As someone who identified online trends early growing up, it’s been fun to adapt to new platforms and integrate them into my business and social life over the past two decades. So when Clubhouse launched, I kept my peripheries on it to monitor growth and interest. But I was quick to notice a general disinterest in the app. Even though it debuted last year, it took a good six months before it started to spark interest in career networking groups, and people seemed to be hesitant with their use.
So what is it, exactly, that reduces the viability of this app? Is it really worth investing your time into? I’ve identified 5 reasons why Clubhouse just isn’t for me below.
Clubhouse doesn’t feel inclusive
Let’s start with the homepage of the app, shall we?
Yes, it’s called “Clubhouse.” There is no word more reminiscent of treehouses, blanket forts, and poorly written “GIRLS ONLY” signs on bedroom doors. So, naturally, there needs to be a secret password and restricted access. But the invite-only concept comes off as elitist. The homepage is almost blank, offering the simple greeting: “Hey, we’re still opening up but anyone can join with an invite from an existing user! Sign up to see if you have friends on Clubhouse who can let you in. We can’t wait for you to join!” This statement is accompanied by a “Download on the App Store” button and a waving emoji. Instead of being minimal and design-forward, it feels haphazard and incomplete.
The first time I caught curiosity for the app and visited, it was this landing page that made me feel like someone in the secret club had just slammed the door in my face. Plus, those of us who don’t have friends on the app or access to an invite might be inclined to think the emoji is waving “Goodbye” in our general direction. The messaging indicates that – even if I take the time and space on my device to download the app – I might not have any friends that can actually grant me access. And let me tell you, there is no more humbling experience than logging in to a new experience and being told you have “no friends.” What a case of emotional turbulence.
While CEO Paul Davison claims that the app is on its way out of the invite-only phase, there are currently no future plans or publicly available information. I’m not surprised, since its rollout was so secretive and confusing. (Was it on purpose, or were the developers trying to beat competitors to market? I’d bet the latter every time.) During an unprecedented time where everyone’s differences are being highlighted and the world feels disconnected, it’s a shame that an app focused on exclusivity is gaining traction.
Clubhouse isn’t built for visual people
As someone who is highly visual, I delved deep into the recesses of XANGA, MySpace, Facebook, and Instagram early. The ability to create your own reality using tools you can access on the internet is a very interesting concept and helped to shape my creative abilities and career path. But Clubhouse is an audio app, and early business messaging indicates it will remain that way.
Sure, Clubhouse boasts both free and paid club membership options, brand partnership and sponsorship opportunities, and an Ask Me Anything (AMA) function, but those aren’t unique to the already overabundant social media landscape. These options seem to be way more functional (and visually stimulating) on apps such as Instagram and Facebook. Plus, I can share more of my world with people there via text, audio, design, and photography.
Clubhouse might not have a mission
You know that feeling you get when you download an app, and then realize it was not ready to phase out of Beta? Clubhouse feels incomplete. (The homepage says “still opening,” though the app debuted for iOs almost a year ago.) That said, the limited messaging around the app doesn’t indicate a mission, tell a compelling story, or even make me want to participate. It’s hard to get behind something with no context about what the app actually is, who it serves, and what it aims to do.
Clubhouse is just another social platform to keep track of
Everyone has been left a bad taste in their mouth with the amount of data leakage and information that has come out of digital media giants like Facebook and TikTok over the last couple of years. Clubhouse is no different. None of my colleagues are currently looking to diversify their social platform usage if only to try and keep some of their information from data mining. At the end of the day, Clubhouse is just another social media platform to keep track of. And you’re probably not looking for anything else to usurp your career-focused mind.
Clubhouse is, at its core, a simple phone call
The idea of an app that acts like a multi-line phone call just isn’t intriguing to me.
Unsurprisingly, Clubhouse participation spikes during celebrity discussions. SXSW went interactive this year and worked with the app for several integrations and ongoing discussions, and I’m sure the tech landscape will allow it to flourish, despite its glaring issues. Keep tabs on Clubhouse and other digital trends here, and check out updated job openings in the tech world here.