Every now and then, a new social media app comes along that changes the way we create and consume content. Snapchat did it with disappearing content, then TikTok did it with short-form videos. In 2020, Clubhouse did it with social audio.
Once hailed as “the next big thing,” Clubhouse is now competing against a new wave of audio-based platforms. Despite growing pains, though, Clubhouse is still attracting big names, brand partnerships, and new users.
Read on to learn how to use Clubhouse and why you might want to join. We’ll also cover the pros and cons of the platform and share some examples of how businesses are using Clubhouse to connect with their audiences.
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a social audio app — think of it as a call-in radio show for the 21st century. Users enter “Rooms,” where they can listen to (and participate in) conversations about specific topics.
When it was first released on iOS in March 2020, Clubhouse generated a ton of buzz, partly because of its exclusivity: you had to be “nominated” (aka invited) to join. At one point, users were even selling invites on eBay, and its valuation spiked from $100 million in May 2020 to 4 billion USD in April 2021.
The Clubhouse frenzy drove other social media apps to develop their own versions of Clubhouse, resulting in Twitter Spaces, Facebook Live Audio Rooms, Spotify Greenroom, and Amazon’s forthcoming Project Mic.
Clubhouse is secretive about numbers, but interest has definitely cooled over the last year. It looks like downloads hit an all-time high in February 2021 and dropped sharply from there.
There’s still room for growth, though. Clubhouse has become a popular venue for discussing global and political topics. For example, a room for discussion on the situation in Ukraine reached one million users in mid-April.
The app is still drawing big names, too. In April 2022, former InStyle magazine editor Laura Brown announced a new Club (more on those later) featuring weekly interviews with celebrities like Elle Fanning, Sophie Turner, and Rebel Wilson.
Quick Clubhouse stats for 2022
Clubhouse is secretive about demographic data; they have told reporters that they don’t collect it. Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together:
- Clubhouse has been downloaded 28 million times as of December 2021. (AppFigures)
- Clubhouse is the 9th most downloaded app in the App Store as of April 2022. (SensorTower)
- The app has 10 million weekly users as of February 2021. While that number has almost certainly changed in the last year, it’s impossible to find more recent numbers. (Statista)
- Their most popular user has 7.3 million followers. Cofounder Rohan Seth is the most-followed Clubhouse user as of April 2022.
- Clubhouse was valued at $4 billion in April 2021. That’s a pretty dramatic increase from its $100 million valuation in March 2020.
- 700,000 rooms are created each day by Clubhouse users, according to the app. (source)
- Clubhouse users are young. Over half of Clubhouse users are between 18 and 34 years old. 42% are between 35 and 54 years old, and just 2% are 55 or older. (source)
- Almost half of users open the app daily. In April 2021, 44% of Clubhouse users in the United States accessed the app every day. (source)
How to use Clubhouse: A step-by-step guide
As of July 2021, anyone can join Clubhouse — no invitation required! Download Clubhouse from the App Store or Google Play, and you’re ready to get started.
Clubhouse users can also join or create Clubs, which are groups related to an interest or topic.
More on those in our step-by-step guide to using Clubhouse in 2022:
1. Set up your profile
As with other social media apps, you’ll add a profile photo and short bio. Clubhouse also prompts you to connect your Twitter and Instagram profiles:
Clubhouse also asks for your interests, called Topics. These will be used to guide you to Clubs, Rooms, or Events that you might enjoy.
2. Follow other users
Clubhouse is all about the connections! Connect your Twitter and Instagram accounts or use the search function to find more people to follow.
Once you follow a user, you can sign up to be notified whenever they’re speaking by tapping the notification icon on their profile.
3. Chat with users
Backchannel is a chat feature that allows you to message other Clubhouse users. You can message anyone on the app! (I’ll update this post if Dolly Parton writes me back!)
4. Join or start Clubs.
Think of Clubs like super customizable groups: they can be based on topics or interests, feature regular or recurring conversations, and open to the public or completely private. Some Clubs have guidelines for members, which will be displayed when you click to join.
You can also start your own Club, but you must have a verified email address and be active on Clubhouse. Users are limited to starting one Club at a time.
Once you join a Club, you’ll be notified when a room is opened or scheduled. These will appear in your feed. If you are an admin or founder of a Club, you’ll be able to open rooms.
5. Browse the “Hallway”
The Hallway is your Clubhouse feed. This is where you’ll see upcoming or active Rooms, updates from users you follow, and replays that you might be interested in.
6. Drop into a Room, or open your own.
In addition to the Rooms listed in your feed, you can search for Rooms by topic or keyword. Live Rooms will display a green bar when you join.
You can browse what else is happening on Clubhouse while listening to an ongoing conversation. If you’re not feeling the conversation in one Room, you can tap the “Leave Quietly” button at the top or just tap another Room to join that conversation instead.
Anyone can open a Room on Clubhouse. You can allow access to anyone or limit it to friends, selected users, or people who receive a link. You can also give your Room a title, enable chat and replays, and add up to three Topics. Topics and Room titles are searchable, so adding them will make your Room more discoverable.
7. Join or schedule an Event
You’ll notice a calendar icon on the top of your Clubhouse app screen. This is where you’ll see scheduled upcoming Events from the Clubs or users you follow.
You can schedule your own event by tapping the “Start a Room” button at the bottom of your Clubhouse feed and then choosing “Schedule an Event.”
Pros and cons of Clubhouse for business
Now that you know your way around Clubhouse, you might be wondering whether it’s right for your business. Here are a few factors to consider.
- Clubhouse is (still) new and exciting. Yes, the fever has died down since March 2020. But Clubhouse is still the social media frontier, which means you can still stake a claim before your competitors do.Because few brands are on Clubhouse, no one has really figured out how to engage with its users yet. Your efforts to connect with potential customers may go nowhere. But you might be one of the first businesses to crack the Clubhouse code.
- Conversations are genuine and unfiltered. The app is based on long discussions, not 15-second videos or caption-length posts. As a result, the content on Clubhouse is much more in-depth. That provides an opportunity to gather meaningful insights from prospective customers.
- There are no ads on Clubhouse. This is both a pro and a con. You can’t buy attention on Clubhouse; you have to earn it. As a result, it’s a high-trust platform. For smaller brands, this level playing field offers a distinct advantage. You can’t get drowned out by major competitors with bigger budgets.
- Great speakers thrive on Clubhouse. Brands are scarce on Clubhouse because it’s a people-focused app, which means charismatic individuals stand out. If you’re a leader in your industry and a champion for your business, Clubhouse can offer you a valuable platform to build connections and develop a following.
- Your audience might already be there. Yes, Clubhouse is still small compared to many other social media networks, but some industries are well represented. Entertainment, sports, and crypto all boast active, growing communities on the app.
- Competition is fierce. If your brand is branching into live audio, then Clubhouse might have been a no-brainer two years ago. Now, there are several big players on the field. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Spotify all offer platforms similar to Clubhouse and have much bigger user bases.
- Very limited analytics. Clubhouse doesn’t provide much in the way of analytics. Clubhouse Creators who host events or Rooms can only see total show time and cumulative audience numbers. That makes it hard to figure out if you’re reaching your target audience or whether your content is making an impact.
- Accessibility limitations. Since Clubhouse is audio-only, it’s got some baked-in limitations for social media users who are hearing-impaired— particularly since the app doesn’t offer captioning. For their part, Clubhouse has told The Verge that they plan to add captioning in the future.
- No verification. Essentially, anyone can set up a page for your brand. This means that your brand might already have a presence, even if you have nothing to do with it.
- Limited discoverability. The search function on Clubhouse is pretty limited: you need to enter the exact name of a Club, Room, or user in order to find it. There’s no ability to search by tags, topics, or Club descriptions either. This makes it tough for prospective customers to discover you on Clubhouse, even if they’re looking.
Examples of brands on Clubhouse
The global speaker series built on “ideas worth spreading” partnered with Clubhouse to bring exclusive conversations to the app. The official TED Club has 76,000 members and opens an average of one Room each week. Back in March, they hosted a conversation between author Adam Grant and Dolly Parton, which attracted 27.5K listeners.
TED also illustrates one of the challenges for brands on Clubhouse, which is the lack of verification. If you search “TED,” you’ll actually see an unofficial account listed first. There’s no way to distinguish between official clubs and imitators.
Cosmetics giant L’Oreal Paris hosted a series of Rooms on Clubhouse for their Women of Worth, which honors “extraordinary women who serve their communities.” The Rooms were hosted by environmental activist and speaker Maya Penn, who is very active on Clubhouse. Her following (1.5k) dwarfs that of the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Club (227 members). Both numbers indicate that Clubhouse is still a pretty small pond; in comparison, Penn has 80.5K followers on Instagram.
Still, the size of a Club doesn’t predict the audience for a Room: the first Women of Worth conversation has had 14.8K listeners to date. If it’s compelling enough, your content may be able to reach a larger audience.
In April 2021, Clubhouse announced they would partner with the NFL to host Rooms during “draft week.” As football teams chose their new players, the NFL Club would open Rooms featuring conversations between athletes, coaches and TV presenters.
As 2021’s Draft Week happened before Clubhouse introduced Replays, there are no archived conversations to listen to. The NFL Club currently has 2.7k members, but it’s hard to tell if the Club is still active.
Peacock, the streaming service from NBC, has a very active Club for TV recaps and conversations. Fans can join in on discussions of their favorite shows after the episodes air, featuring cast members and show-runners.
The Peacock Club has fewer than 700 members, but it’s only been active on the platform since February 2022. It’s the newest brand partnership on this list, so it’s still growing. And its Rooms are drawing bigger crowds, with 19.6k listeners in its first Room on February 6.
For brands who have established audiences on other social media networks, the size of the audiences on Clubhouse is likely to be a deterrent. You’re just not going to see the engagement that you can get on a platform like Instagram or TikTok yet. But if your brand is still trying to find its audience, you have the opportunity on Clubhouse to grow with the platform and carve out a niche.
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