As Clubhouse informed its users in May via a push message that the app was now also available on Android phones, this message elicited little more than a surprise from the German millennials: “Oh, I still have the app on my phone?” Hard to imagine , considering the hype that Clubhouse generated in January 2021. The live talk app became the number one medium incredibly quickly. Almost everyone who “did something with the media” and wanted to tell everyone about it, joined the club. Some even paid for it – the invitations were traded for a lot of money on eBay. The fear of missing out was great. Celebrity users, exciting rounds of talks, small scandals like Bodo Ramelow’s CandyCrush affair – there was always something going on.
The clubhouse concept hit a nerve. Finally entertainment again in the dreary Corona January. The app was also new technically. Live discussions with some celebrities have never existed before. A few months later, it’s hard to remember. How did it happen that Clubhouse went as fast as it came? Clare Devlin, journalist and founder of the social media consultancy “Logical”, believes the quick fall was fueled by several factors. The app takes up a lot of time that nobody seems to have after the lockdown. The topics of discussion also flattened out: “I had the impression that after two to three weeks the discussions were turning in circles. The same arguments and topics over and over again. That was quickly told. “
In addition, the beta version rolled out in Germany could only be installed on iPhones. “Many content creators, influencers and media houses had to justify themselves very quickly why they distribute content on a platform that excludes so many people.”
No moderation, no filters, no data protection
Ann-Katrin Schmitz, podcaster, entrepreneur and independent consultant for influencer and social media marketing as well as e-branding, protects Clubhouse on the technical side. The artificial shortage was certainly strategically sensible at the beginning, but technically it was hardly avoidable. “The beta version of Clubhouse was still being developed. The app would not have been able to cope with an onslaught of all smartphone users. ”Nonetheless, it also lists several factors that led to the rapid increase in the Clubhouse app. The discussions lacked good moderation. There were also no filters that recognize and block inappropriate content. Schmitz misses a higher-level authority that ensures that all users adhere to the guidelines.
These points of criticism shouldn’t be new to Clubhouse. Critics noted early on that the discussion rooms were not controlled by the app. Data protection was also a problem. Anyone who created an account granted access to all contacts in the address book. An exclusion criterion for many users.
However, there was little “hate speech” to be heard. Trolls also have a harder time on a live talk platform than on Twitter or Instagram. The author Peter Wittkamp, who at times moderated his own format on Clubhouse, puts this down to the spoken word: “Everything that sounds bad in writing is as good as dissolved in the spoken word. Anyone who takes a stage at Clubhouse to spread hatred is ridiculous. “
Put more emphasis on quality
Wittkamp firmly believes in the clubhouse concept and describes the current calm on the platform as an “intermediate phase”. Schmitz also sees great opportunities for live audio streaming. However, she sees another provider at an advantage when it comes to conquering the market: Spotify. The music streaming service is very familiar with the mechanisms. Although Twitter and Facebook are also working on audio solutions, Spotify is best able to implement filters and regulations. In addition, the Swedish company can better bundle the content created in the talks. A “Publish as a Podcast” button could also save the conversations for listeners who were not there live, said Schmitz. Creators would have the opportunity to establish and monetize their own formats. Clare Devlin also relies on an editorial expansion. The streaming platforms would have to put more emphasis on the quality of the content produced live and promote well-produced and conceptualized talks.
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Although all three spend little or no time at the Clubhouse, they look back fondly on exciting evenings there. Wittkamp describes the hours of conversations with mostly complete strangers as “light bar night”. Nowhere else has he been able to network so quickly and embrace new people.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to find out how Clubhouse felt about all of this. The company did not respond to inquiries via email, Instagram and Twitter. There also seems to be calm in customer service.