For those that might not have heard yet, there’s a new social media platform in town. The Clubhouse app has been generating a ton of buzz within the tech industry as people from all different walks of life flock to the platform to listen to experts in their preferred field, or just to chat up some like minded people about different topics. Even some of the most famous people in the world are joining in on the discussion - people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Malcolm Gladwell have made appearances in recent weeks.
The platform has been exploding in popularity lately. But can it keep it up, and what could be next for it? That’s what we’ll cover in this post. To kick it off, let’s quickly go through exactly what Clubhouse is (if you’re already pretty familiar with it, or are on Clubhouse, you can skip over this section):
What Is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a drop-in audio app that lets users pop into different chats about various topics, or even start their own room if they want to talk about something going on in the world. It’s in several different countries around the world, so you really get some diverse perspectives. The rooms range from a variety of topics, so pretty much anybody can find something that interests them. In one day for example I participated in a conversation about LinkedIn, listened to some folks chat about marketing, and poked around in a room about dating for 1-2 minutes.
It’s also gotten some traction thanks to some well known influencers, namely Elon Musk. A few weeks ago, after Robinhood restricted buying (but not selling) on a few securities, he hosted Robinhood CEO and founder Vlad Tenev in a Clubhouse room, grilling him over the incident. Elon would like to talk to another Vlad; he recently expressed interest in hosting a Clubhouse conversation with Vladimir Putin.
Here are some other stats to know, courtesy of Backlinko:
There are over 6 million users , up from 1,500 in May of 2020
Clubhouse is currently valued at over $1 billion, and has raised over $10 million as of February 5th
Under the ‘social networking’ category on the App Store, Clubhouse currently ranks 5th
On the SEO website ExplodingTopics.com, searches for ‘Clubhouse App’ have increased over the past six months 99X.
That’s the good news. Now the bad: not everyone can join Clubhouse, at least not right now. In order to join, you need to have an invite from someone already on the platform, creating a level of exclusivity that may be helping generate buzz. In addition, it’s only available for those using the iOS platform. They are working on getting it rolled out for Android, though there is currently not an ETA on when that might happen.
They also have been dealing with some security issues lately. Clubhouse has stated that they are going to fix some of the back end code and technology to help alleviate concerns that other parties - namely in China - may be listening in. This may catch the attention of the government, as most things with China do. It’s worth watching in the days and weeks ahead, especially if Clubhouse continues its current growth trends.
What Are Some Pros and Cons?
Pro: There’s something for everyone
I’m not exaggerating when I say this: anyone can find a topic that interests them on the platform. It’s a great way to hop on and listen to experts in whatever field you choose wax on about cool topics. I personally have taken away some really cool insights from some of the rooms (for example, one room convinced me retargeting in marketing is starting to be a dinosaur, and that using AI to build out profiles of your ideal customer is the way to go).
Con: It’s tough to actively participate
Anyone who went to grad school with me knows I like to share my opinions and participate. While not impossible, it’s tough to do that on Clubhouse. Often rooms can range in the hundreds of people and moderators/speakers are limited, so it can be tricky to contribute. There are smaller rooms that you can hunt down that are easier to participate in, but those can be hit or miss.
Pro: It’s very diverse
Check out the volume of app downloads by country outside of the United States, per Backlinko:
This app really does let you get a global perspective on things, something that otherwise can be tricky. Following intelligent, insightful people everywhere just became a lot easier thanks to Clubhouse.
Con: Navigating it can be overwhelming
Having a wide variety of topics and rooms can be a blessing and a curse. Because of the sheer volume of topics on the platform, Clubhouse can be difficult to navigate. It really works best when you hone in on a few influential speakers or topics and slowly expand out from there. Otherwise you can get lost very easily, and have a lot of pop-up notifications come your way quickly (I recommend leaving these on, as this is the best way to get notified when people or topics you are interested in go live).
Pro: It’s a great way to build awareness - for individuals and businesses
It can be really tough to convince people to directly buy a product via Clubhouse without seeming phony. What you can do though is build awareness for your brand or personality. Take us at Oak Moon for example. Hosting a regular room on the platform would be an awesome way to expose people to our insights, to our consultants personally, and help us stay in front of people so that when they are ready to enter into a relationship with us, we are top of mind. The sales cycle for consulting is long, and this is a great marketing tactic to help us stay in front of customers for longer periods of time, and in engaging, meaningful ways.
So Where Is It All Going?
In many ways, Clubhouse is the perfect social media platform for what the world is dealing with now. With the COVID-19 pandemic driving everyone to their homes and away from large crowds, the platform provides a great way for people to connect that they may not otherwise have had. The meteoric rise of the past year confirms that.
Moving forward though, I think some of the shine may come off Clubhouse as life slowly returns to normal this year. Most of us miss the ability to be with others in person and not virtually, as I’m sure anyone who has spent the past year working from home can attest to. Technology communication fatigue is a real thing, and I believe this will impact Clubhouse to some degree. I don’t believe this will completely wipe out the platform, but the growth rates may slow down as people venture out of the house, hopefully starting late spring/early summer.
Another item to watch out for is competition from other social media platforms. One in particular I’m looking at is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg rarely misses an opportunity to try to put Facebook in a more dominant position, and using their network and audience to build something similar is something I wouldn’t rule out. It’s a pattern that has played out before where Facebook has tried to emulate the competition when they see something gaining steam. When those efforts haven’t worked, they’ve just acquired the upstarts (see Instagram and WhatsApp).
There’s also the issue of monetization. Currently, Clubhouse is not taking steps to make money off users or the platform itself - wise given how they are trying to grow the product. I suspect that will eventually change, but what form it takes will be important. Will there be ads on the platform that users are exposed to when they sign in, or will there be a premium offering with enhanced features? Perhaps there may even be premium rooms where real thought leaders like Elon wax poetically, and people pay the price of admission? What form this takes will be important.
It’s also a question for the influencers as well. Think of Instagram and the people who used it when it first came out: they were just going online to share pictures with the world. It’s now evolved to where individuals can partner with businesses or other entities and be paid for promoting products via their Instagram feed. I can see Clubhouse following a similar path - well known people get in a room and charge a small fee for people to hop in and be a part of the discussion, with the platform taking a cut and the speaker(s) getting the rest. I don’t think Clubhouse and anywhere near this point yet, but as the platform grows it will approach it in the future.
Overall, I think the platform is worth checking out if you happen to have an iPhone (and will be when they roll it out for Android). It can be tough to navigate at first and overwhelming if you don’t have a game plan going in, but chances are you’ll learn something from being in one of the rooms or taking part in a discussion. I’m not sure how much staying power the platform has - I want to see how it does after COVID-19 is dealt with before I make that judgement - but while we are limited in how we can interact with others, it’s a good social media tool to check out.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a good person to follow, I’m @mcrimmins. If you’re extra nice to me I might even have an invite for you.
Oak Moon is a consulting agency based out of Columbus, OH that helps companies market their brands, define value propositions and uncover customer insights, among other services. If you are interested in hearing more or have questions or comments about this blog, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.