Clubhouse: the app of the moment?

13 March 2021

If you didn’t know Clubhouse seems the app of the moment. It launched in April 2020 and it is currently the most downloaded app in many countries. It seems that it is overtaking TikTok and it will become the “next big social network”. 

I could blame the Scarcity Effect (cognitive bias that makes us place a higher value on something that is scarce, limited) but I had to get an invite and see first-hand what the hype was about. 

Clubhouse works like a podcast, users can listen in to conversations, interviews and discussions between people on various topics. There are no pictures or videos, only profile pics for each user. This design can mean that you are intuitively placing more value on what someone says than their looks. Oh! If this was only true for the human brain. Once you join, you select the topics of interests and then the app will recommend you certain conversations, rooms and individuals.   

From what I have seen, the strength of the app is its exclusivity. It is only available on IOS and it is on invite only. Again, our friend scarcity combined with loss aversion (FOMO) meddles with our minds here. Moreover, existing users only have two invites available.  So be prepared, you’ll have to make a choice among your friends. 

Clubhouse could become a useful tool for brands. It could become the perfect space for focus groups, co-creation or just to answer more directly consumers’ questions. 

It could also be useful to build a stronger community. In fact, as shown by multiple researches, consumers’ willingness to be part of a brand community can result from the positive delivery of intimacy. This can lead to a sense of belongingness, making customers feel more of a part of a brand’s unique world. Belongingness and intimacy are key pillars of brand relationships, being even more crucial with the new pandemic-infused consumer mindset. Therefore, the intimacy created by Clubhouse can prove useful for brands, but they need to be careful to ensure that they are also willing to show intimacy and transparency, as it is not a one way stream. Q&A with the founder or creative director will be a perfect way to start. Give before you ask is the rule of the game in intimacy.

So…It’s all great hype from the outside but once I got there, I started thinking: will this actually last? People are now longing for intimate relationships or just for a little bit of excitement in their lives. Clubhouse can give you that. You can listen to your favourite singer talking about their daily life as you were his friend, and it excites you to know that you are one of the few that can do that. But in the long run, once we will all be able to meet and socialise in the old normal way, I’m not quite sure that Clubhouse will appeal so much. People are longing for intimate relationships but a big part of it is physical contact, which is absolutely necessary to human wellbeing. Once we will be able to socialise normally, I believe that people will choose physical intimacy over the electronic one, or at least the blend between real life intimacy and that provided by Clubhouse will be more in favour of physical realm. 

In addition to this, we must remind that Clubhouse has been found lacking in some basic privacy and security protections and as safety is now the number one concern for everybody (not just safety from virus but the overall sense of safety crucial for human wellbeing), will people be as excited to be as intimate on the platform? I have my concerns. 

Anyway, I might be a little bit biased because I’m looking forward to going back to the old normal life. So…What do you think? Will Clubhouse become the next big social network?