Clubhouse: the invite-only social network taking social media by storm

Clubhouse might still be in beta, but it is already being touted as the next big thing in social media. After wooing Silicon Valley, the iOS-only app is exploding.

Essentially, the app is a combination of a podcast network, a virtual event space, and a live chat room, but with the energy, immediacy, and interactivity of an offline meeting. Sounds chaotic? Well, it is…sort of. But it is thriving in this chaos — and early users are lapping it up.  “When you open the app, you can see ‘rooms’ full of people talking — all open so you can hop in and out, exploring different conversations. You enter each room as an audience member, but if you want to talk, you just raise your hand, and the speakers can choose to invite you up,” Clubhouse explains on its site.

The rooms are categorised according to subjects and areas of interest. You can choose your interests to personalise the Clubhouse experience. Topics include health, wellness, life, faith, arts, culture, sports, entertainment, world affairs, knowledge, tech products, languages, places, identity, startup hustle, sales events, finance and cryptocurrency, live performances, and so on.  Hit the ‘explore’ icon on the homepage to find people and clubs to follow. Clubhouse alerts you whenever a session of your interest is about to go live. You can track upcoming rooms through the calendar icon on the homepage.  Users can also create new events by adding the name of topic, co-host or guest, date, time, host club, and a 200-character description. These are scheduled events or activities, and invites can be shared with all users.

The exclusivity of Clubhouse and the mass FOMO it has triggered in netizens all over the world over make the app all the more appealing and aspirational.

Vanity Fair recently dubbed it the “playground for the elite”.

And the elite desperately want a Clubhouse membership — the new badge of honour and social cred. Entrepreneurs, celebrities, social media junkies and investors scrambled for invites, bragged when they got one, raved about the “incredible” platform, live-tweeted or posted elaborate threads for the lesser mortals who missed out. 

Our verdict?

Impressive, but not perfect. There’s no denying that Clubhouse is worth making a noise about. It’s fresh, engaging, informative, and offers something different from other mainstream social media platforms.  If the 2000s were about text-based social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter) and the 2010s were about visual and video apps (Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok), then the 2020s could well be the era of voice-based social networks.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Clubhouse is the harbinger of a new social media wave. But the perils of using a niche, uncontrolled beta app are manifold. Clubhouse has already been criticised for failing to moderate hate speech, especially against BAME and LGBTQIA+ communities, which could ultimately prove its undoing. 

Despite the shortcomings, Clubhouse is a disruptor in the global social media landscape. Time will tell whether this particular platform will permanently change the terrain, but it has already reserved its place in history for innovation alone.