The rise and fall of Clubhouse

Over the past few months I’ve written various posts about Clubhouse. I wrote about how it had had grown but also my thoughts on the future. Over the past month or so it seems that Clubhouse has fallen. I believe it to be because the app came out whilst many of us were in lockdown. We weren’t able to do the things we would usually do and so Clubhouse became one of the things we used to take up our time.

Whilst the creators were watching their invention grow and thrive, the users although using and possibly even enjoying the app, were also longing for ‘real life’ to return.

And so once restrictions began to ease, use of the app reduced. People no longer needed something to fill their time as they could get back to going to the movies, going for dinner, going for drinks, going to museums, seeing friends and whatever else they did pre-pandemic.

Plus, unlike other things that came about during lockdown, Clubhouse was not able to replace Instagram or Twitter and it’s certainly not enough to replace social interaction.

The future of Clubhouse

I thought it would be fun to think about what Clubhouse will look like in the future. These are simply ideas rather than what I think should or shouldn’t happen. This post has been in the drafts for a few months and so some of these ideas may have already been implemented or been announced as future updates.

Paying the host

Paying to enter a room in the same way that we pay to enter clubs or events is something I consider likely to happen. It could be paying a set amount but it could also be more of a tipping feature where the room is free but tha audience are able to tip if they’ve enjoyed the room.

It would be interesting to see who uses the feature. I definitely think celebrities and influencers would be critisiced for using it because it could be seen as taking advantage particulary if they don’t have much to offer in terms of the quality of what is being spoken about. If clubhouse took a fee per payment, it could become a way for the app to generate money.

A payment feature was announced in April 2021 and creators will get 100% of the earnings.

Room membership

Similarly to the above, I think clubhouse could introduce some sort of membership for a room. This could involve a payment of X amount per month for X months. This could be used for online communities where the person leading gives monthly talks or holds weekly group discussions. It could be used by groups already existing outside of the app as an alternative to Zoom or Teams.

Recording rooms

I think there’s a possibility of being able to to record the audio within the app but I think that this would take away from the appeal and exclusivity. If you can just listen to it later then why would you bother to show up live? I can see there being issues with this such as less people showing up live or people taking the recording and posting it on YouTube.

Some other ideas for this feature would be restrictions on how long you can record the conversation and people having to pay to access the audio. This could be a one off payment per file or implemented into the premium version of the app that requires a monthly payment.

More visuals

Another idea is to add more visual aspects to the app. This could be by having more pictures or allowing for video content. However, I think there is a risk that this would weaken the USP of the app because audio only was innovative and we already have Instagram for visual content.

Direct Messaging

Similar to what is already available on Instagram, Twitter and most other social media. Implementing a direct messaging feature is great way to increase the use of an app, if users use it to communicate with people they follow. Due to the type of app that clubhouse is I think the majority of people use it to listen to people that they don’t personally know so a messaging feature may be of little value. In contrast, for social media such as Twitter or Instagram where people can have private accounts and only follow family and friends direct messaging is considered useful.

Increase accessibility

Lastly allowing more people to use the app. One of the main ways is extending the app to android users which finally happened a few days ago. Another way is to no longer have the app be invite only. I think this was useful when the app was being portrayed as exclusive but if the creators want to grow the app, the invite only aspect doesn’t really help with that. Although I think there are likely to be other reasons to keep that aspect such as collecting the data of how the users are connected

On a different note but still on the topic of accessibility, another feature could be to have audio captions to make it usable for those with hearing impairments. However, I think this could come with some issues if people speak over each other or if people don’t speak clearly the captions may be highly inaccurate which would reduce the experience. On the flipside, Clubhouse app could be considered as accessible to those with visual impairments as they don’t miss out on any imagery like they would on a YouTube video, IGTV or Instagram live.

Clubhouse probably won’t become the next Instagram

We already have Instagram, it can’t be replaced.

It’s more likely that other apps will copy it and it will die out or become less popular, like snapchat.

When it comes to the growth and longevity of Clubhouse, there is a lot to be considered.

Firstly, there is likely to be a period of rapid growth once it becomes available for android. However, when it comes to longevity in the next 3 months, 6 months or even a year I think that things are much less certain.

Once the app becomes more easily available the amount of users will increase for a period of time as people that didn’t previously get access can now join and see what the hype was about. There is likely to then be a decline in users as some will lose interest in the app after a few weeks.

In terms of how long the app will last, unless we all become addicted like how we are with Instagram I think it will be a question of ‘Is what I gain from this going to be worth more than the time that ends up being wasted?’ or ‘Is what I can gain from this different from what I already have access to through youtube, podcasts, IGTV, books, articles etc? and lastly ‘Is what I can gain for this better than the alternatives on apps I’m already familiar with?’

I think there is something to be said about being on the cusp, on showing up in the early stages because you’re interested, not just because something is trendy or popular.

The reason why I think clubhouse is such a big deal is because it’s very rare for a new social media app to show up and gain such traction in such a short space of time, especially because it has resulted in 2 of the biggest social media apps to add a similar features so that they can compete.

I also think it’s great that there are so much options for what you could do with the app: read a play, discuss pop culture, live podcast, talk show, etc that it can appeal to a range of age groups.

I’m looking forward to see how the app grows and develops in the future. Will it last, will Twitter/Instagram/Discord alternatives force it to die out as people already have followings on those platforms? But also what new features will it have and once things go back to ‘normal’ will we still be interested?

Writing for the moment

I recently realised that I enjoy writing about current events.

One of my most read posts is about Instagram guides, I think I published it a day after guides became available to everyone, it was a hot topic.

If I’d written the post a few days or even weeks later it would have no longer been relevant. Of course the post can be read at any time but it was written for a particular moment in time.

Yesterday, I published a post about Clubhouse. I first drafted the post over 2 months ago and at the time it was over 1500 words, significantly longer than what I would usually post. For various it took a while to make time to edit the post to something I was happy to share.

But, what I noticed was that each time I went through the post, things had changed. Things like the number of users and the other apps that had added an audio feature. I regret not publishing the post sooner as with any hot topic, sooner is always better than later.

I think it’s fair to say that Clubhouse is still very relevant and will continue to be for the months to come. However, the post I published yesterday is very much of the time. That’s the issue you face when writing about hot topics, they don’t always last.

In contrast, the posts I’ve written that focus more around life lessons, career and self-help are what I would consider evergreen. They will be just as relevant today as they will be 12 months from now.

Why Clubhouse is so appealing?

I think I first heard about Clubhouse in November 2020 but as an Android user I knew that it wouldn’t be
something that I would have access to.

I also didn’t personally know anyone that used it.

But over the past 6 months it has grown rapidly.

I initially heard about Clubhouse on Twitter, people with access to the app would be on Twitter commenting on the rooms that they were in. From what I saw it seemed to vary from useful business related discussions to ‘rooms’ full of people venting about those they dislike.

In the months that have followed, I’ve seen more and more people that I follow online joining Clubhouse. I’ve also read a lot of articles sharing what Clubhouse is but also more in-depth ones discussing how it could change in the future and how long it’s popularity will last.

A woman I follow on Instagram that runs a buisness shared that she was hosting a room where they’d be discussing gaining funding for startups and also working in PR.

I’ve also heard someone on a podcast explain that they had the app for a short while but have now deleted it. They found themselves getting sucked into the kinds of rooms that were focused on drama rather than listening to things that were useful.

Another woman I follow on Instagram mentioned that she thought it was a really good app idea. She thought it would be a good place to have conversations within a closed community.

I’ve found seeing how this app has come along, how it’s used and how it’s grown incredibly interesting. I think clubhouse showed up in the right place at the right time and it appealed to people in multiple ways.

It’s an evolution of podcasts

Firstly, Clubhouse is like an evolution of podcasts, a type of content that has really grown over the past few years in terms of people listening to them but also more people creating them.

I think what we like about podcasts is that they’re fairly simple, it’s just people talking. You get to listen in on a conversation or monologue and maybe even learn something new. The fact that Clubhouse is in an audio format means you can listen whilst you go for a walk, do the washing up or make dinner without missing out on any visuals.

Clubhouse is stripped back

Secondly, Clubhouse showed up without bells and whistles, it’s stripped back. From what I know, you have the rooms, the hosts and you can follow people and be followed and the content is live. Whatever happens in the moment happens, there’s no editing it out. Of course those hosting may come with notes of the points they want to make, particularly if they’re there to teach and share knowledge but they could also be in their pajamas.

In contrast, podcast are a little more polished because as much as you might be having a casual conversation you probably don’t just say ‘okay, lets press record’ and see how it goes. And when compared to Instagram live which is also live content, the fact that you can see the person changes things.

I think the simplicity of just being audio focused allowed Clubhouse to stand out as most other popular social media apps have much more variation (Instagram has Lives, IGTV, Reels, feed images and videos, Guides and Stories) although it is worth noting that they didn’t start out that way.

A sense of exclusivity

The third and final appeal that is perhaps the most prominent factor is that you have to be invited. I think it’s interesting to think about how Clubhouse is sometimes paraded online as this exclusive app that you have to be invited into, yet everyone seems to have it.

According to an article dated 22 February 2021, Clubhouse now has 10million users which is around 0.13% of the global population. However, I still don’t think it can be considered exclusive as anyone can be invited (as long as you have an iPhone) and their is no criteria to join.

In relation to the idea of exclusivity, I think for some people knowing celebrities/well known people are on the app is part of the appeal because you get the chance to hear them talk in a more causal setting. I know a little while ago Elon Musk popped up in a room which drove a lot of attention to the room but also just the app in general. Now joining the app means you’re in the same ‘space’ as someone like Elon Musk (A famous Billionaire and Entrepreneur).

The other exclusivity aspect is that the audio is not recorded which means you really had to be there. I think there is a lot of value in that because these days with everything being recorded people end up being reluctant to show up in the moment.

Do you have Clubhouse and if so, what aspect of it appealed to you?