this invite-only social media app.
I fired it up on my iOS device and was catapulted into a conversation with some very interesting people. As a drop-in audio platform downloaded from the App Store and currently for iPhone users only, conversations are raw, uncut and authentic. Unlike radio or podcasting, Clubhouse brings all listeners into a space where connections become intimate, personal and genuine.
Currently limited to 5000 people in a room, Clubhouse provides the opportunity for any user to be a speaker (called being “on the stage”), and so any member can connect with celebrities, influencers, entrepreneurs, billionaires and musicians. Elon musk’s recent drop in on the platform started a frenzy and had a “room” full in no time. I see now that Kanye West and Elon musk are set to chat on clubhouse as well.
I’ve dropped into rooms with laughter, yoga meditation, stand-up comedy, self-help tutorials, and general chats, to name a few. You can quietly exit at any time and jump into another room, as well as raise your hand to ask questions. Last week I was asked to join “on the stage” of the First Good Morning South Africa room, hosted by Nick Jordaan (prominent singer and songwriter) and Brent Lindeque (editor of GoodThingsGuy).
The experience was riveting, and it brought with it a feeling of “connection”, which is very different from other social media apps, in my view. Most social media apps are shoving content down our throats, littered with endless comments from keyboard warriors and bots. Clubhouse may just be that new platform that allows people to follow and connect in this “new way of connecting”.
Meaningful, authentic and raw connections are something that people are craving. With everyone remote-working and being physically disconnected, the app gives you a sense of “interaction” that will perhaps become some form of new normal. Clubhouse is that platform that is revolutionising our connections in a COVID-19 world.
What we can hope for is that the developers of Clubhouse, who ask for real names and no aliases to keep things authentic, are not going to fall into the bracket of ‘traditional’ social media platforms which have developed a reputation amongst their users of ‘extracting and exploiting’ rather than being platforms that ‘engage and empower.’
There is a huge opportunity for Clubhouse to change the status quo and trajectory of how their users, who make them a success, are treated. Time will tell, but as it currently stands, I personally like what I see so far. Clubhouse, don’t let us down and stay true to the energy and ambience you have already created through the onboarding and positioning of your platform, which is authenticity, realism and real human connection.