There’s a new-ish social media app called Clubhouse. It’s still in its beta form and is currently only available to iPhone users, and only by invitation. You can find me there @aardvarkgirl. If you’re not on it, don’t tune out yet. You may have heard all the hype and wonder what it’s all about. You may have seen posts on other social platforms with people asking, sometimes even begging for an invitation. You may be asking uh, what is Clubhouse?
It’s not like me to get excited about another app. I haven’t made it a secret that I’m not the best at social media. I’m not consistent with posting because I don’t love it and often don’t feel like I have much to say or share. Ironic coming from a podcaster who’s talking every week, right? But I am finding a ton of value in Clubhouse. And because it seems to be such a hot topic, I wanted to chat with you about it.
Clubhouse is an audio-based social media app. There are no visuals except for your profile picture. There aren’t any DMs. Nothing is recorded (at least it’s not supposed to be). It’s all real-time conversations. Think about the old school chat rooms back in the 90s when the Internet was gaining in popularity. It’s like that but with voice instead of text. So for me, it eliminates a lot of those things I don’t love about social media, like the need to constantly create content if you want to stay relevant.
My friend Tiffany introduced me to Clubhouse in December of 2020, about 8 months after it was formed. I hadn’t heard about it yet but after doing a little research I was really curious to check it out. Fortunately, we were both able to get invitations that night so I could start exploring. As a podcaster, the idea of having actual discussions about topics was appealing. Especially when factoring in that I wouldn’t have to spend any time trying to create an appealing graphic or photo or video. I could just show up and offer my input where it was needed.
When you join, you can create rooms based on topics you want to discuss, or join other people’s rooms. You can silently listen in or you can raise your hand if you want to go “on stage” and speak. The moderators accept you and keep everyone organized, if they’re doing it right, so no one is talking over each other. Beyond that, there aren’t really any rules as far as how long a room will be open, what topics are available, or anything else. You can find all kinds of themes and moderation styles. There are rooms that last a few minutes and some will continue all day, overnight, and keep going into the next day. If you consistently host rooms, eventually you’ll be given the ability to start a club. Then people can follow your club and you can invite them to join and you can build up a whole new network that way.
People are offering so much value in these rooms. Yes, some people are pushing their own brand and products and looking for sales. You’ll never be able to get away from that. But so many people will jump in and just want to help or offer their own input and advice from their experiences. The app started with celebrities, and many of them are still in there actively participating in conversations. Not just actors, but also entrepreneurs and experts in so many areas of business. Do you want some marketing advice from Grant Cardone? He’s on there pretty much every day. Do you have a question for Tiffany Haddish? She’s there, too, offering her raw and unfiltered perspective. I got to have a discussion with Justine Bateman about the documentary I produced. These are conversations that aren’t possible elsewhere.
Of course, as an introvert, it can be a little intimidating talking to strangers. Didn’t our parents teach us not to do that anyway? I don’t particularly care for talking on the phone, and that’s essentially what this is. But it’s a more natural way of engagement because there are multiple participants. I love doing this podcast, but it’s very one-sided. It’s just me talking. Or my guest if I have one. But other than the personal messages I receive, which I appreciate very much, I don’t really get that interpersonal feedback. The other side of the conversation never really happens. So I’ve enjoyed getting involved and collaborating with others. I do tend to stick to rooms with smaller audiences, but I’ve also listened in to a room that had over 2000 people in it because Gary Vaynerchuk was hosting. Apparently he’s pretty popular!
Like with all social media, it kind of is what you make of it. There are going to be people who don’t align with what you’re looking to do. You might not like the advice some are giving. You might disagree with their point of view. Some will be constantly trying to sell and promote their own agenda without offering anything in return. Some are going to try to implement rules like you have to follow the moderators in order to speak, or you have to invite x amount of people to join their club. Your call. I just don’t participate in those. They’re allowed to do whatever they want, but you can choose where and how you want to engage.
There’s this whole sense of FOMO… the fear of missing out… that’s making people obsess about getting into Clubhouse. People are actually selling invitations online, trying to capitalize on the desperation of people who want to get in. And then being on it all the time because there is no saving this chat for later. You either hear it live or it’s gone. But that doesn’t bother me. I’m not spending hours a day on it, so I know I’m “missing” a ton. But that’s fine. When I have time to be on, it’ll be a surprise what I will find at any given moment.
The most unfortunate mistake I’m seeing… and yes, I call it a mistake because it’s not how the app is intended to be used. But again, every user can choose how to use it. But the mistake is that they are treating it like all other platforms, thinking the most important thing is to get followers. But that’s not how it’s meant to work. You get access to rooms based on who you follow, so you should be strategic about it. Follow people in your industry or in your target customer base, or with whom you just want to connect. Follow people who share your interests, whether they’re related to your business, your hobbies, or just topics you like to discuss. If you follow a bunch of random people just trying to get them to follow you back and get your count up, you’re going to see a bunch of random stuff you don’t care about. And that can take away from what you do care about.
For a while, I was seeing a bunch of silent “follow for follow rooms” where the idea was that people would just go in there throughout the day and follow everyone who was in there. It made me cringe. So any time I saw someone I followed in one of those rooms, I unfollowed them. Now, fortunately, I don’t see them anymore. I’m pretty much like this everywhere, but Clubhouse is definitely a place where I’d rather have a small group of intentional followers than a whole bunch of people who don’t actually care about what I have to say.
For anyone wondering what the point is, I guess for me it’s about genuine engagements with people I wouldn’t be in touch with otherwise. Not just celebrities and other high-profile people, but those whose paths I might not cross on other platforms. I’ve only participated in a few rooms at this point, because I’ve only had little spurts of time to dedicate to it. Most of them have been film or podcast-related. I didn’t pitch myself or ask anyone to listen to my podcast in any of those. I just offered advice when it was asked or offered any commentary I thought would be helpful. In one week, my podcast downloads were up over 60% and I didn’t do anything else differently. The Women in Film club asked me to co-host a room about dispelling the idea that artists have to struggle financially. I connected with others in the industry who I didn’t know before that.
People hear you talk, they get curious, and they check out your Clubhouse profile. The profile can be linked to your Instagram and Twitter accounts, so people can also connect with you in other places.
I would love to hear your input about Clubhouse. If you’re on it, what do you think about it? What value have you gotten? Or what frustrations have you had? Do you think it lives up to the hype or do you think it will fizzle out quickly? If you’re not on it, do you want to be? Or do you want nothing to do with it? Let me know! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on social @aardvarkgirl. If you’re on Clubhouse, find me there! Let’s start a room and chat about something fun. If you’re not and want to be, let me know. If I have any invitations available, maybe I can help! Either way, let me know what you think. This app seems to be a hot topic and I’m curious to see where it’ll go.