In today’s world, people are always connected. They spend a lot of time online and there is no lack of platforms to provide virtual meetings to share ideas, thoughts and interactions with people from all over the world. It is also a great way to follow our favorite artists and topics that we enjoy the most!
There are options for every preference in the digital life, whether it’s long-standing ones like Facebook and Twitter, photo and video based like Snapchat and Instagram, instant messaging as WhatsApp and Telegram, professional apps like LinkedIn or video-sharing ones like TikTok and YouTube.
But now, the world is discovering a new one: Clubhouse! It’s an audio-based social media that creates a different perspective about the importance of conversations. Here you will discover everything you have to know about it. Keep reading!
- What is Clubhouse and how does it work?
Clubhouse was launched in April 2020 by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth in the United States and gained popularity in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a social media app that innovates all perspectives of sharing knowledge and expressing yourself in real-time, as the conversations are not saved and you won’t be able to play them back. This platform mimics real-life interactions but without the visual face-to-face part.
The company describes itself as a "new type of social project based on voice that allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people from several different places". The users share audio clips instead of text posts and pictures, similar to a live podcast-style conversation.
The new social audio service allows people to create live chat rooms and participate in it as a speaker or a listener. The app provides several options of subjects and clubs that the users can choose, when creating a profile, according to their personality and likes. It is a free-flowing service, the user can enter and leave different chats on distinct topics based on their wishes.
- Who can join it?
Unfortunately, not everyone can join it yet. So far, only people who have IOS devices have a free pass. But the creators plan to expand to the general public to keep promoting more conversations and interaction opportunities to more and more people in the future. In January 2021, the company announced that it would begin working on an Android version soon.
They are building communities slowly and preparing features that will help it handle larger numbers of people. According to them, this keeps the composition diverse and allows to adjust the product as it grows, and for that they are "working to make it available to the world as quickly as possible."
- How can you join?
As the app is in beta version testing, it is an only-invite service for now. To participate in this new world you need to be invited by someone who is already a member, which makes this app enter in a more exclusive category as the number of invites are limited. Every new member gains two invitations to send to their friends. If you are an iPhone user, though, you can also be put in a "waiting list" and reserve a username without an invitation. However, you’re still unable to access the app until you’re invited.
- How to use it?
The ClubHouse community is made up of thematic virtual rooms created by the users themselves. Each chat room has a capacity for up to five thousand participants so far. Inside them, conversations take place between the guests (speakers), while the interested users (listeners) can, at any time, click on the "raise your hand" option, on the hand icon in the bottom menu of the app to ask for the word. If the chat moderator (the creator of a room) accepts your request you will be able to join into the talk with the rest of the group, as the person who made the room is the one who bestows speaking privileges to participants.
This is an extremely relevant task for the fluency of the conference call, as the most fruitful debates have taken place when there is someone dedicated to articulating the speech space, connecting ideas and people with different perspectives to enrich the discussion. In this way, the room host plans who will be highlighted during a chat. Another function is the ‘’leave quietly’’ button, when you don’t want to be in a conversation anymore.
It is also possible to create an event through the platform, indicating a date and time to start a new chat and adding a description about it - you just have to tap on the calendar icon. When you create a room you have the options to open it to everyone or just to your closest friends. The recording of the meetings is prohibited: the idea of the app is to provide only live interactions with no content story to watch later.
- How to invite friends?
If you want to use your two invites to send it to a friend you must select the envelope icon in the menu on the top of the screen and then you can check how many invites are still available, followed by a list of your contacts. To invite one of them, just tap on the icon next to their names and a link to register will be sent to the contact via SMS. Also, you will get credit for the invite on their profile.
- Why was it created?
Rohan Seth and Paul Davison came up with the idea of creating a social app that aims to be ‘’more human’’ and driven by conversations, rather than posts. It is a social media that does not require the users to look at a screen, people can start cooking or just be lying in bed and at the same time get involved in a chat room about a topic that they enjoy. Also, as there’s no typing options, "all the intonation, inflection, and emotion accurately conveyed through voice allow you to pick up on nuance and form uniquely human connections with others."
ClubHouse wants users to explore different conversations and world views, and for that to happen, the platform helps to create a bridge to these interactions between different people.
- Why has it become so popular?
The app is currently available to a small group, the chance to connect with this exclusive network of entrepreneurs and celebrities sharing information and knowledge is one of its most alluring features. Users are taking the opportunity to connect with different inspiring people that they do not otherwise have access to, and because every user is able to join a room and have a real conversation with anyone, there is a sense of intimacy that you just don’t get on other platforms.
It grew significantly in popularity after Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, appeared on the app, by joining the Good Time club, to talk about Mars, memes, and becoming a multi planet species in January 2021. The famous personality Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, made an appearance as well in the ClubHouse chats. Other celebrities used the app, such as Oprah Winfrey, Jared Leto, Chris Rock, Drake and Ashton Kutcher. The app has also expanded to include popular podcast hosts and social-media stars, such as Lindsey Metselaar and Serena Kerrigan, who use the platform to host more private discussions with their followers.
The app became the primary space for celebrities exactly because of the nature of the service, as it offers a sense of security when creating a space for media personalities, where they can answer questions and reveal information that is too personal for a big audience. Until then, conversations are not archived and this helps them to not fear that everything they say will become headline news.
- Clubhouse in Brazil
In February of 2021, the new app attracted a large number of Chinese users, who joined the social network to discuss various topics, including politically sensitive moments, such as protests in Hong Kong and the political status of Taiwan. Sometime after this, the app was blocked in China. In that same month, Clubhouse became a trending topic in Brazil and a race for invitations began for the early adopters users. Performers, youtubers and TV stars like Any Gabrielly, Pyong Lee, Luciano Huck and Tata Werneck have already appeared on the platform.
The Brazilian chat rooms are already becoming frequent in the app, we will see more diversity and cultural exchanges to diversify the dialogues. But the great expectation is for the opening for Android devices, which represent a large part of the phones sold in the country.
Now, in pandemic times, Clubhouse can provide deeper interactions and options to spend time. It’s a way for the users to not feel totally disconnected and alone while we can’t have physical connections, as an audio-based app has a more personal feature than text messages on a screen. With voice there is often an ability to build more empathy, because the emotions and intonations behind a voice are noticeable.
People are using the app to create book clubs, present comedy shows, generate political discussions and share stories, backgrounds and also advice. Therefore, ClubHouse is a great social networking tool to exchange knowledge and share constructive conversations between industry professionals and celebrities for example. You get the chance to hear, and even participate in a small room with famous people.
If you are a more introverted person this platform is also for you! You can join a chat with a topic that you are interested in just as a listener, as you decide if you want to express something to the group or not. According to the company website, a camera-free environment is a ‘’very special medium’’, the users "don’t have to worry about eye contact, what they’re wearing or where they are", so they don’t feel the same pressure to be perfect in every engagement as they do on other social platforms.
The real-time answer is one of the most interesting features of ClubHouse, each person builds their contribution by what they bring into the chat in that moment, without the imagery characteristic. There is no way to produce content in advance and this identity built by authentic and personal speech brings another benefit: less likelihood of false profiles, which is so recurring on social networks.
This new app is not immune to complaints of harassment, hate speech and misinformation. All of this is banned and condemned in the Terms of Service and in the Community Guidelines, but the audio-based app has still struggles with policing it, this is one of the biggest problems about Clubhouse. Some people feel free to promote whatever they want through the audio and negatively affect the other with disrespectful comments. Besides taking advantage that the conversations are not recorded.
Now, in the app, the moderator can remove and mute this kind of person from the chat stage (speaking time) or from the room entirely and also block. However, at the beginning of the platform there were no guidelines and no comment section for the members to report violations or share information. So, websites such as Vanity Fair even have posted an article about this problem (on December 10th, 2020) reporting some unacceptable situations that happened.
The Company has spoken about these feedback and said that they are actively working on next steps to keep the platform safe for everyone. Now, in the community guideline, users can report an incident, suggestions or ask questions, by sending an email to the support and also read all the instructions to how to proceed when something happens.
- Improving with new changes
Recently, they added several tools to detect abuse, renamed the option to "Report for disrupting conversations" button and added the ability to deactivate a troll account directly from the app. If anyone intentionally disrupts your conversation they are permanently removed from Clubhouse. The new feature also allows the users to view who just left the stage and, in case it was someone being disruptive, they can quickly report the situation.
Another improving change is that, if you want a higher quality audio in order that others can understand better what you are talking about, you have the option to switch the quality. Example: When you are performing a song you change to high and if you are somewhere with bad service you switch it to low.
There are many singers, people playing guitar and hosting performances, so The Clubhouse Community added the "Music Mode" option, where the audio is optimized specifically for musical performances.
The community has also improved VoiceOver support, so you can use the native IOS screen reader to navigate through the app. If you want to create a more intimate room you have the "Social Mode" option, where only the people you know and trust will be allowed in the chat. Club founders can write their own rules, which are specific to their clubs, to share their community values.
- What comes next?
Since the launch of the platform, new people have been joining from Italy, Turkey, Nigeria, India, Austria, Switzerland and Australia. In early 2021, it ranked first among free apps on Apple’s App Store in Japan and a lot of German influencers and journalists joined as well. This broader audience contributes to the access to different voices from multiple ethnics, social and economic backgrounds in the same space.
The test phase of the app helps users and companies to have the opportunity to identify possibilities for future interactions. The suggestions and perceptions help the platform to improve together, with the users. In this way, they can constantly add new features to improve the product and to fix bugs.
Now, the app is only available for IOS devices. The perception of exclusivity around the access brought up the debate on inclusion and diversity. And what could be a weakness of the app, has turned into leaven for what the platform has most to offer: provide relevant conversations. The team of the app said it has already started development for opening to Android users and that accessibility for people with hearing impairments will also be incorporated.
Still, the service is a great experience for networking. The platform provides significant new opportunities for marketing and personal branding. In pandemic times, the app is a great way to create business conferences and events, rooms with executive teams, writers, editors and new product developers. They can give advice, tell about experiences and it is very interesting for those who are curious and want to know more about it.
If you are an Apple user and got curious about this app, ask for a friend to invite you in! It is a great experience to connect with different people around the world, using your voice in a closer way! If you don’t have an IOS device, but want to join, while the app is not open for all, prepare yourself to not miss anything! So, when the time comes, you will know everything about this new social media.
The article above was edited by Helena Cardoso.
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