Clubhouse — momentary boom or social trailblazer?Minyoung Son
FMCG Analyst at NielsenIQ Korea
Lying on your bed late at night, you can hear Mark Zuckerberg talking about future technologies, and you can even ask him questions in real time. When you’d like to switch the vibe, you can just scroll down for a second and enter the DJ Room, enabling you to fill your room with music. Anyone can be an influencer while anybody can join the chat with celebrities; all are enabled thanks to the new buzzy social app, Clubhouse.
Clubhouse is the real-time audio-based social networking platform where you can drop in on diverse topics of conversation, interviews and conferences, but only for certain people who were invited by existing users and who also use an iPhone (at least for now). Due to its exclusivity and the image of the platform utilized by celebrities such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and former Minister of SMEs and Startups Park Young-sun, the buzzy app has been seeing a sudden spike in interest in Korean society since last week. Gen Z and millennials have been jumping on the bandwagon triggered by curiosity and the fear of missing out, which even lead to the invite tickets being sold in online secondhand markets.
The Covid-19 situation also meshed with the app’s characteristics. Spontaneous interpersonal communication, which vanished with Covid-19, is revived in Clubhouse, enabling users to feel the human touch they’ve been lacking. You can collide with new people regardless of the physical barrier and without taking care of looks, which removes the limits of socialization. Only for the past three days — the entire span of myself using the app so far — I got to know more than three people who work in similar fields as me and was also able to ask questions to celebrities that I’ve only seen on television — Horan of Clazziquai and actress Gong Hyo-jin. Beyond just overhearing some well-known people’s chats, you can also easily be an influencer without too much efforts as long as you have differentiated knowledge of a certain field that you can share with others.
Amid the influx of new social platforms, the buzziest audio-chat app seems successful in going through its initial phase of going viral. Though the next tasks for them from now on is more weighing; whether they would solidify their position even after the Covid-19 lockdown, how they would set up the business model, and to what degree they would regulate inappropriate topics for discussion. The chat platform is expected to track existing social apps’ business models by leveraging the power of influencers and making the listeners pay to enter into the worthy listening rooms. However, concerns remain whether the influencers will be able to find enough reason to stick with Clubhouse. Also, the blurred line of inappropriate topics such as hate speech and racism might drive out the users.
Amid the intense competitions, it is interesting to see whether Clubhouse will keep paving the way to fill the void of people’s needs for socialization, or just vanish away leaving a mere momentary boom.