Don’t Be Afraid to Speak: Affordances of Clubhouse

“How to make the most out of Club House 🤔”

That was the first room I joined on Clubhouse immediately after being invited to the app. I signed up for the app expecting to wait like the countless others on the waiting list to join the limited-user platform. But surprisingly enough, I was able to sign up shortly afterwards with thanks to my friend Parker and his invite.

I was extremely curious about what the buzz was about the app. It honestly sounded like a platform for realtime podcasts, which I do not listen much too simply because I don’t have the spare time to and I can’t multitask.

However, after further research, audio apps are going to be taking over a new wave of social media. Social audio apps are increasingly gathering the attention of new users. With the rise in the usage of ZOOM, people still want to connect over digital devices, but without the intrusion. Social audio apps allow users to speak and connect with others without the pressure that the affordances of video bring. Yet. . . isn’t there the good ol’ phone call?

What social audio apps like Clubhouse provides is a stage where you can easily invite others to join in on the conversation. Rather than replacing phone calls or audio messages sent back and forth, Clubhouse provides a podcast-like experience without the rigid, doctored editing process. It is becoming so popular, competitors like Facebook are trying to snag the attention that Clubhouse has garnered.

“Home” screen

Upon entering the app, it was a bit hard to navigate at first. The color scheme doesn’t make it exactly clear where you are supposed to go first.

After I tapped on some topics I am interested in learning more about, it gave me a list of rooms to join to learn more.

However, the green start a room button threw me off. I wasn’t ready to host a room, still not, and I was trying to tap around in order to get into one of the rooms. Shortly after joining, I found a room of people who were new to Clubhouse like I was. Through the clubroom, the moderators gave the tips and tricks to clubhouse and helped answer the audience’s questions. They even invited me to speak, but I wasn’t at that point yet. I was still searching for the point of the app.

I learned that the popper celebration emoji 🎉 on your profile picture signifies that you are a new user who has been on the platform for a week or less. The room also discussed that muting and unmuting your self is a sign of showing support, as the moderator named Kate put it, “we are here for you.”

Intention and Expectation

After some investigation, I learned that Clubhouse wants you to start a clubroom and chat with the person that invited you immediately after joining. I understand that the app wants users to make use of the audio chat function, but rather than chatting in the app, I went straight to texting Parker a thank you for inviting me to the app. Their desire for users to create a room to talk with their friends makes sense for the big green button to start the room. However, I wasn’t planning on immersing myself into speaking immediately after joining. I had planned to relax and discover the space. I wanted to see what this app was all about.

Strengths

Clubhouse has been able to gain traction with the prominent and popular users that have flocked to the platform for discussions. Elon Musk, Snoop Dogg, Oprah, and countless other well-known people are on the app and hosting meaningful and deep conversations that can’t be accessed anywhere else. It is against community guidelines to record any rooms or conversations, therefore the exclusivity of the content, as well as the ability to even get on the app, is what makes Clubhouse stand out against current and future competitors like Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms.

Weaknesses

Ultimately, Clubhouse does not have a feature to directly transcribe the audio into text for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. So far, there are no other options to participate in the app without the use of live automatic caption programs. In fact, with the rise in popularity for Clubhouse, it has added to the wave of digital ableism. Currently, Clubhouse does not have any features to add captions, but adding captions to the platform will prove not only beneficial to those with disabilities, but also for the company itself.

Opportunities

The future of social audio is still unknown, but most figure that it will continue to rise and gain popularity, making its mark as a new form of social media. Some brands can turn to clubhouse as a form of customer service or they can use Clubhouse as a platform to connect and develop relationships with their customers. Live conversations are also expected to be embedded on all forms of media that correspond with the topic spoken. Social audio apps bridge the gap between the affordances of text and the affordances of video to create a new opportunity to communicate and engage with others, but ultimately excludes a whole population of users beyond the act of limited invites. While it still is in beta, there is hope that Clubhouse can continue its new way to communicate, with everyone being able to participate in the near future.