If you haven’t experienced Clubhouse yet, you probably should. As of January 2021, the new mobile application only available on the Apple App Store has hit a valuation of one billion US dollars. After taking a look at their Instagram with not a single post, as well as their Twitter page with about 100 posts, it’s clear that social media marketing is not the key to their success.
So how is it that this app that is still in Beta testing and invite only has created so much thunder? From my research through various articles along with my own personal experience, I’ve narrowed down to two main reasons why this app has become so successful: Elon Musk and Coronavrius.
Of course, everyone wants to know the magic of the world’s richest person. I think the fact that Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are both paying attention to this app is huge. As they should. Zuckerberg was able to make a splash with photos and comments, TikTok was able to engage their users through short videos, YouTube through long videos, Snapchat through short photos, and we’ve given audio over to musicians and podcasts through streaming services. No one has dabbled with the idea of social networking audio. It’s honestly genius.
And of course, during the time of coronavirus, why wouldn’t it take off? Students and co-workers are fully interacting with each other through Zoom and other live video services. It only makes sense that people should be able to communicate with others live without video. I mean, you don’t even have to change out of your sweatpants and sweatshirt! It’s wonderful because you can use the app in so many ways. You could think of it as a podcast, and many of the rooms do organize things that way — they only want a few speakers to be talking, and keep it open for others to listen. However, there are also many rooms that are very interactive, allowing the users who listen in to raise their hands and come onto the state where they can share any of their comments and experiences with others.
For the world of UX, and I’m sure for many other industries, this has made all the difference. It’s allowed people to continue networking with other users in their profession — something that Coronavirus hasn’t really allowed us to do. It has also given people a new opportunity to make a name for themselves on a new social media platform.
As a user, there are a lot of changes I’d like to see in both the UX of the app as well as the interaction capabilities. There are also many things I love. I really like how the rooms are organized. I like how they show a tiny avatar of each of the users in the room, and they start with the speakers and indicate who the moderators are as well as who’s mic is on indicating if they are speaking or not. I have run into a few issues with this however when getting into larger and more interactive rooms. In these cases, the moderator asks that whoever speaks first says who they are speaking and then asks for them to say when they are complete. I think that it would be great if Clubhouse could indicate who the speaker is by automatically highlighting their avatar, maybe by somehow circling their profile, or bringing them up to the front.
Additionally, I’d like to see more ways that users are able to engage without coming up on the stage. I think it would be great if users were able to send emoticons and have a comment box where they could write things in the chat. I do understand that there may be issues with spam in this case. One solution to this could be to not allow anyone to join the conversation. Moderators schedule their calls in advance many times, and maybe it would be beneficial for the user to sign up in advance and essentially RSVP to the meeting. Another benefit could be to make the process of getting onto the app a little more difficult — maybe asking for ID or confirming an identity with a photo. I’ve additionally joined rooms before that have recommended books or links, and it would be great if the app provided a way for moderators to share their links and resources without having to write it out in their profile.
Overall, I think this is an amazing app full of so much potential. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the founders come up with in the future, and am so thankful to be an early user to follow them on this journey!