What is clubhouse? How can designers and creatives use this audio-based app?

What is Clubhouse and What Can It Do For Your Career?

Okay, so you’ve probably heard about Clubhouse from friends and influencers and thought, “An audio chat app? What’s the big deal?” But just like with other social media platforms, Clubhouse offers some serious benefits in terms of networking. It’s looking like pretty much everyone—even big corporations—have joined this fast-growing audio hangout app. But does that mean you should? We’re here to help you decide if this the right social media app for you and your career. 

Back up...What is Clubhouse?

Marketed as a “Drop-in Audio Chat”, Clubhouse is an invite-only social media platform where members can create their own chat rooms, or Clubs, to discuss virtually anything with one another. Back in May of 2020, Clubhouse was created by Silicon Valley venture capitalists to be a private hangout during the pandemic. But it didn’t take long for invites to expand the app’s membership exponentially. Investors have put forth millions to ensure this app thrives and, seeing as how the app just hit over 2 million users last month, Clubhouse’s momentum is showing no signs of slowing. 


What’s the app actually like?

The interface is very bare-bones, which is both refreshing and intimidating when you first sign on. Refreshing because, unlike visual-based apps, you’re not inundated with news, videos, or sponsored ads. After completing your profile and selecting interests, you’re greeted with possible people to follow and a quiet list of clubs that are currently in session. Nice, right? The top navigation includes a search feature, an invite feature, a calendar of upcoming clubs (based on your interests), your activity and profile settings. Way down at the bottom of your screen is the explore button, getting you to venture out of your current calendar.

Once you enter a room, you’ll join the audience as a silent observer. Moderators and their guest speakers will be featured in the top half of the room, aka The Stage. You have options across the bottom to leave the room, quietly ping someone else in the room or raise your hand so the moderator can unmute your mic and let you have the floor to speak. 

On the flip side, with no one to walk you through the app, it’s easy to poke around a little and give up. But don’t give up too quickly. Clubhouse notifies your friends to host a “Welcome Club” to give you a tour. As a backup, there are daily clubs for newbies where moderators offer any advice on how to make Clubhouse work for you. 

TL;DR: The true functionality of this social media platform lies in the thoughtful moderators and speakers who want to get us all talking again. Clubhouse is the perfect opportunity to ditch Zoom, keep your room dirty, but still connect with people globally.


How are people using it?

Glad you asked, ’cause this is the fun part. Just because the app is audio-only doesn’t mean activities or topics are limited. This app is built for diversity of content. Musicians and DJs might be drawn to its “Music Mode” that allows for performance-level sound. Comedians might create clubs together to work out their material before a live audience. But for our purposes, let’s look into how people are using Clubhouse to network and build their careers. 

Creatives will be able to find their own niche clubs to help them both network with other creators and learn about any topic, from “How to break into the UX space” to “How to balance your work and life as a freelancer”. Anyone can start a room like this and you can listen in quietly or raise your hand to ask real-time career advice from professionals who’ve been around the block a few times. There are tons of ways to learn with real potential to make lasting connections.

Marketers will find that there are tons of marketing-focused clubs to join with speakers ranging from top CEOs to burgeoning strategists. You’ll find topics on social media strategy, diversity and inclusion, and trends and forecasting (to name a few). Better yet, you can apply to start your own marketing club, either for yourself or for your company, and build a following in a whole new way. Some brands will find it liberating to host their own live events complete with special guests and Q and A, anytime, with no venue required. Other brands might leverage the aspect of building trust, inviting and learning directly from customers on how their brand is touching real peoples’ lives.     

Recruiters will be able to tap into any room and listen to job-specific discussions (while potentially finding that creative unicorn right there, speaking their mind). You’ll benefit from hearing creatives and marketers describe their work-life loves and frustrations, while also having the opportunity to check in with fellow recruiters on how they’re getting it done. 

Everyone will probably love listening in on real people talking about real things while carrying on with daily activities—even if your favorite activity is living in your PJs. While it might feel similar to a podcast, there’s a refreshing element of hearing people speak candidly without the post-production edits. The self-help clubs are on-point, too, with rooms geared toward focus and daily advice on how to best deal with **gestures wildly** all this. 

Bottom line: Clubhouse is for discussion, learning, and sharing ideas in an open, honest way. Some might say it makes the perfect networking tool for those very reasons. 


Is it inclusive?

Creators of Clubhouse are continually addressing how to ensure the app remains as inclusive as possible. It seems like this is one reason Clubhouse is still in Beta mode—they want to continue to field questions, learn all they can, address systems of inequality in the social media space, and try to provide solutions. Already the app appears more promising than most with many rooms led by people of color and you’ll find conversations in many different languages as Clubhouse extends across the globe. However, there are still issues of not being completely inclusive. For those who require live captioning, that’s not a thing. Neither is text-resizing. The app does not support Apple iOS screen reader, either. Though Clubhouse seems to be doing a good job in terms of prioritizing diverse voices as club creators, we will have to see how the platform works to fix its crucial accessibility issues over the next few months.

What's privacy like?

There is a recording function, but moderators are supposed to notify participants when a session is being recorded—usually by adding it to the session’s title. Still, there’s no guarantee someone won’t record you, so that’s something to think about. Most people use their real names, real photos and real job descriptions on their profiles. Members can follow you, but the only way to connect is by chatting with one another in a room. No DM’s, just invites to chat that you can accept or decline. And rooms can be private or public, as set by the moderator. Maybe you just want to have a private chat with friends about whatever’s on your mind using your own tone and inflection. You don’t have to worry about typing conversations or that they’ll remain in the app forever. See? This app is for introverts, too!

Do I really need to join one more platform?

As always, that’s all up to you. If you’re the type who’s naturally drawn to podcasts and have maybe always wanted to start your own, Clubhouse is a great option for you because you don’t need the equipment. When we look at the history of how social media has developed and been monetized, it seems people want free apps (even better if they’re ad-free!) where they can connect quickly and build a following. Whereas podcasts and radio shows are previously recorded, Clubhouse is completely live, so content creation is ongoing and built by literally anyone who wants to contribute. Content is also continuously available and prioritized by your interest. It’s easy to find a topic you’re into, listen in, and raise your hand if you’ve got something to say. 

Ok, I’m sold! How do I get an invite?

For right now, the best way to get an invite is by asking your friends. They’ll just need your phone number and you’ll need an iPhone (though we hear they’ve started working on a version for Android). With millions already on the app, chances are high that several of your friends have unused invites they’ll be happy to extend. The whole point of the app is to connect with people and start some real conversations, so feel empowered to ask around. No luck on getting an invite? You can add yourself to the waitlist on their modest site

Want to skip it?

That’s cool, too. We’ve got lots of open positions for you to check out, no Clubhouse networking required.

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