Clubhouse, the invite-only audio-based social media platform has been rising in popularity. The app experience feels like a combination of live podcasts and professional networking conferences. Although Clubhouse has become a buzzy topic in the last few months, it has been around since March 2020. The app originally launched with a small community of mostly venture capitalists. But by January 2021, there was a possibility you’d find Elon Musk in a Clubhouse room, which helped the app gain attention and traction.
After receiving an invitation to join Clubhouse and downloading the app, users are prompted to select their interests and connect their contacts in order to follow their friends who are on the app. Users can then browse rooms, which are discussions that are being “moderated,” or hosted, by accounts they follow, or explore other chat room discussions.
So, what is Clubhouse? The next major social media platform? A source of entertainment while we spend extra time at home in isolation? Here are some pros and cons that may attract or deter users and impact the trajectory of this app.
1. Depth of shared content
I’ve noticed a recent shift in social media users leaning towards wanting deeper, more meaningful content. Social media, particularly Instagram, tends to be a highlight reel showcasing the best aspects of our lives. Some users even note that social media can feel toxic because of the unrealistic expectations that others users’ content creates. I’ve found Clubhouse to be more thought provoking, engaging, and meaningful.
2. The essence of social gatherings during the isolation of a pandemic
I believe that Clubhouse’s recent spike in popularity is partially due people’s yearning for social gatherings, group discussions, and hearing from new people. Clubhouse chat rooms feel like being at a professional conference or company happy hour, which is something that many of us have not experienced in a year. Clubhouse provides a sense of social gathering in a time that people are experiencing distance and isolation.
3. You might run into a celebrity
Oprah, Drake, Kevin Hart, Ashton Kutcher, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk are some of the celebrities that use Clubhouse. At the time of publishing, the current Clubhouse room limit is 5,000 people. When Elon Musk is in a room, that room is often at capacity. If you’re able to secure a spot in a celebrity room, you may be able to ask them a question.
1. Lack of privacy
On nearly every other major social media platform, users can choose their privacy settings and which information they would like to display. Clubhouse doesn’t. If you value anonymity on social media, Clubhouse does not currently provide this.
2. Lack of content moderation
Since anyone in the audience of a chatroom can chime into a conversation, there’s no way to know if what we’re hearing is credible and reliable information. Clubhouse has also run into issues with unmoderated hate speech, particularly anti-semitism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Clubhouse has potential to gain further popularity, but I believe that their team will need to refine their privacy and harassment policies along with focusing on enhancing the usability and user experience.
3. Limited to iPhone users and invited guests
At the time of publishing, Clubhouse is currently only available to iPhone users. Additionally, Clubhouse can only be joined if another user invites you. Current Clubhouse users are occasionally given a small handful of invitations to give out to others.
Clubhouse could be the next big thing. Or its idea of audio only rooms could be co-opted by other platforms. Twitter and Facebook are building similar products. But whether it’s through Clubhouse or another platform, I expect social media to continue to move in the direction of deeper, more meaningful, and thought provoking content. This shift is an overall positive trend.