If you have been around Facebook and other social media platforms, it’s almost certain that you have heard of Clubhouse. But what exactly is it and should you even be interested?At the core, this new social media app is doing something fairly new and fresh. No likes, no hearts, no comments, and no ads (yet). There isn’t even a way for you to share images or comments. Instead, this app is primarily based on conversation. Think of it as a live podcast with the ability to talk with speakers.
When you first login, you will choose from a list of interests and the app will then suggest rooms to you based on what you select. Once in a room, you will see three sections. At the top, you will see what is referred to as “The Stage”. This is where you will see the people that are leading the conversation as well as anyone they have brought up to ask questions or to participate in the conversation. Right below the stage is the “followed by speaker” section. Here you will see people in the room that are being followed by anyone that is on the stage (whether they are part of the conversation or just there to ask a question). The last section is “others in the room” and this is basically the general audience.
The way the app works is people will create a room with a topic of discussion. Most of the time a few people start the conversation, and as things progress, audience members will come up to the stage to participate. The way this happens is anyone in the audience can "raise their hand" to let the speaker know they have something to say.
The great thing about this app is that you have the ability to participate in real conversations with industry experts. People like Jonas Peterson, Peter Hurley, Jeremy Cowart, Ben Hartley, and so many more. There are also recurring conversations or themes so people have the ability to have long-running and relationship-building conversations. There are also rooms setup that are meant to be a general hang out. A place to have conversations as you work or as you sip on your coffee to start the day. These hangouts have also started to become a place for local people to have a group hangout while not being able to meet in person and also not having to rely on video conferences. You also have the ability to schedule rooms so that your followers can plan their schedules around making the chat if that's what they want to do.
Another cool thing is that you can see what room the people you follow are currently in. This is a great way to find new people to follow as well as a way to find conversations you may not have thought to look for. On the main screen of the app, you will also find a list of upcoming rooms that have been scheduled by people you follow so you will know what conversations are about to begin so you can decide which ones you want to take part in. Followers will also get a notification when people they follow start a room or schedule a room.
While the majority of what I’m speaking about is related to the photography industry, this app is definitely not limited to this. There are rooms for tech, real estate, investment, etc. You name it, and you can find a room for it or simply create a room yourself. Just the other day I was in a room with a group of sharks from the hit TV show Shark Tank. And even in a room with people of this caliber, you still had the ability to hop on stage and ask questions. And getting advice and insight from people like that, for free, is one of the amazing features of this app.
But, this app isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Like all social media, it has elements that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Because there is no barrier to entry for creating a room, this means that anyone can create a stage and sell themselves as an expert. So like everything on the internet, you need to know who you should be trusting and who you should be taking with a grain of salt.
The other issue is that the app is currently in beta. Which means there is limited access. Currently, only iPhone and iPad users have an app, and even then you can only get access by getting a direct invite from someone already on the app. For me, this seems more of a way to build suspense and get people talking rather than actually needing a ton of work to be done on the app, but I don’t know that for certain. Although one thing I do like about this process is that the invites come directly to a cell phone number. This means that it will be harder for users to create spam accounts. Likewise, users are required to be displayed as their real names instead of things like their studio name.
The only other issue I have, and this can be taken as a good and a bad thing is there is no way to link to content outside of the approved social links. For example, in my bio, I can link to my Twitter and Instagram accounts, but I can't link to my website. There is also no way to leave “comments” while in a room or to share links from a room. This means no way for people to push affiliate links and try to sell you. This is good, but it also feels limiting when having conversations that beg for a visual explanation or a way to share a link to something that people actually want access to. This means you have to direct people to other areas to access things. What this has looked like so far is simply sending people to your Instagram account to access the “link in bio” feature. So while I like that they are limiting the app to a vocal conversation, I would like to have the ability to link to content that is relevant to the conversation. Especially in terms of talking about photography.
The last jab I’ll take at this new app is that there is no way to save your conversations. No rewinding and no relistening. It's actually against community guidelines to record or even transcribe conversations that take place in the app. Now I will say that I love and hate this part. On one hand, I love that the conversations feel more genuine rather than the rehearsed jargon you can tend to hear with things that are being recorded and saved forever. But on the other hand, if you have a particularly noteworthy conversation worth holding onto, there is no way for you to do that. It also makes it so users must catch topics of interest live and in-person or forever miss out. This plays on peoples FOMO (fear of missing out), which is good for the app, and bad for the people that feel they need to be always connected in order to be part of the next best conversation.
So in conclusion, I don't know the answer to my own question. But I do think this app has a lot going for it. It’s a social media app that is doing something completely different. But I also see it as the next big idea to be stolen from the Facebook conglomerate like it has done with countless other social media apps trying to break into the space. But for now, it's a great place to connect with like-minded people and actually learn things that can help you as a creative, business owner, and person.