Remember Clubhouse, that buzzing, audio-centric social app that everyone wanted to join when they needed an invitation to do so, but then lost interest once the invitation-only restriction was lifted?
Ok, this may be a slight exaggeration of the download rate, but there has been a pretty clear decline in app listings lately.
But for those who still fancy the app, Clubhouse has this week added a new feature which tends towards a different use for the platform, to facilitate spontaneous social encounters and encounters between friends.
There are more than 700k rooms open every day in the clubhouse. Yes, it contains the great moments you see in the news – but it is also very beautiful, small rooms between friends.
That’s why we’ve built a new feature to make the informal chats even easier! Say hello to Wave ???? pic.twitter.com/3A24CBbAxW
– Clubhouse (@Clubhouse) 23 September 2021
As you can see in this video review, Clubhouse has added a new ‘Wave’ option, which allows you to signal to your connections if you are active in the app and open up for a chat. If they are interested, you can start a smaller, private room — a broom closet, if that does not stretch the metaphor too much — where you and your friends can hang out, away from the more topic-oriented discussion rooms.
As explained by Clubhouse:
“Here at the clubhouse, more than 700,000 rooms are created every day. Many of these are the common moments you know and love, but it is often the smaller private moments among friends that get a smile on their face: birthdays, prolonged catch-up watching, watching a movie over the long distance, making plans for the weekend, or just on a Thursday night outing.”
The Wave option caters to these use cases, which, like previous live streaming, see audio socials now expand to more private chats and encounters, offering a different way to stay in touch with friends at any time — what may be perfect for our interactions that are still limited.
A similar template, in this case, is Houseparty, which gained significant traction a few years back as a live hangout tool for younger users.
While the main focus of live streaming was generally your own broadcast, Houseparty followed a different approach, which quickly took off, while the app after 20 million users shortly after launch, while it had more than 1.2 million daily active substances after only 8 months on the market.
This caught the attention of Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, which House party bought in 2019, with the aim of making it the complementary platform for Fortnite players who also virtually wanted to hang out – to see their teammates, instead of just hearing them.
The specific use case never noticed, and Epic recently announced that it will permanently close Houseparty in October. But for some time, Houseparty has agreed on an important trend for streaming that others have missed, to connect smaller groups, as opposed to public broadcasts, and to facilitate informal encounters with friends.
Given the use case, it makes sense for Clubhouse to investigate the same, and you can see how the option can be beneficial and add more potential use options to the app. And maybe it will help him set up a more specific niche, because while Clubhouse was the app of the moment a few months ago, it clearly will not be able to maintain its momentum of engagement, and with competitors wanting to eliminate it on the market, it will need to find an important niche – or perhaps a few niches – to strengthen its place in the broader social sphere.
Spontaneous encounters can be part of this, while Clubhouse still clings to markets outside the US, especially In the, where audio aids tend to facilitate more functionality due to various barriers in written communication, as well as data constraints that restrict video usage.
While this is not the shiny new thing, and it looks like Twitter Spaces will become the most important audio-social platform of choice, Clubhouse still has several opportunities to explore – and it has recently appointed former manager of Instagram entertainment partnerships, Chelsea Macdonald to help it create more connections with established and rising stars and creators.
In addition, the clubhouse is also working on new audio aid, which offers a different way to share clips from Clubhouse chats, which could be another way to build buzz and get more listeners to download the app.
Can clubhouse still become a mainstay in the social media space and a real challenger for the established players?
Maybe not in the sense that it seemed a few months ago, but I see the potential of Clubhouse more akin to Reddit, with dedicated, passionate, involved communities joining the rooms, offering an alternative, more exclusive space for chats as the larger social programs.
If clubhouse can establish partnerships with relevant groups and build on its potential as a more specialized, more focused community space, it looks like a more viable path, which the app can not reach billions of users, but it will lay more solid foundations for continuous use.