I recently joined the app, Clubhouse. Instantly, I could see the appeal. It’s like the year 2000 all over again, but instead of chat rooms filled with faceless people typing away, you enter audio chat rooms filled with like-minded individuals. So, let’s find out if Clubhouse is the right app for you and your brand?
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a social media app that allows users to enter into virtual audio chat rooms. Hosts (could be you) set up discussions with specific topics. You enter the discussion and choose whether to listen or participate in the conversation. You build a following by participating in discussions and/or by hosting them.
The app is in the beta phase, and parts of it show for sure, especially when it craps out and tells you to try to reconnect in a bit. For those unfamiliar, you have to be invited to join, which makes you feel, well, special. I believe this is more so due to the pandemic and the lack of human interaction any of us have really had, at least the responsible folks. You can also go to their website or download the app to reserve a username here.
The audio rooms are topic centric and you can come and go (leave quietly) as you please. As previously mentioned, you can host your own discussions, you can be a fly on the wall in others’, or be an active participant. It’s all up to you. I do enjoy the app and feel it is going to be a breakout that will be fun for some time.
A warning however: vet each discussion and host before following them and signing up for notifications.
Last night I found myself getting pinged by a friend to enter a discussion about mindfulness and meditation. Sounded like fun, or so I thought. I entered the room and sat in as an observer first before accepting the request to be an active participant. It was interesting to hear what some people had to say, but mostly it was a regurgitation of, “the Secret” and Oprah’s book club.
The Jen Sincero’s of the room recited what they had remembered from these works (without credit to the originators) and tried to pass them off as their own thoughts. People would cheer and clap and say things like, “Wow!” “You are fire!” “You set this room ablaze!” “I am grateful for you.”
Perhaps I am jaded because the self-help industry, of which I have been a part of for the last 25+ years is so saturated with phonies and snake oil salesmen and saleswomen, but I found little joy in the way I had hoped in that room. The host tried to awe people with statements of self-love that were trite more than anything useful. He then went on to talk about not having to build your following through the app while then asking people to actively follow him.
When one woman spoke up about her thoughts about what it means to be mindful, she explained that for her it meant being available any time of day or night for the people in your life whether you know them well or not. “Let people use you! That’s what being present means.” she exclaimed with questionable confidence, looking for reinforcement she didn’t receive. She was thanked for her vulnerability by the host, which was a sham because that’s not vulnerability, rather, a desperate, albeit passive aggressive attempt to ask for help from people who are not qualified to offer the professional help she really needs.
A man from Jamaica talked about how grateful he was to be in the room with such amazing souls, inspiring everyone to clap. He then went on to sing a song about smoking weed all day that was hard to comprehend and painful on the ears. Upon finishing the song, he then asked everyone to go to his youtube channel to “like” his video.
An Army veteran spoke up about pre-judging people and his experiences doing so on his tours in Iraq. He was the only sincere person in the room to contribute anything of value. Oddly enough, everyone was quiet when he finished speaking. I believe his stories humbled everyone and brought them out of their questionable state of connected surface level commentaries. I broke the silence, thanking him for his service and his contribution. The host then scrambled to take control of the discussion, of which I finally had enough.
Why did I stick around that room for so long you might ask? As much as I would like to admit the comedy of it all, I was really interested to know if what I was hearing was real. Sadly, it was. I’m certainly not opposed to doing what works for you, and in that room, many things may have worked in the moment for many people, just not for me. Contrived positivity and encouragement should be canceled because it serves no one.
Despite my experience in that one room, I will continue to use the app to find and create spaces that are much more meaningful and offer real value to everyone participating. I found many friends and professionals I admire to follow and support along their journeys.
Does this app have a lot to offer? Solid Yes!
Will it be the next big social media craze? Probably more like an in-between of Pinterest and Twitter. It will ride high, then taper off, but still hang around for some time.
The more polished this app gets, the better it will be for its user base.
Overall, I recommend this app, and see the growth potential. Enjoyable as it may seem, however, there is a lot of snake oil and desperation out there, so be mindful before subscribing to people. Some rooms are just a free for all with no clear agenda and people talking over one another. My main suggestion to you is to vet the rooms and hosts before deciding to follow and sign up for notifications of their future discussions. If/when you join the app, make sure you are adding value as a host and participant, not just adding to the noise.