Have you received an invitation and joined Clubhouse? It’s the (currently in private Beta) invitation only Audio only platform taking the world by storm.
Important to note: Currently Clubhouse is only available on the Apple Store for iPhone users. Android is coming.
The app is for adults (18 and above) due to data collection regulations and as discussions may potentially include crude humor and adult concepts depending on the group.
(From the privacy statement : Our Service is not directed to individuals who are under the age of 18. Company does not knowingly collect Personal Data from individuals under the age of 18. If you have reason to believe that an individual under the age of 18 has provided Personal Data to Company through the Service please contact us and we will endeavour to delete that information from our databases.)
Note: This article is based on my personal experience over the past few weeks on the app. Features and updates are constantly being added which may alter the information included here at the time of writing.
What is Clubhouse:
How to explain? It’s like listening to a LIVE podcast, except that you can ask to join in. Or you can host your own “room” or even create a club.
It’s also kind of like having a conference phone call, or being part of talkback radio. It’s different, yet it’s familiar!
Clubhouse is about communication and communicating in Real Time – so it’s live, in person (and you don’t need to be camera ready because it’s voice only).
Founded by Paul Davison & Rowan Seth (both entrepreneurs with impressive histories) with an aim to foster “meaningful conversations and human connections”.
Be warned, once you go in, it’s really hard to leave!
These are the guiding principles from the Clubhouse community guidelines:
- Be yourself. The authenticity of Clubhouse begins with the people.
- Be respectful. This applies to every person, at all times.
- Be inclusive. Tolerate, welcome, and consider diverse people and perspectives.
- Build empathy and understanding. Engage in debates that are in good faith.
- Foster meaningful and genuine connections. This is what Clubhouse is all about.
Who is it for?
Pretty much everyone (over 17) with the focus on quality conversations. There is no private messaging ( you need to follow up folk by following on Twitter or Instagram and you can message there). Everything is done within a Room.
As Clubhouse evolves I’m seeing it as a wonderful opportunity for people to not only learn and evolve, but to grow their own authority. How brilliant to be able to listen and develop deeper understanding of the problems that need to be solved (and therefore better develop products and services) and to build community.
Eventually I think those with existing communities will be able to offer a newer way to connect. There are plenty of opportunities to be innovative, perhaps adding a community stream to an event. It’s also another way to find people for guests for your own livestreams and podcasts.
Why I’m loving it
Firstly, it’s a great equalizer. When it’s audio there is less bias and prejudice.
Secondly, like many I was suffering “zoom fatigue” and the time is ripe for a new player in the social media scene.. With so much of my work having to move from in person connection or in person events, I was missing the engagement that comes with the networking at such events.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the ability to connect with a wider audience through video is something that has kept our world together, and certainly Clubhouse won’t be replacing the need (and it’s not a visual training tool ) but it adds a further layer, and new opportunities for personal and business development.
When I first joined around 10 December I was unsure about a few things. Giving up personal information is something I am always cautious about, especially access to contacts (and I’m still not that thrilled with that aspect – you can turn it off, but then you can’t invite anyone).
Then, I was a little frustrated with finding “rooms” that were quality or topics that I was interested in (now there is a search option so that’s soooo much better) and missing out on content because my time zone was different.
For me, the smaller more intimate Rooms are better as there is more chance of being able to join in and to really get to know people. There are rooms with hundreds of attendees and they can be a bit overwhelming (but often the content is mastermind level so you find yourself taking copious notes).
Now I’m totally in love with Clubhouse. I love that the focus is not on produced content but on quality conversations. The ability to learn from others is massive, but not learning in the traditional sense. This is not listening to a seminar or a panel, but an engaged and vibrant community willing to exchange knowledge.
Those on the app early are benefiting from some intense and deep discussions where business growth strategies, new tech and everything in between are taking place (sometimes for hours). Incredible knowledge bombs are being dropped and shared by some pretty amazing investors and high rollers!
Building relationships, expanding and making new connections, with a broad range of people. This to me is one of the most outstanding features.
A huge plus is that you can listen while you are doing other things, just like a podcast, but then you can stop and “put up your hand” and ask to be included in a discussion, so it’s not a one way street. I found this works best in smaller rooms, although there were some large groups going literally for almost a full day who brought in speakers on a rotating basis.
You can leave a Room easily if it’s not a conversation that interests you.
I love that it can be two – way, actually engaging in real time is refreshing.
Another feature I do like is the ! symbol which is used to indicate if a member has been blocked by multiple people. According to Clubhouse “People use blocking for many different reasons on Clubhouse—so it might just mean this person has strong opinions, opposing views to the people you follow, or a personal history with someone you know” .
The founders also run a weekly “Townhall” to let users know about the latest updates.
What’s not so hot?
Clubhouse is currently in Beta, so I’m very aware that it will be evolving all the time.
For me the main drawback is that if you are not available at the time, there is NO recording. You can’t go back or rewind to listen to what you missed. On the other hand, you could say this isn’t really a drawback as it means those who are in a “room” are fully engaged and committed, but it can be a frustration.
Also be prepared at least initially to be drawn like a moth to a flame. It can be a massive time suck, so make sure you have a few hours free to explore. And keep a notebook handy. You cannot record the content (or you will find yourself removed from the app).
There are some Rooms filled with people who are on the self-promotional trail and focused on the sell, so choose your rooms and don’t be afraid to leave if you don’t agree with the content. There have been thankfully only a few groups which have had some disrespectful or racist or discriminatory comments, however Moderators can easily remove detractors and it’s also a simple process to report. (Content is kept while a room is “live” only for the purpose of reviewing any user reports and then it is deleted). I read a couple of reports where Moderators did not challenge remarks, but that really leads into the importance of having good moderators and understanding how to moderate (see the section on Moderation below).
When it comes to business chats, there is certainly currently a gap for more conversations suited to small businesses vs 7 figure turnover and high end strategic discussions.
How do I join?
The recommended way is to download the app from the Apple store and reserve your user name. Sticking to your personal name is best (you must sign up with your real name, but there is an option for a nickname). You can only change your username once, so choose wisely. Make it easy for people to find you. Then wait for an invitation (or for the app to open up from Beta).
You can only have one profile and it must be in your actual name, not your business.
At the moment invitations are still fairly limited. When you join you are generally issued with one invitation. You can gain more as you host or moderate rooms.
Choose wisely when inviting others and make sure you know and trust the person you invite. Should someone you invite breach regulations it may reflect on your standing also.
Once you get an invitation, Set up your Bio.
The first three lines of your bio are seen in preview when someone looks at your profile in a room, so make you use works that let people know how you can help them. They are also searchable terms but use keywords strategically, but don’t go overboard with keyword stuffing.
Draft your Bio in your iPhone notes and add emojis and formatting, then cut and paste it to your bio.
Add a clear image of yourself. It can help to stand out if you use a bright background.
Add your twitter and/or Instagram handles.
New: Choose your topics/interests.
Click on the search icon to bring these up. This can help you find Clubs and people who have shared interests. These are expanding over time.
Hallway: The main feed is known as the Hallway. At the top will be listed any Clubs/scheduled rooms you have joined. The remainder of the hallway is where you will see Rooms that are active.
Search icon: At the top left of the screen is the search feature. You can search for people and clubs, or you can choose a topic to find conversations.
Envelope Icon: At the top of the screen above the main feed the envelope will let you know what invitations you have available and your contacts so you can allocate them.
Calendar icon: This will show you what is coming up based on those topics you have selected. If you click the dropdown arrow “Upcoming for you” you can choose if you see all upcoming, upcoming for you or your own events.
Bell icon: This shows invitations to Clubs and other notifications. This includes when people “ping” you to invite you into a room, and a list of anyone who has followed you and allows you to select interests to help improve your feed.
Swipe left from Hallway: to see a list of Active Clubs you’ve joined and any connections who are available to chat.
- Read the community guidelines.
- When you are invited in a room to join the speakers, your microphone by default is on, so quickly turn it off until you are asked to speak.
- Keep your mic off whilst others are speaking
- Be mindful of any room guidelines when you speak, and be mindful of how long you are speaking for.
- Don’t pitch (unless specifically invited to), it’s about having conversations and sharing insights and knowledge.
- At the moment as there is no option for applause, use your microphone and flash it off and on quickly to indicate appreciation or support.
- If you don’t have anything to add to a conversation, you can remove yourself back to the audience and allow others to step up.
- To leave a room you can use the button “leave quietly” which lets you exit anytime.
- If you want to invite a connection to a room that you feel would be of interest to them, or you feel they could add value, you can “ping” them by pressing the + sign.
- If you would like to speak and you are not on the stage, you can click on the raise hand 🖐🏼 which lets the moderators know you are interested in joining in. They may then send you a message at the top of the screen asking if you would like to join in.
- If you receive an invitation to join the stage, but you are not ready to, it is fine to decline.
- It is considered good etiquette to follow the speakers in a Room. You can also click on their profiles and follow their Twitter and/or Instagram. This can enable you to follow up with them via direct message (DM) as there is no messaging on the app.
- While you are in a room, check people out, follow those who interest you or share interests.
- The community guidelines outline how to report an incident or a user.
- You can follow, unfollow or block users
Starting & Moderating a Room
- You can start a room on the spot, or schedule an Event.
- Choose if you want your room Open to anyone, Social (open to your followers) or Closed (direct invitation only – great for team catch ups!)
- Think carefully about the topic and make sure that you make it clear what the Room is about. You can’t change it once you set it up!
- As soon as you open the room you will be noted as a moderator (with a green symbol alongside your profile).
- It’s good practice to invite one or two others to moderate with you. Choose carefully as they will have the ability to add and remove speakers as well as close the room. Having additional moderators helps you, especially if the room gets busy as they can promote speakers, or mute people when required. It is also beneficial as if you get interrupted or need a break, you don’t need to close the room.
- A room is set up in three tiers. The main “stage” for Moderators and Speakers, a “front row” where anyone followed by any of the speakers or moderators appear and the third tier is the Audience.
- There is movement within tiers. The longer a person is in a tier, they will ‘move up’ the room. If they leave they go back to the end of the tier.
- Should the speaker or moderator a person is connected to leave the room, they will drop out of the “front row” and back to the audience.
- It is good practice to acknowledge new people as they enter the room. If the room is small you can greet by name and if desired invite them straight up to the stage. If you have a large audience you can just do a general welcome to people joining.
- Before you invite someone to speak, if you don’t know them, take a look at their bio
- Be prepared to keep the conversation to the topic of your Room. Don’t be afraid to stop someone speaking if they go off topic. You can easily mute them. The best moderates actively moderate, encouraging and support speakers, especially if they are more reserved, with questions to the group and to share knowledge.
- Be thoughtful when invite speakers and include a diverse range of people and perspectives.
- Encourage participation, take questions if appropriate
- Remember you are in charge as moderator. If someone is disruptive, you can eject them from the room, you can move speakers around, return them to the audience and invite new speakers in.
What is a club?
A club is a way to gather a group of like minded people around a specific topic or interest. You can attach up to three topics to your club.
Currently there is a waiting period to be approved for Clubs and priority given to those running a regular Room for at least 3 weeks.
The fine print:
Be aware that the app does collect and link quite a bit of data and make sure to read the Clubhouse privacy statement
Data includes: Contact Information, identifiers, your contacts (this is how you are able to invite others when you are given invitations), User Content and usage data.
You can remove access to your contacts, but this is done via your iPhone [go to your iPhone settings (not the app settings), tap “privacy,” then “contacts,” and toggle off access for Clubhouse]
Got other questions? Check out Clubhouse’s Knowledge Centre.
Here you can find out how to start a Club, learn more about using the App, submit feature requests and more.
Are you a member of Clubhouse? You are welcome connect with me. You can find me on the app under @filucas.
I’d love to know what your thoughts are, please share with me.
Anita Wong says
This is great Fiona. A really comprehensive overview. Sharing with my network right now.
Fiona Lucas says
Thanks Anita. So glad you found value. You will find me on Clubhouse @socialmediafi and on instagram @irespectonline.