Founder and CEO
You may have recently heard about a new social media app making the rounds. Clubhouse is the latest social media platform to grab everyone’s attention, including celebrities and entrepreneurs. Last month when Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg appeared on the app, so many users rushed to the platform that it almost crashed. The app has become so popular that there is now a wait list to join. If you don’t want to wait with the rest of the public, you must be invited by an existing member to get access. So, what exactly is Clubhouse and why is it so exclusive?
Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio-chat app that offers room for discussions between two or more speakers. The app was launched in April 2020, but really began taking off in late 2020 / early 2021.
Once you’ve snagged a coveted invite and download the app, you are prompted to set up your profile and select topics of interest, ranging from education to tech to music to fitness to pop culture. From there, you can join virtual “rooms” or create your own. Each room has a different topic and is usually hosted by an expert in that field.
What’s so unique about Clubhouse is that unlike other big social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram, which rely almost exclusively on visual content, Clubhouse is audio only. There are no videos, no pictures, and very little text. The audio conversations are all live and happening in real time, so it almost feels as if you are joining a live podcast episode.
The Texas Business Hall of Fame had the opportunity to speak with Walter Kinzie, TBHF Director and Founder and CEO of Encore Live, an innovative event production and experiential marketing firm. Since joining Clubhouse, Walter has amassed a large following on the app. We asked Walter to share his insights on Clubhouse, as well as some predictions for the future of the app.
What first drew you to the platform and when did you start using it?
I was invited in early February, but I did not get it at first. You have to dive in and really understand how it works and more importantly how to be respectful on there. So much of what you can do it limited by the access others are willing to give you.
You’ve seen a lot of success on the app – how did you build your following?
As with anything in life, go big or go home. One thing I noticed is the rooms with the largest audiences and the most engagement had popular presenters and current/relevant topics they were discussing. I noticed that politicians were absent from the platform, so I started inviting members of congress to join. To my knowledge I interviewed the first federal elected official on the app. Since then, I have interviewed several and members of congress have now reached out to me requesting to join.
In your opinion, what does Clubhouse offer that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. don’t?
Authentic, real two-way discussions in real time. All other social media is largely a one-way conversation. It was amazing to me how quickly I just abandoned all other social media pages. If I want to get real feedback on an idea I have, at a moment’s notice I could have a global, diverse and real audience to throw ideas out and see how they are received. The time, energy and money this saves me is unreal.
You’ve hosted several interviews ranging from politicians to musicians – what do you think makes for an engaging interview and virtual “room” on Clubhouse?
It must be a relevant and current topic that people care about. I have hosted discussions that thousands of people attended in the last couple weeks. I also hosted two topics that were deeply personal to me that I felt would be welcomed and not one damn person showed up to engage.
Currently, Clubhouse is invite-only. Do you think the exclusivity of the app gives it an edge over competitor apps?
If it does, I’m not seeing it. I have hosted talks that 10’s of thousands of people would have shown up if it was easier to access. That said, the invite-only shows the growth of the audience and gives people a chance to understand the platform. There are always way more people involved than there are people trying to figure it out. That helps the learning curve for the new folks.
Do you think Clubhouse is just the latest social media craze, or do you think it will stick around for the long haul?
There are rumors of well-funded competitors coming out. Clubhouse, just as any of them, better be prepared to modify and adapt to the demand of their audience or they will be another “Vine” in the world of instant competitors with new and improved versions of their products.
Thank you to Walter for sharing some great insights on Clubhouse. If one thing is clear, it’s that this is a critical moment for Clubhouse. How they respond in the next few months will help determine if this app has staying power or is just the latest fad. The app does appear to be on an upward trajectory, so if you’ve been interested in joining, we say now is the time to dive in. What are your thoughts on Clubhouse?