What is Clubhouse? All You Need to Know About Clubhouse App – Halfway between podcasts and video conferences: the new social network Clubhouse promises to revive discussions on the Internet. The goal is to entice people to start talking again , instead of just typing. This innovative approach combined with the shrewd marketing strategy put in place allowed Clubhouse to cause a stir within a few weeks. In this article, we explain how this new smartphone application works and why you need to receive an invitation to start using it.
What is Clubhouse
Clubhouse is a free social network that users access from their smartphones using the appropriate app. If texts, images and videos are predominant on Facebook and Twitter, Clubhouse is instead an “audio-only app”, i.e. an app devoted exclusively to speech . Instead of deferred writing to each other, giving rise to the inevitable misunderstandings, the idea is to discuss verbally while other interested users listen. Clubhouse content ranges from engaging talks to lively discussions and business networking.
The app was designed by two Silicon Valley veterans: Paul Davison has already accumulated experience working at Pinterest and Rohan Seth has a past at Google. The two founded the company Alpha Exploration Co. , solely responsible for the development of the app. The first version of the app was released in early 2020 in the Apple AppStore. But if initially only people from the IT sector and investors had shown interest in Clubhouse, with the Covid-19 pandemic and the inevitable social distancing measures, the app has gained increasing popularity.
How the Clubhouse App works
The app has a minimalist structure compared to other social networks. The focus is on the rooms that users can open to have a space to discuss. The idea is that other users can in fact enter these rooms and listen to the speeches made there. If you want to join the discussion or simply ask a question, virtually raise your hand . In fact, moderators have the option of activating the interested party’s audio for the time necessary to intervene.
The roles within the rooms are three:
- Oratore (speaker): who converses and can be heard by the other participants.
- Moderator : who gives and revokes the right to speak and has the right to assign the role of moderator to other users as well.
- Listener/audience (listener): whoever listens to the discussion in silence, with the possibility of raising their hand and requesting the right to speak.
In the Clubhouse discussions take place in real time and not deferred as otherwise happens in many other virtual places on the Internet. The contents are therefore produced live and cannot be listened to later. To avoid missing interesting discussions, the Clubhouse provides a calendar function . The organizers of a discussion can thus create an appointment that interested users can mark on their calendar. This new app has several points in common with Twitch which, in addition to allowing live-streaming of game sessions, convinces fans thanks to the monologues of its streamers.
Being a social network, the list of friends could not be missing from the Clubhouse either . On the home screen, the app suggests potentially attractive rooms for the user based on the interests of their contacts. The concept is: what your friends like, you are interested too. Similar to Facebook and other social platforms , Clubhouse also uses an algorithm . However, choice after choice, you have the possibility to define your areas of interest and thus influence what appears on the main screen, or to navigate by thematic areas.
The reason for the fuss around the Clubhouse
The Clubhouse app remained unknown to most for several weeks, at least according to the number of users. Despite this, the founders had already secured substantial investments . In addition to ensuring the technical development of the application, this made it possible to adopt a very successful marketing strategy.
How did the app become popular? First, the app has attracted prominent people . Among the first registered users of Clubhouse were Oprah Winfrey and rapper Drake. But also in Italy, several well-known personalities were among the first to join the Clubhouse community. The singer Calcutta and the actor, presenter and commentator Luca Bizzarri are two of the first known faces, as well as journalists, radio speakers and artists of various kinds.
At the same time, however, the founders have decided to focus on exclusivity : in fact, to register with the Clubhouse you need to receive an invitation from an already registered user. Each new user in turn has the option of sending two invitations . Only when you start becoming active on the platform do you acquire the right to bring in more friends and acquaintances.
The hype around the Clubhouse comes from the clever construction of the so-called fear of being left out , also called FOMO (fear of missing out). The concern of not being able to immediately become a member of the community of the moment has inevitably created a high interest in the newborn social network. At the same time, the controlled growth also serves to avoid overloading the servers and staff of Alpha Exploration Co. Despite the media attention, the app is in fact still in the beta version .
How to get a Clubhouse invite
Do you want to join the Clubhouse? Then it will be clear to you by now that you need an invitation. But there is an alternative: you can join a waiting list . The latter option brings with it the advantage of being able to already secure the desired username. Once done, all that remains is to hope that a friend (who has your number saved in the contact list on his smartphone) is already registered in the Clubhouse and gives his consent to your registration. To do this, the user must not use one of the two invitations available to him.
However, receiving a direct invitation remains the best solution. But since each user has only two invitations , the probability of being one of the two chosen is relatively low.
For this reason there are those who have already thought of alternative solutions: in Germany a podcast has favored the systematic growth of the Clubhouse community. In fact, the two speakers of the podcast invited listeners to register in a Telegram group whose participants had the task of inviting each other. As often happens, then there are those who immediately tried to earn with this closed system. For example, trying to sell invitations to the platform for over $100.
The criticisms of Clubhouse
As Clubhouse breaks growth records and becomes increasingly popular, there is no shortage of criticism. It didn’t take long before privacy issues became apparent : registering for the app involves sharing your phone book. Otherwise, the invitation system on which the entire social network is based would not work. In doing so, the platform obtains data from third parties , without these having given their consent.
In this way Clubhouse could create “shadow profiles” of people who have never shown interest in the app. Furthermore, the data provisions by Clubhouse are not formulated in a clear enough way , contravening, according to some data protection officers, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Also debated is the issue of hate speech and fake news . The app gives the impression of a closed society, where debates take place behind closed doors. To this day, the developer company itself still does not police the content in any way . The responsibility of maintaining a civil tone during conversations lies exclusively with the moderators of the individual rooms, who are, however, simple users.
In the United States there have already been the first complaints about episodes of anti-Semitism, racism and sexism . The developers have reacted by starting to temporarily archive recordings that are checked in the event of reports. Users, on the other hand, are prohibited from recording conversations.
Clubhouse fills the gap between podcasts and social networks. If the right users are in the same room, they can spark compelling and fruitful conversations. What the various social media have failed to do so far, which have often been unable to carry on constructive, if not downright counterproductive, discussions. Only over time will it be shown whether Clubhouse is able to attract discussion groups in a lasting way, moving them away from Telegram and other alternatives to WhatsApp . But for this to happen some sensitive issues must first be resolved and the app made available to all users who want it.