Remember Orkut? There was also Hi5 – the social network for meeting new people. Soon arrived Facebook to have us all sign up so we could catch up with former classmates and get a peek at our peers day to day. Social Media has driven conversations and brought to life trends that make us want to indulge by contributing or by simply scrolling through it. While Facebook seems to have reduced itself to an app that reminds us of Birthday’s; Instagram, initially a photo sharing app, acquired by Facebook seems to be a hit amongst youngsters. With Tik Tok banned in India and Instagram introducing its Reels feature, Content Creators certainly are enjoying a high of algorithms that pushes content beyond geographical boundaries.

At a time when live events aren’t taking place and; we seem to be spending more time than ever on our phones…in comes a new app that has caught the fancy of many internet users.

Clubhouse is a voice-based social networking app that allows people to have discussions through chatrooms in real time. You have the moderators who are the hosts of the discussion and you have listeners who can contribute with the “raise your hand” option. Not to forget the “Leave Quietly” option that lets you get in the virtual hallway from which you could choose to enter any chatroom that’s in progress. Started in March of last year the Clubhouse seems to have garnered a lot of attention with users thronging to atleast see what the hype is all about.

The exclusivity at the beginning certainly added curiosity. Originally designed for Podcasts under the name Talkshow, the app was rebranded as Clubhouse and officially released for the iOS operating system. The entry to the app was not just a download from the App Store but based on invitation sharing. A user could share an invite for others to join in which made it an exclusive club. The App boasted of having over 10 million active users in one year since its release, the noticeable growth in popularity occurred when celebrities such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg made appearances on the app. In India the likes of Karan Johar to Kusha Kapila even politicians Smriti Irani, Rajyavardhan Rathore would appear in chat rooms to address various subjects. The latest jumping on the bandwagon was Deepika Padukone talking about Mental Health on Clubhouse. May 2021 the company launched the Android version of the app and now the entry barrier of invitations dropped for people to download the app directly through playstore/app store.

From standup comedians to radio hosts, foodies to scientists’ discussions on various subjects seem to be a standard at all times on Clubhouse. Interestingly the cofounders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth have weekly townhalls on the app where future plans to features are discussed in an informal manner. The ease of using the app of just having conversations without turning on the camera on your phone and simulating a live event makes it a unique experience that people of all ages seem to be jumping onboard. However, there was a significant drop of 21% user base reported in early 2021 after its initial release.

Bringing communities together – Real-time discussions on everything under the sun and beyond seem to have takers in some form or the other. From relatable stories and experiences to sharing thoughts and ideas the app brought together subject matter experts and their followers under the same room exchanging perspectives and communicating. The platform seems to be a hit with brands that are into storytelling and wish to engage with their potential clients through engaging conversations and long form discussions. From branding to marketing, from head hunting to future prospects there is an audience that’s willing to stay in a room for as long as their content of interest is being spoken about. Even DJ’s and budding artists seem to have an audience to showcase their talent and network with likeminded people. The app now even allows one on one messaging so clearly plans of being bigger than just a voice sharing platform seems to be evident.

While there seem to be the regulars who have made Clubhouse their home hosting discussions and being active with various clubs the question does arise as to how long can this sustain? After a few days of using the app does it make you want to come back to it or have you gone through the grind of Clubhouse and your account stays there as a “been there done that”? The app has shared plans of monetising its content for creators and is aggressively bringing in big names on their platform to attract an audience. But as things open up and we unlock would folks still have the patience and time to listen to something actively which cannot be binged as per your convenience?

Clubhouse certainly has created a clout for networking at a time when we are socially distanced; away from physically meeting at events and conferences. Virtual meetings and work from home continues to be the order of the day while the social media giants try to bring in their own version of audio rooms. From Facebook to Spotify to Twitter every app now sees potential in having an audio discussion room for keeps; does that potentially break the flow for Clubhouse and should you sign up or wait for a refined version of the app? The answer is two part – It may not be for every brand however as a user who wishes to experiment with social media and is looking for an avenue to express yourself without having to worry about the cosmetics or how you look this app seems to be a must try. Do try it out and let me know how you liked it.

– By Sriram Sullia, RJ, the Evening Drive show, Fever 104, programming head for Fever 104 FM & 94.3 Radio One, Bangalore, corporate emcee, host, runs a production house and hosts a podcast with his daughter Aryaa. He also teaches on weekends on an ed tech platform on how to be a host/podcaster and RJ.