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"My question is..."

Chances are, on this 19th day of January in the year 2021, when readers see the word “clubhouse” they’ll have one or more of these four reactions:

  1. I am obsessed with Clubhouse!
  2. I can’t WAIT to get invited to Clubhouse!
  3. I am so sick of hearing about Clubhouse! 
  4. What is Clubhouse? 

So, to help bring the 4's up to speed and to prevent some 3's from potentially catastrophic eye-rolling injuries, I offer the following quick and dirty overview after roughly three weeks on the site.


In case you haven’t heard.

Clubhouse is a new “drop-in audio chat application.” Translation: it’s a social media platform that uses only voice - no videos, no photos, no captions, and no posts. When a user logs in, they see a list of “Rooms” that are currently underway and the title of the conversation happening in each room. There are conversations going on about every possible topic - amongst people from all over the world - at any given moment of the day or night. Users can “drop-in” to any open room, listen for a while, and leave at any time. A moderator, or group of moderators, facilitates the conversation and manages the participation of the speakers and guests in the room. Most conversations allow users to raise their hands and be “called to the stage” to ask a question or add a comment. Rooms may have three, three hundred, or even 3,000 people connecting on a topic. 


The app launched in early 2020 and the way it has rolled out - slowly and by invitation only - has not only fueled fierce interest but has also generated a thread of mild disdain among would-be users. (As in, “I wouldn’t want to be on Clubhouse anyway.” I’m looking at you, 3's.) Not to mention, it’s only available for iPhone users. Nevertheless, it has proven in this early stage to be extremely intriguing and, apparently, right on time. Here are the qualities that seem to set Clubhouse apart from other popular platforms:


    • Come as you are. As a listener, you can pop into any room at any time - while you’re doing the dishes, shoveling the driveway, etc. In this way, Clubhouse has the same appeal as podcasts and audiobooks. Also, unlike Zoom meetings or other video-based discussions, your appearance, your surroundings, and your ability to stare at a screen are no longer barriers to entry. Just tap in.
    • I guess you had to be there. Rooms are not recorded and there’s no playback option so, if you want to be part of the discussion, you have to be in the room. Unlike recorded webinars and posts that live on in a feed, the magic is in the moment. You can’t automate your content and you can’t farm it out to a team. If you want the magic, you have to show up. In fact, I’d say that Clubhouse’s leading value proposition lies squarely in your having shown up with all the other shower-uppers.
    • A whole new world. Ever wanted to listen in on a discussion about breaking into the film photography industry? Or join 1,499 others in a talk about reprogramming your subconscious for success? Are you burning to chat with someone about iterative product roadmapping for high growth tech startups? Or maybe you’d be interested in hearing the stories told in the “I dated a scammer” room. These were actual options today - along with folks singing a capella, practicing Mandarin, and so many more. This app is providing instant access to the people and conversations you’re interested in - including many celebrities and leaders - without having to be invited or even knowing anything about the topic in advance. And, the access isn’t to a curated selection of photos and quotes they want you to see, it’s to their voice, in conversation, in real time. 
    • You’ve got to be serious. Or not. There are plenty of rooms on Clubhouse that play host to casual, silly, or nonsensical conversations. But, the majority of topics available at any given moment are generally useful, relevant, informative, and often incredible. Most rooms have great moderators, interesting speakers, and riveted audiences who take notes and clamber to ask questions or thank the panel. From what I’ve observed, the overall atmosphere on Clubhouse is collaborative and respectful. There’s a strong undercurrent of etiquette and a shared understanding of acceptable conduct and practices. 



What else?

If you’re anxious to get on the Clubhouse app and start listening, moderating, or presenting, here are a few tips I’ve picked up in the short time I’ve been hanging out there:

  1. Once you join, you’ll receive one invitation to give to someone else. Over time, more invitations will become available to you. Be selective when extending your invitations as your name will appear at the bottom of their profile in perpetuity. 
  2. Participating in a discussion for the first time can be a frightening prospect. Schedule or start a room with a couple of friends as a trial run. Take turns moderating, speaking, and figuring out the functions and tech so that you’re more comfortable raising your hand in another room. 
  3. You can follow individuals and you can join clubs.  For example, I follow MC Hammer and I am a member of The Nonprofit Space and Coaches, Consultants, and Course Creators clubs) and you will receive notifications whenever someone you follow has created a room or when rooms are created in your clubs. 
  4. The first three lines of your bio are the most critical (thanks @prwithimpact) as these lines show up when another participant clicks on your photo. You can link your Twitter and Instagram accounts to your bio (only these two for now). 
  5. Great moderators will take time to “reset the room” every so often to restate the topic and possibly re-introduce the speakers. 
  6. Great listeners will be succinct and mindful of others when they are called on to ask a question. The Golden Rule is “tell us who you are and go straight to My question is…’ "

It'll be interesting to see how this app evolves as it grows. In the meantime,  if you’re ready for more on How to Clubhouse, these two articles offer a deeper dive into getting started and making the most of the app.  

Clubhouse 101

Social Media Examiner: How To Get Started on Clubhouse

And, please connect with me @therealbernmack:


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