Clubhouse – why the hype?
Clubhouse is the newest star to shoot through the sky of social media. A quick scroll through your LinkedIn and Twitter feeds will confirm just how brightly this app shines. But why the hype? What makes Clubhouse so special?
This American app is built on two fundamental principles: users can either have exchanges and discussions in rooms, or simply listen. Yes, that is correct: listen. Unlike other social media channels, Clubhouse is audio-based. No photographs, comments, likes or videos. Here are three main reasons why this has worked to the app’s advantage.
The first rule of Clubhouse: exclusivity
Inventors Paul Davison and Rohan Seth have cleverly made the app available to only those who have both an Apple device and received an invite from an existing Clubhouse member. This level of exclusivity means some invitations are being offered for money. Currently, the app is for iOs users only, leaving Android users excluded. Furthermore, even those who have an iPhone are limited by either being a registered user or by a personal invite. But why?
The co-founders explain the decision on exclusivity, stating the app is still in the beta phase and therefore being built slowly. While this makes sense, there seems to be a second prong to this approach which is a cunning strategy: artificial scarcity. Artificial scarcity means the rarer a product, the more sought after it becomes. Once the hype around Clubhouse piqued interest, the well-known FOMO (fear of missing out) set in. And who wants to be the odd person out? Although, those invited inside the social circle of Clubhouse have a decision to make: decline and miss out on the latest and greatest, or dismiss data protection concerns (Clubhouse has access to all numbers stored in a user’s mobile phone), and join the selected few in the fray.
The second rule of Clubhouse: talk out loud
We live in a world of networks; connecting brands and people has never been easier. Presence on social media is all but mandatory for brands and people wishing to remain relevant and visible to the public eye. Anything and everything can be shared, from stories to opinions, counter-opinions to feelings, and emojis to videos. Clubhouse opens the door to sharing even wider, offering more intimacy than other apps have been able to. It’s audio-based, and voice is a powerful thing. The app delivers a level of closeness akin to sitting next to someone and having a conversation – it’s the personal element social media has been lacking. Members can listen in real-time, potentially take part in a chat, and the courageous can register to speak.
The third rule of Clubhouse: spontaneity
Clubhouse has been likened to a type of live podcast, as both formats are audio-only. However, there is one crucial difference that sets the app apart from podcasts: spontaneity. Podcasts are prepared and take planning. Clubhouse is spontaneous. Members can travel from room to room, and those choosing a lengthy stay in one club or room are still reached by dynamic change as topics shift, and listeners, participants and speakers come and go. Events are not recorded (this function is not yet available); either you heard it or you missed it. Greetings from FOMO.
One concern of unrecorded talks is fear of potential hate speech being spread through this new channel, and only having the option of reporting the member with little recoil. Comments on Facebook and Instagram are recorded and can be reviewed; digital proof of potential injustices. And while Clubhouse does allow for the reporting of users, is that really enough to stop a serious issue?
Clubhouse & Corona
Despite a few concerns, Clubhouse is taking the world by storm. In the current climate, restrictions due to the pandemic continue to tighten, leaving people alone and longing for personal interactions and closeness. Clubhouse welcomes, comforts and brings to life an intimate connection many have lost in the past year. This app delivers a welcomed break from monotony, boredom and screen time with the power of voice.
The Clubhouse of the future
Clubhouse is quite literally (and ironically) all talk. The audio app’s success, though still in its infancy, owes its present success to an optimal mix of exclusivity, interactivity, spontaneity, and timing. Despite the scrutiny questioning data protection and control, in name, Clubhouse transports us to a simpler time with fewer problems while connecting us to a closer future.