A quick search of “social networking” in the Apple App store revealed many new apps in this genre. It was easy to be fooled, though. Some apps appear to be marketed as social media apps, but they are dating apps. Thankfully, Dr. Gilpin’s definition of a social media platform helped narrow the options, which were still many. The criteria to determine if an app meets the definition of a social media platform is:
- Digital tools and practices that people use
- To publicly or semi-publicly share or curate user-generated multimedia content
- To establish and maintain relationships
Clubhouse is a self-proclaimed “social audio app” initially launched in 2020. It takes the podcast format and takes interactivity to another level. Podcasts are digital audio files that may or may not be recorded with a live audience that a follower can download. Listener interaction with a podcast happens through the comment section to which the host or other listeners reply. Clubhouse offers rooms with varying content where subscribers can host a discussion in real-time and allow listeners to join the conversation. Listeners can also post comments, emojis, and interact with other listeners while the discussion occurs. The host can respond to listener comments as well. When a new event is posted, a notification is sent to members of that room when it starts to join right then or save it for replay. Any subscriber can host a room on any topic and offer any number of events. To find a room, subscribers need only to search topics or create a topic of interest list in their profile. Notifications then alert users to rooms that fit their interests. Hubspot named Clubhouse one of the platforms digital marketers need to watch in 2022.
Clubhouse meets Dr. Gilpin’s definition of a social medium. This platform is a digital tool that people are using in practice. Currently, Clubhouse has 2 million active users. It is a publicly open platform where members can listen to user-generated audio content. By the end of 2021, Clubhouse hosts over 700,000 rooms on everything from animals to organizational challenges. Even well-known celebrities have been heard engaging on this platform. Lastly, Clubhouse establishes and maintains relationships. The platform has over 8.7 million registered users worldwide, and reports users spend on average 11 to 22 hours per week listening in. Users describe the platform as a real-time podcast app with interactive panel discussions and an opportunity for networking all wrapped in one.
I have been using Clubhouse for the past couple of days. I have come to enjoy listening to people’s ideas on various topics. I found I need to listen to the podcast from the beginning. Since there are so many people in the conversation, it is easy to get confused. The app makes it easy to join since it alerts me that a topic I follow is going live. I have also begun to follow hosts and locate them on other social media apps. I see myself continuing to use the app and have suggested it to colleagues to download it. I also see a massive opportunity with the app in my business’ digital marketing plan and will figure out how to incorporate it.