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As the world’s richest person, Elon Musk has the power to turn just about anything into gold these days. Just look at how every tweet from Elon Musk about Bitcoin can send the speculative cryptocurrency surging within minutes. And the latest example of Elon Musk’s Midas touch comes from his lengthy Clubhouse hangout on January 31 that saw Musk not only talk about Tesla- and SpaceX-related tech innovation in the Good Time chat room, but also call in Robinhood founder Vlad Tenev for an impromptu audio chat about what’s going on in the financial markets with Gamestop and other meme stocks.
At this point, of course, you’re probably scratching your head. What the heck is Clubhouse and how did it appear out of seemingly nowhere to become the most talked-about social media app of the year? (Sorry, Zoom and TikTok, but you’re so 2020). For one, the reason why Clubhouse has thus far stayed under the radar of many social media experts is because it is still in private beta, and has thus far been opened up only to people with invites. That alone has given the app the aura of exclusivity. And now that big-time social media stars like Elon Musk are using Clubhouse, it’s time for the app to break out into the mainstream this year.
Basics of Clubhouse
In many ways, Clubhouse is “social media” without the “media” part. You see, you don’t create any media content, you don’t create any posts, and you don’t add comments or replies to existing media content. Instead, Clubhouse is what the future of voice-based social networking could look like. Clubhouse self-describes itself as “drop-in audio chat,” and that gives you a pretty good idea of what Clubhouse is and how it works.
Once you open up the app, you see “the hallway,” which is your guide to various voice chats happening online. As you travel down the hallway (i.e. scroll down the main page of the app), you get to peek inside each of these rooms to see who’s chatting, and on what topic. You can then choose to drop in and see what’s going on. If you like what you hear, you can even participate once the moderator of the chat room sees you raise your hand. You then can chat with whomever is in the room at the time. And if that person happens to be Elon Musk, well then you’re talking one-on-one with one of the most famous people on the planet. (Just be advised that everyone else can hear what’s happening in the room, and some people may be transcribing your conversation for review later.)
Potential uses of Clubhouse
Once Clubhouse gets out of the private beta phase, it’s easy to see how it might be used by brands and small businesses to connect with employees, customers and potential prospects. Already, ideas have been floated for how Clubhouse would work best with existing social media initiatives. Some have proposed that it could be used to host virtual events and summits in the era of coronavirus. Instead of appearing in person for a major business conference, you’d just drop in for chats and talks that are relevant to you. In many ways, Clubhouse is like a large convention anyway, with lots of breakout rooms and special conference areas for different talks, tracks and speeches.
Another possible use of Clubhouse would be a sort of collaborative chat room for projects. Now that we’re all working remotely, wouldn’t it be useful to have a way to communicate informally with others scattered around the world? In this way, Clubhouse would be a sort of “audio-only” version of Zoom.
The only limit is your imagination
In many ways, the potential applications for Clubhouse are limited only by your imagination. University professors could use it to host “office hours” or tutorials for students. Podcasters could use Clubhouse as a way to reach new audiences with live voice content. And business executives of all levels could use Clubhouse as a way to network, collaborate and share business ideas. And, of course, brands of all sizes could use Clubhouse as a way to create VIP experiences for customers. Imagine buying a brand-new luxury item and having the chance to talk directly with designers and fashion influencers in places like New York, Paris or London.
One thing is clear, though. Any social media app that manages to catch the attention of Elon Musk is one that should be on your radar going forward. Voice-based social networking could be one of the big breakout trends of the year, now that Twitter has also come up with an idea for voice-based social networking (Twitter Spaces). So forget about news feeds for now and embrace the concept of the hallway and find your own private space to hangout online.