The relaxed nature of discussion, in my experience anyhow, is charming. I’ve enjoyed diverse conversations with erstwhile colleagues and friends from work. It’s like the Listening Project on the BBC but with people you know, or know of.
As the ‘high five’ moments with Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg in the room fade away, what’s left? An astonishing range, so far. Deadmau5 and Tony Kaye riffing on their creative process. A fascinating chat about audience segmentation with Mat Morrison, and another about the future of the UK Tech scene with founders of Tech For UK Mike Butcher and Eloise Todd. These are pertinent to my interests.
Naturally, dissenters abound. Rory Sutherland tweeted today about how people who bang on about inclusivity are hypocritical for joining. It’s not particularly accessible. It’s self evidently exclusive, as you need an invite to join. It’s not (yet) available on Google’s Android (disclosure: former client). Some of these things will fix themselves over time.
Early efforts of mystery quickly debunked, I’d recommend it as a more affable form of LinkedIn. You can set up a room yourself and chat with a friend, or drop into a scheduled event like a radio show or a panel. You don’t have to listen to idiots. Unlike TikTok, that endless rabbit hole of weirdness, the Clubhouse effect is warming.
But there is a deeper game to play out. Elaine Moore wrote in the Financial Times about the risks of buying in stars to plug social platforms, quoting the cautionary tale of Snapchat and Kylie Jenner. For those who don’t remember that far back, she was paid to adopt Snapchat early, only to dismiss the platform publicly a year later, with a devastating effect on the stock.
According to Alex Zhu, founder of Musical.ly, social networks evolve if early adopters are young, creative digital natives with plenty of time on their hands. They also need naturally emerging stars, and a system that can produce them. TikTok’s highest profile creators, (like teenage dancer Charli D’Amelio, with well over 100 million followers) were born and made on TikTok.
Whether Clubhouse can create that rate of acceleration with emerging creators or conversationalists, remains to be heard.