A Comprehensive Guide

Intro to Clubhouse, an Emerging Social Media Star

The app for authentic and genuine conversations, direct networking, and active learning through listening.

A girl holding a magazine that contains information about the Clubhouse.
A girl holding a magazine that contains information about the Clubhouse.
Photo by Author via PhotoFunia

In the following sections, I introduce Clubhouse, an emerging social media outlet that might outdo TikTok in the coming months.

Sorry Android users, this article is not for you. That’s because they built the app for iPhone only. But wait. Here is some good news: they’re going to expand it soon to all phones. Only the Chinese might not use the app, as its government banned it recently for “allowing millions in China a glimpse of an unfiltered, uncensored internet.”

According to Tech Crunch, other social media giants are working to introduce Clubhouse-like features:

“[T]here’s been an explosion of social audio experiences, including those from startups like Sonar, Locker Room, Quilt, Yoni Circle, Roadtrip, Space, Capiche.fm, Yac, Cappuccino and others. Twitter, meanwhile, is building its own Clubhouse rival with Spaces, which it said yesterday will expand to Android by March. Facebook, too, is reportedly planning a Clubhouse competitor.”

1. What’s Clubhouse?

Paul Davison and Rohan Seth of Alpha Exploration Co. launched Clubhouse, an invitation-only audio-chat iPhone app, in April 2020. The app allows for a dialogue between two or more people through live voice chat.

The social networking app was priced at approximately $100 million in May 2020. Around 2 million users installed the app in a few months. In 2021, its valuation reached $1 billion.

Clubhouse’s global downloads increased from over 3.5 million on February 1, 2021, to 8.1 million on February 16, 2021. As of now, it has over 10 million users.

Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and some other highbrows also joined the social audio app recently.

1.1. Why they established it?

Established in early 2020, its founders wanted to develop a platform “for authentic conversation and expression — where people can have fun, learn, make meaningful connections, and share rich experiences with others around the world.”

1.2. Who can use it?

For now, it is only open to iPhone users. You can download the app and set up an account, but you will be on the waitlist. If you know someone who is already on Clubhouse, they can send you an invitation. This way, you don’t need to wait. Ensure they have free slots, as users can only invite two other people once they set up.

Use your phone number to set up your account after receiving the invitation link through SMS. You can invite two other people after you’re done setting up your account. Later on, they might make free slots available. You can invite more people as you keep using the app — or earn credits.

1.3. Future prospects

In the near future, people can use it with all types of phones. The number of users might become more than that of TikTok, based on Bloomberg.

2. An Introduction to the App

Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, whether you’re active on the app, or you don’t have any clue about it, I provide you with a comprehensive introduction of the app interface and its functionalities. This might help you use it in a conscious and meaningful way.

2.1. How to find the app in the App Store?

Since this is for iPhone users only, you can go to the App Store and search for the ‘Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat’ app.

A view of the App in the App Store and iPhone search screen.

2.2. Invitation

If you have free invites, they appear under the envelope icon. Tap on the icon to see the number of invitations.

Two of its main rules are given below:

“You must use a real name and identity on the service.”

“You must be at least 18 years of age to use Clubhouse (or older if required by your country).”

Left: The first SMS you receive after someone invites you.

2.3. Profile and Bio

As of now, you cannot lock your account. Anyone can see your list of ‘Followers’ and ‘Following.’

As it is a voice-based chat platform, the only way to let others know about yourself would be to write a bio. You can connect your Clubhouse account to Instagram and Twitter accounts.

A screenshot of my full and mini-profiles on Clubhouse

Can you change your name?

Based on its website, you can only make a one-time correction:

“Clubhouse is a real name service, but occasionally people enter their names incorrectly on sign up. To help with this, we’ve added the ability to make a one-time correction to your Full Name in the app. We will still enforce our real name policy but understand there may be errors, shortened names (e.g. Matt vs. Matthew), etc. that could be important to you!”

2.4. Followers

Anyone can follow you and see the list of your followers. Unlike Instagram and other platforms, bots cannot follow you. If anyone follows you, they might know you, or your name might appear randomly once they set up the account.

Occasionally, when you search for names and clubs, some auto-suggestions appear. That’s also a way others might find and follow you.

Since your content is your voice, those who follow you are your genuine followers interested in listening to your conversation or talking to you as and when they’re on the app.

A blurred list of my followers

2.5. Following

You can follow people and clubs on Clubhouse. Apart from friends and clubs, you can follow strangers and public figures too.

Who and what can you follow?

2.6. Nominator

A Nominator is a person who invites you to the Clubhouse. Her or his name appears below your profile. Sriram Krishnan, the host of “The Good Time Show,” nominated Elon Musk.

A screenshot of Elon Musk’s Clubhouse account.

2.7. Clubs

The app hosts communities known as clubs. That’s why it is called Clubhouse. So, the app is a house for your club(s). Your club can be about any topic.

Based on its website, they “see clubs as a way to host a series of intimate conversations with a defined community of people. […, and] want to see clubs grow into communities of people that come together regularly based on shared interests, identities, activities, and more!”

You can explore people, clubs, and topics here.

— Club Founder

If you establish your own club, you’re the club founder. For instance, I established the following club.

As a founder, you can edit the club's features and add followers to the list of members and even admins.

— Club Follower

A club follower can receive updates about events of the club but cannot schedule events.

— Club Member

A club member can also schedule events. The club founder has to change the club follower’s status to a club member by tapping on her or his profile under the ‘Followers’ tab on the club page.

The app shows trending clubs as and when you navigate the app.

Left: Type to search for clubs on a variety of topics.

2.8. Rooms

A room is where the conversations take place. If your club allows for the creation of rooms, you can create a room in that club. All those who follow you get a notification and can be part of the room you’re hosting.

You can create private rooms, aka closed rooms, and also public rooms. In a private room, you can invite your followers. In a public room (of the club), others can join and listen to whatever you say.

A moderator/moderators, speakers, people who are followed by speakers, and others in the room are room members.

— Room Members

Anyone who speaks, listens, or is present in the room is a room member. But not all members have equal hierarchical power in the room. For instance, only the room moderator can kick others out of the room or mute them.

— Room Moderator(s)

A room moderator is a person who has a green asterisk next to her or his profile picture (in the room only). A moderator can:

  • Invite members from the audience to join the speakers.
  • Move members to the audience from the speakers' lounge/stage.
  • Mute members.
  • Ping her/his follower to the discussion (invite them).
  • Kick members out of the room.
  • Give the members a power equivalent to her or himself, i.e., turn them into moderators.

The Community Guidelines suggest: “Great moderators are thoughtful about who they invite to speak, and try to include diverse people, personalities, and perspectives.”

(I once made someone a moderator; he kicked me out of the room. Thank God, it was a friends’ club, not a serious talk :))

— Audience followed by speakers

If the speakers follow some of the audience, they appear above the rest of the audience.

— Room audience (moderator, speaker, and listener)

The moderator, the people followed by the speaker(s), and anyone present in the room are the audience.

Note: If a club does not allow for the creation of rooms, the club members cannot create a room. They can only take part in the events of the club or create a specific event through the club.

2.9. Notifications

This is a serious issue if you’re new to the app. You might receive hundreds of notifications every day as and when your followers join rooms or ping you. The good news is that you can manage it easily. Look at the following figure to have a rough idea about the notifications.

Left: Eighteen notifications from Clubhouse but only one notification from other apps in a few minutes. You can pause it from the Settings.

2.10. Notion (Clubhouse Knowledge Center)

You can learn more tips and tricks, and also find information about tens of things about Clubhouse on Notion.

If you want to join Clubhouse, have these points in mind based on its Community Guidelines:

— “Be yourself.”

— “Be respectful.”

— “Be inclusive. Tolerate, welcome, and consider diverse people and perspectives.”

— “Build empathy and understanding. Engage in debates that are in good faith.”

— “Foster meaningful and genuine connections.”

3. Other Salient Features

I provide you with a pictorial guide of its few features in the following paragraphs.

3.1. Scheduling events, calendar of the event, and activity status

You can schedule an event. Others will get notified and see it based on the middle window below. Events-related activities also show up on the Activity Menu.

Left: You can schedule an event as a club member.

3.2. Clubs you’ve joined

Anyone can see which clubs you have joined by going to your profile and then moving towards the bottom of your profile. If you follow any clubs but you’re not a member, they can see it on the list of your ‘Following.’

You can create your own club if you’re on Clubhouse for a few days. For now, you can only make two clubs per month.

Right: Tap on the plus (+) icon to create your own club.

3.3. Open room vs. Closed room

You can ping others in a private room or an open room as long as you have the rights. You can block anyone in an open room. If you want to create your own room, you can make an open room and a closed one. The good thing about a private/closed room is that it is not open to other members of the same club — unless you open it up.

You can block others. They can also block you. Sometimes, it is a bit challenging if you both are speakers. You might hear each other, but the app alerts you that you’ve blocked someone in the room.

Right: Click on the profile of that person and then the three dots. This window appears.

3.4. Club invitations

You can join clubs as followers and members. You can then nominate others to be part of those clubs. If you have your own club, you can easily add others and even send them a secret link to join your club. If you are a member of another club, you can search the Clubhouse and your contacts and nominate them for the club.

Left/Bottom: You’re going to receive a notification if someone invites you to a new club.

3.5. Pinging (inviting) your followers into the rooms

If you ping others into the rooms, they receive a notification. If they’ve their notifications turned off, they won’t see it. You can ping people by tapping on the plus (+) icon at the bottom right of the room.

Middle: When you’re on the app, swipe left to see who is online. Their whereabouts also appear next to their names.

3.6. Audio quality enhancement

Since this is an audio and voice-based platform, use a headphone to avoid hurdles. The role of a moderator is also to notify the speakers if their audio has a poor quality. Within the room (as shown in the figure below), there is an option to enhance your audio quality. Lucky you, if you’re only a listener. You don’t need to worry about your microphone.

Manage microphone settings by clicking on the three dots next to the lock icon.

3.7. Terms of Service, Community Guidelines, Privacy, FAQ …

Read more about these and other points by tapping the Settings icon on the app.

Note: They do not permit screen recording. If you do so, they might temporarily or permanently ban you from the Clubhouse.

Left: You’ll receive a notice like this if you record the screen.

4. Final Remarks

Before Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms develop Clubhouse competitors, make sure to use this app if you want to have authentic and genuine conversations with friends, strangers, and people from around the world. If you’re an Android user, wait for a few more months.

You can join clubs of your interest and also make your own clubs. You can be part of the rooms others create on the clubs or create your own room with a specific title. As you create the room, members of the club receive a notification. They might join you if they have an interest.

You can follow public figures, friends, co-workers, family members, and cross-cutting people and listen to their conversations in case they speak in any public room.

You can foster your public speaking, listening, and verbal communication skills by participating in discussions about the topics of your interest — in addition to being part of the discussions.

Try to develop a full bio to help others know at least a few things about you. It is a great tool for networking with new people.

You can only change your legal name once. Make sure to have a clear picture so that others don’t feel they’re talking to a bot or a two-times stranger.

If you want to use Clubhouse for marketing, read this article published by the Better Marketing publication:

Some key points discussed in the above article are listed below:

“Extensively write your bio.”
“Use a unique profile picture.”
“Don’t be afraid to speak.”
“Introduce yourself before you go to the point.”
“Talk politely to others when discussing or arguing with someone on Clubhouse.”
“Host and moderate rooms.”
“Start a periodic room.”
“Help others in their rooms.”

Before ending the discussion, let us ponder upon this quote:

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.“

Thomas Edison (1847–1931)

Writer (Thinker), S. Entrepreneur, CEO, Web/Tech Consultant, IR Expert, Polymath, & Global citizen — ”I write because it isn’t there.” LinkedIn.com/in/mhemmat

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