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Clubhouse: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Neil Sheth

15 February 2021

Clubhouse Top Profile

Hey Clubhouse,

Firstly, thank you for the effort you are putting into building an amazing audio app and your transparent approach.

I wanted to offer a user perspective from someone that has been on Clubhouse for at least 4 hours a day since the beginning of January. Having been a Project Manager for 10+ years I try to take a balanced view and I hope that comes through as you read this.

So, why am I doing this? Partly because I feel like I’ve got a lot out of being in Clubhouse and like the idea of sending you a few thoughts; and partly because there are some negatives that I’d like to help shape in any way possible.

Let’s get started

The Good

Connecting with people at scale

No platform is even close to providing the opportunity Clubhouse presents to meet and build a relationship with like-minded people. I’ve met an ex Dragons Den, got to meet so many similar people I would have never known, met potential customers, and even had calls with potential partners.

Creating rooms with new audiences within minutes

The user flow to create and schedule a room could not be any easier. Clubhouse kicks Eventbrite or Meetups out of the water. It would be interesting to see if there’s a way to merge offline/online in the future once things open up but this is definitely a nice to have.

Gives everyone a stage

There are no barriers for anyone to create their own stage and I love how Clubhouse helps to level the playing field. I started a room with a few others at the beginning of January and we started with less than 30 people joining the room. Fast forward to 4 weeks down the road, we are hitting over 150 people. The best thing is that people come back if you truly put your audience first.

Sparks new thoughts and ideas

I’m often jumping into rooms with a panel of experts and listening in to the conversation. Many times over, it has sparked new thoughts and ideas and that’s the beauty of having access to some of the best minds in the world at the touch of your fingertips. I’ve practically replaced podcasts with Clubhouse rooms.

Entertainment

Clubhouse is entertaining.

Last week I dropped by a ‘Come Dine With Me’ group where people changed the profile image to the food they cooked for dinner and then the judges commented on the meals. I was literally in stitches.

Then, there’s the ‘Single and ready mingle’ rooms where people try to seduce the crowd.

And then there are just entertaining and informal conversations.

No surprise I’ve enjoyed Clubhouse.

 

The Bad

Mods sitting in multiple rooms: it’s clear there is a land grab going with mods trying to hoover as many followers as possible by simply sitting in silence on the panels of multiple groups and offering no value.

My suggestions:

  • Personally, I think this should self-correct as more and more mods are seeing the importance of aligning themselves to ethical practices and appearing to be doing the right thing. I also have no idea why any lead mod would want to create a group full of mods who simply sit there.
  • Reduce a moderator’s ‘follower’ impact from joining a room, making their following less and less important until they are actually engaging with the platform as opposed to just taking.
  • Begin to voice and promote the importance of maintaining highly engaging rooms and sharing ways to implement and measure engagement.

Advice is not necessarily good advice: Having listened to multiple rooms with bad advice, the platform can be very noisy. However, over time I’ve learned to reduce my followings to specific people who I enjoy hearing from and choosing specific groups.

My suggestions:

  • You could allow people to vote on the conversation? Similar to Reddit where you can see what people think about a conversation prior to jumping into it.
  • Or, people can leave their thoughts on a particular club so you can see the reviews it has received before jumping into it.
  • You could allow people to vote up or down a club instead of a particular room?
  • Similar to giving hearts on Periscope, what if the audience was allowed to give hearts to a particular speaker as they spoke and that speaker earned value points over time?

Passing the mic does not exist: Currently managing conversations with a large number of people on stage can be difficult as anyone can jump in at any time.

My suggestions:

  • It would be useful to have the option to pass the mic as opposed to allowing everyone to jump in. Essentially, if a user is on stage and wants to speak they should be able to highlight it to the moderator and it would then be on a moderator to allow them to speak. 
  • People who are added to the stage should be automatically muted as a standard.

Having A Head Moderator: The platform lacks a lead moderator badge and feature that can help to control the overall conversation. The problem is that without this feature, I’ve seen moderators getting booted off stage, moderators handing moderator badges to everyone and lowering the quality of the conversation. 

My suggestions:

  • Introduce the lead moderator badge and give them specific permissions and accountability.

 

The Ugly

Cliques: It’s clear there are cliques across Clubhouse. Cliques with large followings can almost create their own monopoly as their rooms naturally rank at the top of the feed and get seen by more people. I’m all for great rooms with high-value conversations, but there’s clearly a way to game the system. So, maybe there’s a way to give smaller, highly engaging rooms a bit of help.

My suggestions:

  • Begin to measure audience engagement. Maybe this is based on people coming on stage asking questions, keeping conversations flowing, time people actually spend in a room as opposed to bouncing off and perhaps liking a room. Loads to think about when it comes to engagement.
  • Rooms with inactive moderators lose the specific moderators’ ‘follower power’.
  • Enhance Clubhouse UI to show thumbnails (similar to Youtube) to show more events on the feed. Aim for 4-6 events on a single screen. Do we need to see people’s names? Maybe some engagement stats would be better.

The rich get lazy: Within 2 weeks of being in Clubhouse, it was clear, this platform is either where the rich get richer and is about who you know, not what you know. By rich, I don’t necessarily mean money, rich can also be rich in following.

For instance, you tend to see the same moderators inactive, sitting on large stages growing their following. Whereas, there are so many other moderators, like me, who are organising rooms, networking and really spending time planning a highly engaging room. Whilst longer term, I do feel the quality of the audience the hardworking moderators gain will be higher, it does feel like a large gap.

My suggestions:

  • Inactive moderators could lose their visibility to the rest of the audience.
  • Moderators who don’t organise rooms, or engage in discussions could lose part of their visibility or follower impact when joining new rooms.
  • Moderators who organise rooms and discussions are rewarded for it. Even if they have a small following.

I would love to see some of these suggestions get implemented and most importantly help make Clubhouse a platform for high-quality conversations and connections.

If you have any other suggestions please add them in the comments below.

Cheers

Neil

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2 Comments

  1. mls

    Hi Neil,

    I had to step away to cook lunch, so I did not get a chance to appreciate your efforts for setting the room to create content and your honesty/transparency for not bringing me to the stage – I knew it when I waited long at the bottom, lol.

    I am not against for moderators to screen folks to be on the stage if it is a popular room with thousands in audience. But I wonder if we might lose opportunities to meet interesting souls and hear genuine opinions. To me, the beauty of Clubhouse is to hear voices and instinct responses instead of scrolling over a beautifully written bio.

    Also, I am not against networking and personally witnessed how great for people meet others across different fields. However, it will defeat the purpose of setting Clubhouse as a unique social media if we cannot create a content collaboratively by connecting perspectives from a broader audience.

    This is my two cents. I will continue my bio with “Social Experiment: Will you let me speak if I raise my hand?” I will see how frequently I will be invited on (wink).

    Reply
    • Neil Sheth

      Thanks for being patient and opening up an interesting debate. A brief intro may help to share where your perspectives come from and encourage collaboration. Let me know how the experiment goes!

      Reply

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