What is Clubhouse? The Drop-In Audio Social Network
It’s not often that there’s a real frenzy around a new social media network, but Clubhouse created a real buzz when it arrived on the scene. So what makes this celebrity-backed social media app special? And what is an audio-only social network anyway?
Clubhouse is Exclusive
A part of Clubhouse’s frenzy is the fact that it’s exclusive. As of February 2021, Clubhouse is an invite-only app that exclusively works on iPhone. And still, it has garnered millions of users. In fact, some celebrities, like Tiffany Haddish, boast more than a million followers.
Clubhouse plans to open up registration to the public at a future date and has started development on an Andriod app. Both steps should help Clubhouse grow even larger and more popular.
Clubhouse Makes Group Audio Calls Public
Clubhouse lets you create different rooms where up to 5,000 users at a time can chat using their voice. There’s no support for video or text chat.
The person who creates the room can invite other members to become speakers or admins. Rooms can be both private or public. If the room is public, anyone can join using a link or from Clubhouse’s Explore page.
Once in a public room, you can listen in quietly—meaning your entrance isn’t announced to everyone in the room. By default, someone who joins the room can’t speak. But if you want to join the discussion, anyone in the audience can raise their hand, and admins of the room can choose to let you join the chat.
Once the admin approves, you will be added to the “Speakers” section. When you choose to speak, Clubhouse will visually indicate to everyone in the room that it’s you talking. When you’re done, you can choose to mute yourself.
When you’re ready to leave the room or close the app, you can without making it a big deal. There’s no notification when someone joins or leaves a room. The “Leave Quietly” button makes this room-to-room hopping quite seamless.
Clubhouse Rooms are Temporary
Once everyone leaves the room or the chat ends, the Clubhouse room also goes away. People can create and leave rooms as they please.
Something to note is that nothing in the room is recorded in the app. It’s very much like a radio talk show. If you weren’t listening to the discussion live, you missed what was said. Of course, this won’t stop users from recording using third-party apps or built-in screen recording tools.
It’s Like Zoom, with a Community Aspect
On the face of it, Clubhouse sounds eerily similar to Zoom or Google Meet conference call. You create a meeting (room), participants can join from anywhere, and they can raise their hands to speak.
Clubhouse takes this familiar approach and puts a community aspect to it. It is, after all, a social network.
So if you want, you can create your own clubs or groups to discuss technology, books, sports, or really anything you and others might enjoy. And as a Club owner, you can then add users and create rooms for different conversations.
Clubhouse Rooms Can Sometimes Feel Like Podcasts
There are many types of rooms in Clubhouse, but when you’re taking part in a room full of celebrities, it can kind of feel like a podcast. Or at least a light version of it. This is because most of the time you are essentially listening in on a phone call between two or three people.
The difference is here, the conversation is happening live using iPhone microphones, over a Wi-Fi or wireless network. There’s no fit and finish that you expect in a podcast.
But unlike a podcast, Clubhouse rooms are ephemeral by design. There’s no feed of past episodes you can listen to later. And that is what sets Clubhouse apart.
Clubhouse Is Evolving and Growing Fast
At the time of writing, Clubhouse is still in its early stages and it will keep evolving, especially after it’s open to the public. Many Clubhouse rooms are already hitting the platform’s 5,000 user limit during celebrity broadcasts.
If you can get an invite, this is a good time to try out Clubhouse. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s still at the place where you can make genuine connections with other members by hanging out in different rooms.
Signing up for and using Clubhouse today is like joining Facebook in 2006, or Instagram in 2011. Things will likely change over time, but at least you can say you were there from the beginning.