Everyone loves to be heard – and in the case of the audio chat app, Clubhouse, it’s the promise of literally being heard by people all around the world. Is it any wonder it’s created all the buzz it has in such a short time? For the uninitiated, Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio chat app, currently available exclusively on iOS. With different ‘rooms’ you can walk in to, you can listen in on people’s live conversations on a variety of topics. Anyone can start/host conversations – subject matter experts, celebrities, influencers, everyday people. You can be either an active participant or an interested spectator, and should the conversation lose its sheen for you, you’re free to leave.
While the concept of engaging in real-time conversations in dedicated rooms sounds exciting, the question is – does Clubhouse have what it takes to compete with the social media biggies for consumer share of time?
Out of sight, out of mind
The fundamental experience on Clubhouse is to enter a room, listen/participate, and then exit the room. There is no content to browse through should you feel the urge to check the platform out at your convenience. Irrespective of the increase in live content on other platforms, there is always some content to entertain its userbase, owing to the archiving model they follow. Even if you were interested in the topic being discussed in a Clubhouse conversation, the free-flowing nature of the conversation means you’d have to wait around for insights that may be of interest to you – and no archiving of the content also means no way for you to go back to the conversation. This ephemeral nature of the content is a major setback.
It’s not for nothing that they say structure is good
While free-flowing discussions like the ones on Clubhouse have their appeal – there’s more liberty with the content – the lack of structure and direction could soon derail a conversation. With structure and planning out of the question, Clubhouse will really need to up its ante with the quality of content and speakers both, if it wants to add some credibility to attract and retain consumers.
Hardly anyone wants to make an appointment
Real-time content dissemination like in the Clubhouse app calls for appointment viewing – not something that’s popular in the Netflix era. In order to strike a chord with evolved audiences in particular, on-demand content is the only way to go. There is a need to have good and interesting content to appeal to multiple types of audiences, at any time of the day or night, and none of which is prepared and sharply edited. All of it is free-flowing and live. Can that kind of content manage to provide value to users, all the time? I would have my serious doubts!
So, to conclude, Clubhouse definitely has the potential to make it big – it’s an innovative platform, after all - but it has its work cut out for it. Voice is the future, and to bank on the emerging importance of voice tech is a smart, if not necessary move. It’s the way it has been packaged that gives me reservations. While its breakaway from conventional content presentation rightfully makes it the app du jour, it could also be its downfall. Sustaining it, given its limitations, could be a challenge. Could it evolve into something better, more streamlined? Time will tell. Meanwhile, if Clubhouse doesn’t deliver, I may take my inquisitive ears elsewhere.