WHAT IS CLUBHOUSE, THE HYPE & FOMO?!? (Part I)
By Arzo Yusuf, Sexy Boss Babe CEO & Founder
The New Year has barely started and already, life is moving quickly, if you aren't part of what's new or the evolution, you will get left behind. You have probably been hearing about it all over social media and wondering wth it is?!? It happened to me, I kept seeing posts of people writing their handle and asking to follow them on Clubhouse. Others wanted invites and the majority were left asking "what is Clubhouse?" So, what it is? In short, it's "The" new social media platform that's causing a significant amount of FOMO (fear of missing out) for those that don't know what it is and even for those that not only know what it is, are on the platform and active on it, yet are in a constant state of FOMO trying to keep up and get the most out of what it is.
As a female empowerment speaker, entrepreneur, podcaster/content creator, part of this lifestyle is learning and keeping up with social media. Social media is constantly changing with new platforms like TikTok or even the comeback of Snapchat, or the organic exposure of Instagram Reels and growth ability on LinkedIn. People always wonder what to do if they invest a lot and build on one platform and poof, a new platform comes out, what are you supposed to do? Gary Vaynerchuk is the King of this answer and always tells people to not fall in love with any platform because new ones come out all the time and you have to evolve with those changes. With that said, the new kid on the block is Clubhouse. In May 2020 they were given a $100 million valuation and according to the New York Times, have 600k active members.
Why The Hype?
So why the FOMO? Why the hype? Why the mystery? For starters, you can only access Clubhouse if you are invited by an existing member. It's not available to everyone, it's exclusive and anything that's exclusive is, well...H-O-T, right? It's also only available to Apple iPhone users, so if you are on an Android, sorry, you are not part of the club. It is however free and it's an app just like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat or whatever else is out there. You can download the app through the app store and set up your profile even if no one invites you. It's actually a good idea to, just in case someone does feel generous enough to extend you an invite, you will already be up and ready to go. I didn't know what it was at all, I just heard dozens of people talk about it on social media and it was enough for me to investigate and download the app to see for myself what the noise was all about.
It kind of didn't make sense to me at first but once I set up my profile, I was notified that it's invite only and I wouldn't be able to access anything until I was invited. Somehow within a few moments, I became an active user because someone I know, Portia Woods, of www.woodlegalgroup.com (a Will & Estate Planner...yes, I'm giving her a plug because she was generous to me and I like to reciprocate =) gave me an invite a few days before I joined, so once I set up my profile, the app connected my existing invitation and there I was, an exclusive Clubhouse member that was part of not only a new social media platform but in the early stages of it. I quickly started to search for my favorite celebrities, thought leaders and influencers that are well known and have big followings and that's when something caught my attention.
This platform really is so new, everyone is building organically from scratch. Lewis Howes @lewishowes who has 1.6 million followers on Instagram only has 7k followers on Clubhouse. Shannon Decker @shannonshape has 108k IG followers, just joined CH and only has 15 followers. Tiffany Haddish @tiffanyhaddish has 6.3 million IG followers and for Clubhouse has a rather healthy following at 453k but still, it's a tiny fraction of her IG following. Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee has 8.7 million followers on IG and on CH, only 41k. So what does this mean? Is Instagram better than Clubhouse? No. It means that Clubhouse is on the ground floor and it's anyones game. ANYONES.
Clubhouse is actually still in beta mode. That's partially why it's invite only. It's not available to the general public yet unless you have that invite. Are you ready for the main point about Clubhouse? It's not a video or photo based app like IG, Tiktok, FB etc. It's an audio app!!!!! There are no DMs, there are no places to message one another like IG or FB, it's straight audio, live streaming. Also, it's not like a walkie-talkie situation, you can't message people directly. It's actually very similarly structured to Facebook Groups, only in audio format.
For those of you familiar with Facebook Groups, you will understand this concept better. For those not familiar, I'll explain. Similar to FB Groups, Clubhouse is completely structured as private or public rooms. Once you are a Clubhouse member, you are able to see what rooms are currently open and scroll through until you find a room to your liking and join as an audience member. As an example, there is a room titled "Entrepreneurs Only" that I was stuck in for 4 hours the other night. I wasn't actually stuck in the room. I willingly and intently was listening to the conversations for 4 hours. What's funny, is I haven't even started to share with you what the heck this thing is and what people are doing and that people are marathoning in rooms for 24 hours sometimes.
So, in the Entrepreneurs Only room, there were about 460 people total in the room with 12 pre-selected moderators known and asked to join by the group founder/host. The discussion exists between the moderators and the rest of us are in the audience listening. There are times when you can "raise your hand" by clicking on the hand button and it notifies moderators that you would like an opportunity to speak in the group. Some groups don't allow hand raising while others do, every group is different. The moderators in this particular group were either famous or had some strong notoriety.
There were well known millionaires in the group or investors/CEOs like Moj Mahdra, the CEO of BeautyCon who is shaking up the digital beauty landscape by making it more inclusive of all types of beauty and bringing in political activism and intellectualism into the beauty space. It may make you wonder what politics and intellect has to do with beauty? It doesn't, but beauty is a space where women heavily congregate and women still face a significant amount of culturally gender based oppression which includes limited access to important information that affects our lives.
Moj is a bit of a trail blazer and she has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in the last year or so within her network and the beauty industry (you can look into that yourself.) But, she's a WOC from the LGBTQ community that's made significant strides and as an audience member, you have the opportunity to listen to her and others' insights first hand in a raw, organic way that you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Point being, the moderators were well selected and were interesting people that in real time, discussed information about what's trending in digital media, success, start ups and even getting into unscripted, sometimes, rather heated, debates on topics.
I particularly enjoyed the debate about all those showy "millionaires" on social media posting with stacks of cash, lamborghinis, yachts and it was the first time I saw, or should I say heard, the culprits in the hot seat by their millionaire peers sort of being scolded. It was interesting to hear what people on both sides of the argument had to say. The more traditional wealth builders spoke against it and how people with real success and wealth wouldn't think twice to promote in such a blatant and "tacky" way. The nouveau riche millionaires that were the culprits defended themselves saying they do it because the general public are the shallow ones and will only follow you or buy your products/services if you "live the lifestyle."
They claimed it was a specific marketing ploy to capture the attention of a particular audience to sell them. It was a closed group so I wasn't allowed to raise my hand but I wish I could have, I wanted to point out how being in a position of influence lends to a level of leadership and responsibility. This type of marketing might make the marketer more successful but most people will never accumulate wealth like that and they are using methods that not only exploit people but contribute to ruining societal values at the same time. There are plenty of groups that will allow you to raise your hand to speak and with that, it becomes a very interactive experience of real engagement you can't get on any other platform.
What It's Like
Clubhouse has a very big emphasis on a culture of support and following one another. If you are in a room listening, you are encouraged to follow all the moderators on CH and on IG too with a promise that they will follow you back. In people's profiles, they include their Instagram and Twitter handle and it actually works even though it's on the honor system. I've had an increase in my followers both on Clubhouse and on Instagram by following others. Your profile is also an area that allows you to post your photo and include your title(s) and bio. There were different themes of how people chose to write up their bio and some rooms exist to teach you how to optimally create your profile/bio.
I mentioned earlier about the 24 hour marathons, so yes, people are in one room for hours, even days talking about subjects related to the topic in the room. That's sort of where the fomo comes into play. You don't want to leave a good room because you don't want to miss out on what someone might say, it's crazy! You can multitask while listening to people talk but there is this strange sense that you always want to be in the app or see what's going on or if there are any new rooms open or what are upcoming events. There's a constant feeling that you don't want to miss something.
Another fun feature is that you can start a room of your own or create an ongoing club within Clubhouse too. Anyone can start a room immediately or set up a room for a future date/event but it's not a permanent room, it's just a room for the event while you and other moderators/audience members are in the room. With CH still in it's beta stage, it's also evolving and changing and the founders/designers are learning ways to do things better every day. What I've written here, might be outdated six months from now.
What Is The Purpose?
What is Clubhouse trying to be? It seems to be trying to be a legitimate networking platform and a place to create connections and genuine engagement with real people in real time based on your interests. I've attended multiple groups and have listened for hours and that's what looks like to be the main theme. It is designed to be a place for people to network for the purpose of moving your business and career forward through meeting others that can help you and offering ways to help others. Or discuss topics of interest with others. I was in a room with casting directors, musicians and actors and the casting director was speaking to give out information and letting the talent know how to submit their headshots, reels and even promising to look at all submissions. As a podcaster, I had interest in and joined the "Podcast Club" room and the moderators were seasoned, successful podcasters openly discussing and sharing helpful tips and encouraging questions from the audience.
Another important thing they really tout is that this is the only social media platform that isn't about looks, the perfect photo or camera angle. It's all about personality and who people really are. They are claiming that this is the place where you really can't be fake; it's about sharing, talking and truly connecting with others. The timing of the app also couldn't be more perfect falling in line with the pandemic. I, like countless people, find moments of bitter loneliness or nights I can't sleep and to easily open up the app to hear people talk and join in for a casual conversation and be warmly welcomed making me feel less alone. It's different, it's cool and I think with our new world, it just might work and be around for the long haul.
Clubhouse does seem to have a large base of Black Americans as members so there is an opportunity for people to immerse themselves into and first hand be exposed to Black culture. In the last year, I've been hearing a lot of White Americans talk about how is someone better able to understand Black culture and to be honest, this could be a great way to do that. Although race and ethnicity are not an issue and Clubhouse is open to and welcomes anyone (as long as you have an invitation,) it can be a place to get out of your comfort zone and experience people and conversations that you may not otherwise be exposed to. I also see it as a good tool for people in human resources looking to meet diversity objectives. We all remember Wells Fargo's CEO having to give a statement of apology for saying "there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from." Clubhouse could be a solution to creating more diversity in corporate America by having a broader pool to access BIPOC talent in a meaningful and interactive way.
I'll wrap it up by sharing what the power of this platform can do. I randomly joined the "Positivity Room" and everyone was given a turn to talk about their recent wins and the moderators or group members would shout and cheer for them, it was really fun and uplifting. When it was my turn to share, I was going to keep it short and simple, but something told me to just go a little deeper so I not only shared my recent wins, but I shared the challenges I faced on the journey and inspirations that kept me going, my mission to help foster youth and sex trafficking survivors. Not only did I get 14 new followers on CH, almost half followed me on IG too; I had 3 female leaders message me on IG about collaborating in various ways to help this demographic. I'd like to give them a shout here because these are the types of female leaders that are movers and shakers, the kinds I like to be friends with and celebrate. Thank you to South Dakota State Senator, Red Dawn Foster @reddawn; Business Consultant, Monica Malik @mmalik and Podcaster, Tracyavon Ford @positivepodcast--you ladies are awesome! The Positivity Room was founded by Melanie Marie @melaniemarie and Tevi Brown @tevi helps to moderate the room. If you join, make sure to give all these ladies a follow.
I'm still a newbie with this whole thing, but one thing about me, I'm known to just jump in the deep end and learn my way. Don't be surprised when I say I'm hosting my first pre-planned room event in Clubhouse on Tuesday, January 5 2020 at 6pm pst called "Be More Confident." I have no idea what to expect but I'm excited to experience it. My handle is @thearzoyusuf (same as Instagram) if you want to join me and discuss this topic, I'd love to see you there. Who knows, maybe you could be a moderator in my room!
Follow up blog: “Clubhouse, Is It Really That Great? (Part 2)
Arzo Yusuf founded Sexy Boss Babe, a women empowerment, social impact beauty brand that supports foster youth & sex trafficking survivors. She’s executive producer and host of the related podcast, Sexy Boss Babe about female centric topics. She is also a public speaker giving keynotes, hosting events, facilitating workshops and speaking on various topics including social entrepreneurship, networking, leadership, women empowerment, confidence, body positivity, self esteem etc. She truly wants women to realize their self worth and says it's what holds them back from everything they want in life. She believes that once women learn how to connect to their inner power they can lead lives that are happier and more fulfilled. To connect with Arzo visit: