After using Clubhouse for a week, let’s talk about it

This thing is addictive. You have been warned. ...

Clubhouse is the hot new social network and for the past week, I’ve been spending at least a few hours a day on it, so be warned, it is addictive.

If someone you managed to miss the news, Clubhouse is an iPhone only (can be run on an iPad), audio-only platform where people discuss different topics and you can easily jump between conversations.

I have found myself spending the majority of my time in rooms relating to Tesla, which often helped put a voice to Twitter usernames I’ve interacted with for months or years.

With such success in the conversations relating to Tesla, I went looking for other Clubs and found my way to Investing, Design, Startups, Gaming, AI and of course Clubs about Clubhouse.

In the past week the startup that requires invites to join, has attracted a number of celebrities including Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Alexis Ohanian Gary Vaynerchuk, Jason Calicanis and Ev Williams.

What’s good

Finding rooms of interest are easy, thanks to trending rooms presented to you on the front page. You can also search groups by topics, and follow people you know or would like to hear more from.

Experts
The amount of amazingly talented people I’ve heard from in the past week is amazing. Not only are these people incredibly knowledgeable, they’re often great communicators and the way they deliver their information is something close to a Ted talk.

These personalities have been from across the world and this is easily one of the most magical parts of Clubhouse. Not only do you get to hear from these amazingly talented individuals, but you also get to ask them questions.

Decorum (Community Guidelines)
I was amazed at how civil these rooms where. When I first heard about Clubhouse, I assumed it’d dissolve into chaos as bored teenagers jumped into calls to purposefully ruin them. That never happened.

There are certainly people who end up dominating the conversation but that’s either a blessing or a curse depending if you agree with them or not.

Essentially you have to be invited to speak and that means the rooms are moderated. I noticed there is certainly a wide variety of how tightly, or loosely these are controlled. The best rooms are managed with a host and I’ve repeatedly seen them transitions from one host to another as it nears the early hours of the morning for different participants.

While Twitter (and many other) platforms often bring out the worst in people, that hasn’t yet happened on Clubhouse, people are generally nice to each other and keen to hear the opinion of others.

Random discovery
Being in Australia, timezones can mean there’s times through the day where there’s not a lot of conversations happening, so I’ll jump into some random ones to experience more of the platform.

One of the more unique experiences was listening to one of the top performers on Only Fans, who spoke candidly about the income she makes from the site, the challenges in joining that platform, and genuinely great insights that were all but applauded. It is those kind of almost accidental conversations you get a seat at the table to, that make Clubhouse something special.

I also discovered a random room titled ‘I’m in labor & having a baby! First clubhouse baby!’, so people are definitely using the platform for all kinds of uses.

This was followed by a Club called ‘Mark Zuckerberg is on clubhouse right now’. I listened to a speaker from Iraq who spoke about his circumstances, like not having access to credit cards. Is this a fact I could have Google’d, sure, but hearing him tell the story, was incredibly engaging.

Upcoming Calendar
After finding some people and Clubs to follow, the home screen offers a Calendar of events, with many Clubs committing to regular time slots to host conversions. You can add these to your Calendar, unfortunately they make you do this one at a time, I’d much prefer to see the ability to subscribe to the calendar feed.

What’s bad

There are definitely times where people talking over each other and that’s definitely difficult to listen to. Thankfully this is a lot rarer than you’d imagine.

Having no visual prompts like seeing the webcam of participants on Zoom or Teams means you’re guessing when someone has finished their point and all try to beat other participants to speak.

Repeated and rapidly changing discussions.
If you have ADHD, these conversations are likely to suit you well, for those who like slower paced, focused topics, then you’re probably best with an audiobook or podcast.

What ends up happening is that conversations start out being based on a topic of conversation, but inevitably go down a rabbit hole. Conversations jump around as different participants add their contributions, but probably the downside is when a new attendee joins and asks about a topic that had been discussed 5-10 minutes earlier. It would be beneficial to see a highlighted topic of conversation within the room, to help focus people’s attention.

At least twice this week, the person speaking had the equivalent of their BBC moment, with their kids busting into the room and disrupting the flow of the conversation.

Being audio-only does feel very restrictive in the age of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. The community is quickly working around this with little hacks, like sharing photos by updating their profile photos, then asking users to pull to refresh to see the update. This feels like an opportunity for Clubhouse to expand (especially after they ship the Android version).

Each Club is limited to 5,000 users with most of those not able to talk, but just listen. If you want to speak, you can raise your hand, with the moderator usually granting you the ability to share your microphone. If you were in a room where that didn’t take place, I could see you losing interest a lot faster. It definitely helps if you know the people running the room, as you’ll often get automatically added to speak when they see you join.

Overall

The engagement on Clubhouse is amazing and I found myself listening for multiple hrs per day while working, chiming in when I felt like I had something interesting to contribute.

The Tesla community is definitely my favourite, probably due to the fact that the company is so diverse that the amount of topics for discussion is virtually endless. For Tesla enthusiasts, this is a great opportunity to go deep on analysing everything from Elon’s tweets, to interview like the one with Sandy Munro, Full-self-driving beta and of course the share price.

While Clubhouse is hot right now, it’ll be interesting to see how fast the competition can react. I expect there’s a few people in board rooms scratching their heads, wondering why an audio platform is taking off, when they have an audio, video and chat service that would seem to offer more functionality.

Social Media has always been about going where your friends are and right now, at least this week, Clubhouse is the hot new network. I’m not sure how the platform will ultimately turn on ads, something that has to come to pay for this currently free service.

If you’re after an invite, go sign up at joinclubhouse.com to join the waiting list, or ask your friends online to see if they have one spare.

Categories
Social networks

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021
2 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Banshee
    9 February 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Have you heard of spell-check? It’s a handy feature to use before publishing your articles! Or at least proof read, please!

    Leave a Reply
    • Jason Cartwright
      10 February 2021 at 8:37 am

      Thanks Banshee, I have taken your feedback on board, will do better in the future. Have corrected the errors in this post.

      Leave a Reply

    Related Posts

    techAU