A brief aside for the uninitiated what exactly is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a live group audio app. Users remain faceless and can log in to live rooms at any time. The themes of the aforementioned rooms vary wildly: fans of specific books and musicians can host discussions with fellow fans; moguls and celebrities can answer questions directly; etc.
The primary appeal of Clubhouse is that anyone can chime in. Average users directly interact with their favorite podcasters, celebrities, and politicians. Instead of merely consumers, users become active contributors. Similar to podcasts, Clubhouse is also accessible even while otherwise engaged by driving, exercising, or cleaning the house, but the user-generated nature of Clubhouse gives users a sense of intimacy and closeness with their admired creators.
Clubhouse began as a social media startup under Paul Davison and Rohan Seth targeted at podcasters and their audiences. As with many startups, they began their business with funds from angel investors and venture capitalists.
The social audio app was originally released for iOS in March 2020 with an invite-only userbase”in order to get in, a current member had to send you a code. Out the door, Clubhouse enjoyed reasonable growth and accumulated 600,000 registered users by the end of 2020, as well as a considerable wait-list (including many notable Silicon Valley players) pining for entry codes.
Things picked up for the audio app in early 2021. From February 1st to 15th, Clubhouse's downloads more than doubled, rocketing to 8.1 million in two weeks. Tech royalty like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, notably, chatted casually with average users and popped into other live sessions. Codes are famously sold on eBay for up to $400 a pop.
Clubhouse has introduced a number of updates to the app, including a Patreon-like service called Clubhouse Payments, a text feature, and the option to record audio sessions to create podcasts. Clubhouse's leadership recently announced that they have done away with the entry-code system, although the app still has a waitlist implemented for new users. Additionally, Clubhouse has partnered with TED to provide unique talks and discussions through the app. The recent release of Clubhouse for Android led to a significant uptick in downloads worldwide”7.7 million in June 2021, about ¾ of which came from India alone, demonstrating the app's global appeal.
However, no matter how you cut it, Clubhouse's explosive growth is slowing down. Currently ranked 46th among social apps in Apple's App Store, Clubhouse is calculating how to foster longevity in a market dominated by heavy-hitters like Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.
Some argue that Clubhouse's decline is inevitable”the longer the app is available, the fewer downloads will occur as those who want to join the app will have already done so. The rapid growth seen in 2021 is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain.
Others argue that Clubhouse's explosive popularity was largely tied to the Covid-19 pandemic, and its current decline will only increase as people gradually return to in-person hangouts. Social isolation left many, if not the majority of, people feeling lonely and disconnected. Live group audio was an effective balm.
Additionally, Clubhouse's structure punishes lateness or random droppers-in. When streaming on Twitch, Youtube, or even going live on Instagram, the visual element allows latecomers to easily extrapolate what's going on. Similar to joining an ongoing conversation at a party, in Clubhouse one may need to ask Hey, what's going on? However, unlike a small conversation between three people, a Clubhouse room can contain up to 5000. It makes it hard to figure out what's going on, or ask if a user enters a room 10 minutes, 20 minutes late, or logs into Clubhouse randomly to find interesting content.
Despite a recent decline in downloads, Clubhouse has nevertheless had an impact on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify have all introduced live audio features. Based on these initiatives, it's safe to say group audio isn't going to disappear soon, even if its preeminence may be short-lived.
Clubhouse isn't dead, but its staggering growth in 2021 is unsustainable. It will likely evolve into a more niche app, with a small but passionate userbase”especially as social media giants roll out similar features.
Live group audio is here to stay, for now at least, and will become more widespread. So, who should use group audio? How can it be used most effectively?
Those who generate primarily visual content, such as artists, chefs, models, fitness gurus, photographers, or gamers may find it difficult to transpose their typical offerings to Clubhouse. Even people who work with audio, like musicians or ASMR creators, may face challenges due to the uncontrolled sound being made by live participants.
Clubhouse has many potential benefits. Hosting a room periodically in Clubhouse if you already have a strong following could be an excellent way to connect directly with your audience. If you're an aspiring or well-established thought leader, hosting Q&As or talk-back sessions on Clubhouse could prove fruitful for gaining, engaging, and retaining followers”as evidenced by TED's recent partnership with Clubhouse. If you're a superfan of just about anything aiming to connect with other fans from around the world, Clubhouse is a strong social media choice.
However, keep in mind that using Clubhouse can introduce an element of chaos to any discussion. Akin to live performance, there is always a risk for hecklers and disruption, but for many, that is a chance worth taking for something organically wonderful to happen. Unlike other live-streaming apps, users are not strictly audience members, but equal participants.
If you're interested in growing your business through effective social media strategy across Clubhouse and other platforms, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org