Social icons on phone

Whither Clubhouse – The New Kid on the Social Media Block

In what I’m sure is no surprise to anyone, when I got invited to sign up for Clubhouse, my technology curiosity won out.

My first impression after signing up was a little “OK, now what?”. It’s not really clear what you’re supposed to do, but I knew some folks who had talked about scheduling chats and things of that nature, so I started trying to find and follow them, hoping I could maybe figure it out. As I did, and I saw them in rooms talking, I’d drop in and eventually sort of got a better idea of how this all worked, and last week, I finally dropped into a scheduled chat and took part in it with a small group of folks talking about legal tech education. Clearly, a topic I had some thoughts on.

My impressions? It’s different. Since it’s a social app on my iPhone (there’s no Andriod app, yet) I went in expecting Twitter, but for audio. But it was more like IRC for audio. (Yup, I just aged myself right there, didn’t I? If you don’t know about IRC kids, google it. – Internet Relay Chat)

Where was I? Oh yeah, chatting on Clubhouse. Why is it so different? Because much like the old days of chat rooms and such, if you want to see, or hear, what’s happening, you have to be there. There’s no timeline, or newsfeed, of what people are sharing that you can pop into and catch up on. In fact, there’s no recording at all. You were either there, in the room, or you missed it.

Honestly, this is very un-social media like. On the one hand, that makes it maybe a better tool for our mental health, we aren’t scrolling endlessly to make sure we get caught up with everything, we show up for a discussion, or we don’t. We either listen to the speakers, or, if allowed, we ask to speak ourselves. And then we all go our own ways. If there’s anything pulling us back into the app it’s the opportunity to drop in on various talks, and learn some new things. But, as with anything, there’s only so many talks we will end up being part of.

What makes me wonder though, is without that constant pull of “look what your friends are sharing” that the current social media tools offer us, will Clubhouse survive, and can it continue growing long-term? It’s a nice tool, an easy way to get a group together to talk about a topic and invite the public to drop in. (an audio webinar, of you like) But what will attract new users, and how will it handle growth. If you have to be in the room to get anything out of it, how difficult will it be as the user base grows into the millions, to find people and topics you care about? And how will we all fit those discussions into our busy days?

Most of all, what kinds of changes will they need to monetize themselves? Are they planning something similar to other social tools? Getting us all in and then starting down the advertising route? And if they do, how will they change things around to ensure folks keep coming back? Will they start offering a newsfeed of audio recordings we can listen to or will they stick with this idea that if you want to take part, you need to be there at the same time as the people you follow?

And is a generation of users who never talk on the phone really ready to embrace audio?

It’ll be interesting to see. I’m not holding my breathe that it will have long-term staying power, but for now, I think I’ll try and enjoy dropping in and talking to folks when I can. I do kind of miss doing that, and not having to worry about video!

Are you on Clubhouse yet? What are your thoughts?

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