Why do I keep hearing about Clubhouse?

It’s no secret that people love jumping on the next new bandwagon. It seems like the hot platform in 2021 is Clubhouse. So what's it all about?

At Optily, we save you time–we don’t waste it. Here’s a 30-second rundown of the basic information on the new Clubhouse app:

What is it? It’s an audio-based social networking app: think live podcast or less rigid panel discussion. No video, just listening to people chat.

How do I get it? It’s currently still in beta, so it’s invite-only. Someone who’s already on the platform has to send you an invite tied to a phone number (you can score an invite on eBay or check out social media forums or groups–just be careful of scammers!).

Also, it’s currently iPhone-only–sorry Android 😩 (although it’s coming soon to the Playstore too).

Who’s using it? 3,000,000 people (as of March 2021–one of whom is Elon Musk). It’s clearly not that exclusive, so there’s already a community of content creators, celebrities, and low-key lurkers forming.

If that’s all you needed, cool beans. 🙌 If you want all the details about the hot new app, we’ve got you covered below!

How Clubhouse started

Clubhouse was launched right at the start of the lockdowns in the US in March 2020. It was started in, you guessed it, Silicon Valley by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth of Alpha Exploration Co.

In May 2020 it had a mere 1,500 users and a valuation of $100 million. Last month, in February 2021, with the Gamestonk fiasco and Elon Musk hopping on board the platform to publicly chat with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, there was a huge buzz for invites to gain access to the exclusive event. The number of users skyrocketed to 3 million.

As with anything that has such a huge demand but limited supply (each new Clubhouse user gets just 2 invites to give away initially), a secondary market emerged. You can buy invites on Reddit, Alibaba, Craigslist, or eBay–as always, be wary of scammers!

Using Clubhouse

Once you’ve secured an invite, the app is simple to use. You enter topics you’re interested in when you create an account and you’ll be shown rooms that relate to those. As with all social media, you can create a profile and add friends.

The whole point of the app is to join rooms and listen to discussions. While you can host your own–you probably won’t at first. As you get your bearings, you may want to ask questions in rooms you’re just popping into. In that case, you raise your hand, and if the speakers like your question, you’ll be able to turn your audio on and ask it for everyone to hear–just like at a conference.

When you’re done with listening in, you just click “leave quietly” and you’re back to the main menu.

Everyone’s sick of Zoom meetings and staring at a screen at this point, so having a platform that’s basically just listening to a conference call about something fun (not just your sales pipeline), is a nice break and comes at a time when we all could use a bit more connection to the outside world.

“Voice is a very intimate tool. There’s something powerful about being able to hear someone’s authenticity, vulnerability, and strengths all in one space,” Julie Wenah said to USA Today last month. “I think this helps break down barriers and shows we are more alike than we are different.”

Making your own room

Once you’re ready for the big leagues and you’ve got some cool topics to share with the world, you can host your own room. And it’s super simple to make one (goodbye glitchy web-conferencing apps 👋)–just make sure you’ve got your speakers lined up.

There are three privacy options for rooms: open (anyone can join), social (only people you’re connected to can see and join), or closed (only those you specifically invite can come). Next, you add a topic, which will be the name of the room. Invite people and then you’re done!

Privacy concerns

It’s 2021, so of course, privacy is a huge concern and top of everyone’s mind–iOS 14 and Google, looking at you.

With Clubhouse being an audio app, there are concerns about privacy with regard to recording the conversations that go on there. While the app warns users that sharing audio recordings without permission from the speakers is a violation of their terms, the app itself records conversations, even in private rooms (although they say they delete them as soon as the room closes, unless there is a complaint).

The app has been issued a warning by the largest German consumer-protection organization and is under scrutiny from French and British data watchdogs, especially with regard to the GDPR.

Clubhouse responded, “User privacy and security are a top priority at Clubhouse. We are actively working with organizations in the EU on GDPR compliance and have been grateful for their support and partnership.”

It also requests users add all their phone contacts (although this is totally optional), which creates shadow profiles for people who aren’t even on the app. The recent petition signed by tens of thousands across France and the UK specifically focuses on this part of the app’s privacy terms, with the storage and possible third-party sharing of contact data unspecified.

The app and all of these developments are very new, so make sure to watch this space.

Influencing others already

Privacy concerns notwithstanding, social media is abuzz with talk of the new app. Tons of influencers are hosting rooms and people love the more personal nature and relaxed feel of it. You’re not just Tweeting at Chris Rock anymore–you can hear him live and even ask him questions right there in your own voice!

So, of course, other platforms are bandwagoning. Facebook, Twitter, and Discord are already working on their own versions of similar types of add-ons. And one of them may end up with the upper hand because of a few factors:

  • These platforms already have tons of users
  • They’ve already got the data policies and international legal teams in place
  • They run on Android–so they’re already available to everyone

Should businesses join?

While it hasn’t announced any advertising opportunities yet, it probably will have to monetize at some point. See if a few people on your marketing team hop on now while Clubhouse is still in the early stages. You will probably have a leg up on your competitors who might be more “wait and see” about it.

If it takes off, you’ll know the community and how to work in your branding and promote internal thought-leaders. If it fizzles out, there’s still tons of great material being shared in a candid and relaxed environment, so you’ll probably still learn a lot that can help you grow your business.

Expand your channels

At Optily, we’re all about omnichannel approaches, so we’re really excited to see something shaking up the fairly well-established world of social media. That being said, Google and Facebook are still the kings of content distribution and online marketing, so we hope you’re on top of those platforms already.

If you’re up and running with ads on these 2 platforms, you’re likely having a whale of a time figuring out which campaigns are performing best, on which platform, and at which time. If so, we can help. Check out the Optily single-click ad optimization tool that instantly recommends how to shuffle your budgets around making the most of your ad spend. Try it free for 2 weeks!

Stay tuned, you might even see some of the Optily team in rooms on digital marketing in Clubhouse!

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