For once, the spotlight isn’t shining on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or the other social media platforms. Instead, all the attention has moved across to Clubhouse. Everybody seems to be talking about the platform, which means marketers must quickly follow.
Clubhouse has attracted interest from global megastars from Oprah to Jared Leto, Chris Rock to Drake. In fact, even Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have appeared on the new app. Clubhouse’s rise can be compared to that of Facebook or Instagram back in the day. However, the difference between Clubhouse and these industry leaders is that the latter managed to stay there.
With the initial buzz of Clubhouse starting to dwindle, the new question is whether the app can remain at the top. That’s what we’re going to investigate today!
Clubhouse is an application where communities and strangers come together to hold voice-based conversations. When using the app for the first time, you’ll see a list of ongoing discussions. Depending on what takes your fancy, you can dip in and out of these conversations at your will.
As you join a room, you’ll notice that some people have speaking privileges and others are simply there to listen. The smaller the room, the more likely it is to welcome speakers. For example, if you’ve joined a debate about dogs, you can raise your digital hand and the moderators will decide whether or not to grant speaking privileges. If they do, you can add your own opinions to the mix.
Due to the nature of this new platform, businesses and individuals are using it for several purposes. While some use it for industry events and conferences, others hold interviews, AMAs, debates, discussions, and more.
This app has been compared to Snapchat because all audio conversations are removed from the platform as soon as the moderator ends the conversation. The audio files are held by Clubhouse for a short period of time to ensure that no rooms violate the community guidelines and rules.
There’s a sense of intrigue around Clubhouse because people need an invitation to gain access to the app. Sadly, we can’t ignore that the company has already experienced problems with harmful content, which is something it will need to resolve as time goes on.
What does the future have in store for Clubhouse? This is an interesting question, and we’re going to explore the potential outcomes, current events, and industry changes.
Firstly, Clubhouse has been relatively slow to get the app onto the Android store. In January, Clubhouse revealed in a blog post that an Android version of the app would enter the store at some point. But it wasn’t until February that the company hired an Android software developer. Then, late in March, the co-founder of Clubhouse, Paul Davison, said that the app wouldn’t be available for another couple of months.
In the social media and technology niches, a couple of months is a very long time. And this leads to one of the biggest threats to Clubhouse’s success…
Did anyone really think that the social media industry would allow Clubhouse to enjoy this niche alone? In response, several of the technology giants have thrown their hat into the audio conversation ring including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Spotify, and others.
While Clubhouse is having trouble getting its Android app up and running for the public, Twitter has now opened up Twitter Spaces to Android users. As its own iteration of Clubhouse, Spaces brings Twitter users together and allows them to have audio conversions in real-time. According to Twitter, the whole platform will launch to the rest of the public in April.
Meanwhile, Facebook is another company that was never going to sit by while Clubhouse took advantage of this previously unoccupied market. Just this week, it announced Social Audio with live rooms, podcast integration, AI tools, and other benefits for content creators. In fact, one of the biggest and best features of this Facebook creation is that creators can monetize rooms. Suddenly, this makes it more attractive for businesses, marketers, and influencers.
Just in case this wasn’t enough, other companies have started investing in this niche including Reddit, Discord, and Spotify. Reddit has long been known as the front page of the internet, as it’s a place where different communities come together to discuss topics they love. In February 2021, Reddit had around 430 million monthly active users. These 430 million will almost certainly love the addition of voice conversation tools.
Likewise, Spotify and Discord are already audio-based platforms and a service similar to Clubhouse will only complement the offering.
At the moment, people are using Clubhouse because there’s not much else like it around. However, the company is only going to enjoy this sweet spot for a limited amount of time. Twitter has already launched Spaces for Android users, and it won’t be long before others follow. Therefore, one of the biggest questions that Clubhouse faces is the loyalty of its user base.
Most people likely have Clubhouse as well as Facebook, Reddit, and other social media apps on their devices. Why? Because Clubhouse serves a purpose not found anywhere else. As soon as this feature is available elsewhere, will users return to their old favorites, or will they stick with Clubhouse?
Furthermore, scaling has proven tricky for Clubhouse, and it represents wider problems for the platform. For one thing, discovery is becoming incredibly difficult as the platform grows and grows. As more users access the platform, it becomes more of a challenge for people to find rooms relevant to their experience. Already, users have started to see rooms in other languages and others that have no relevance to what they want.
As Android users join the platform, discovery is expected to get even more difficult. If we can’t find the content of friends, or content that we find valuable, we’re likely to click away. The more times this happens, the more likely we are to delete the app entirely.
Clubhouse has spoken openly about these challenges, and Davison revealed that the Activity Feed will undergo major changes in the coming weeks. This means it will add features to personalize the experience. Yet again, it comes down to the speed at which Clubhouse can introduce these features. If too slow, the user base will go back to Facebook, Discord, or another of the growing number of alternatives.
Elsewhere, we shouldn’t forget the troubles that Clubhouse has had with harmful content, hate speech, and cybercriminals. One copycat website spread BlackRock malware amongst unsuspecting victims, and, although no fault of its own, Clubhouse has seen its reputation tarnished as a result of these acts. Some people had login credentials taken from hundreds of online accounts - including from big platforms like Amazon and Facebook.
What will happen to Clubhouse? There are a few potential outcomes:
The Periscope Outcome - Although lots of early attention, Periscope soon suffered and failed, and many industry experts have drawn similarities between the two. In ten years, will we remember Clubhouse as the app that pointed bigger and better services towards a new niche? Will we remember the app as one that started positively before getting swamped by more reliable and experienced brands?
The TikTok Outcome - Meanwhile, some say that Clubhouse has attracted enough attention from big names that it won’t die away immediately. We mentioned the likes of Elon Musk and Oprah, and Clubhouse could follow in TikTok’s footsteps by attracting influencers in an attempt to keep the platform relevant.
If this is the chosen path, Clubhouse will need to open the platform up to everybody rather than keeping the exclusive features. While this worked at first, it won’t work when every other service has audio conversation tools. Removing exclusivity will improve reach while also attracting content creators.
The Ello Outcome - Not so long ago, the whole world was talking about Ello as a platform for professionals to communicate and share ideas. After the initial attention, Ello quickly faded away and only remained relevant for a couple of small niches, which could be the way that Clubhouse goes in the future.
The Clubhouse Outcome - Clubhouse doesn’t need to follow in the footsteps of services before it, and we might see Clubhouse forge its own way forward. Imagine a scene where celebrities remain involved in Clubhouse - as well as discussions, they also now hold masterclasses and other content for the public. Though it should drop the exclusivity, Clubhouse shouldn’t lose the exclusive appearances of real-world stars.
Whatever happens, Clubhouse has done something that not many before it have done - change the landscape of the social media industry and force millions in investment in real-time audio conversations!