I don’t believe that Clubhouse is succeeding for a single reason, but instead because of a whole confluence of factors. I decided to make a list of these - it’s in dot-point form as this article would be far too long if I expanded on each of these points:
Clubhouse provides you the opportunity to talk to people who you’d never normally talk to and listen to conversations you normally wouldn’t have a chance to hear.
Text-based networks like Twitter polarise us as that leads to clicks, but Clubhouse incentivised running a conversation that people want to be part of. People are incentivised to be maintain decorum as they can be muted or removed from the stage if they’re being disruptive.
The initial crowd appears to be relatively successful, educated and high-status. So naturally people are going to want to hang around these people.
Exclusivity created by the invite-only system. Plus there’s quite a few celebrities who have run rooms on Clubhouse, some regularly. Even if you don’t get to talk to them, it still feels relatively exclusive to know that only X number of people are hearing the conversation.
FOMO - especially since people know that whatever magic Clubhouse has will disappear over time.
Lots of people want to become influencers and they know that it’s much easier to gain followers and capture a niche early on.
People feel much more comfortable sharing on Clubhouse because of its ephemeral nature, especially given the highly polarised nature of the public discourse. Whilst someone could be recording, for the smaller rooms this is unlikely.
Perfect timing. The pandemic means that many people either can’t go out or have been choosing not to go out, but they still want to socialise.
The audio-only format means that people don’t have to worry about their appearance or feel obligated to sit in front of their computers.
More generally, people don’t feel obligated to give their full attention. Quite a few parents are able to go on Clubhouse while doing things like preparing dinner, when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to give a talk or socialise. This makes it work for busy people.
Commenting on someone’s posts and having a conversation are completely different things. For most people, contact via text just isn’t as satisfying as a real conversation!
Podcasts have become increasingly popular over the last few years which has helped people become used to audio-only. At the some time, Clubhouse leads to formats that aren’t very common on podcasts such as large panels, Q&As and open discussions.
Most podcasts that allow interactivity have done so through chat, but Clubhouse allows people to engage with the hosts in a way that allows a back and forth. There’s been far too many times when I’ve felt compelled to have my say and ended up spending like 40 minutes in a room waiting for the chance to speak.
Drama. The unscripted nature allows for fights and people love gossip.
Since Clubhouse is live and mostly unrecorded, there’s a sense of urgency. If you want to hear a conversation, it’s now or never.
Clubhouse provides a way of connecting with communities that you don’t have access to in real life (such as niche communites) in a way that is much more satisfying than what the text-only mediums provide.
Networking - seems to be a very efficient way of meeting potential clients or advertising whatever project you’re working on.
Lots of people would like to host a podcast, but there’s certain expectations in terms of polish and it’s something of a commitment as the general expectation is for podcasts to be ongoing. Clubhouse doesn’t impose these expectations.
One cool aspect of Clubhouse is multi-day rooms which people can check-in and out of. This is the exactly kind of thing that doesn’t happen on Zoom.