Depending on your circle you’re probably in one of these camps:
Let’s get the “what” out of the way and then we’ll dive into the “how do I use Clubhouse” part.
What the heck is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is an audio only app that has virtual Rooms for Clubhouse members to connect and have conversations.
You might be thinking that sounds absolutely chaotic, but it tends to work very well!
First - how “audio only” is Clubhouse? Very!
There is no messaging feature within the app itself.
No comments to read.
No like or reaction button.
To be honest, the first couple of times I was on Clubhouse there was a learning curve partly because I’m so used to being able to access those features on other platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
But now that I’m used to it, I like being able to pop into a Room and listen to a conversation while I’m cooking dinner or doing the dishes, for example, without having to look at my phone. I also find it easy to follow along and take notes as needed without feeling as if I should be checking the comments for links or more content.
At this point, you might be thinking that a bunch of people talking at each other isn’t very interesting. And you're right! If they were talking at each other it would not be worth it. But this is what I’ve found in the Rooms I’ve listened to/spoken in - real conversation and real connection.
Getting onto Clubhouse
The easiest way to explain how Clubhouse works is to walk you through it as if you were a new user exploring Clubhouse.
First, you’ll need an iPhone to participate. Clubhouse is still technically in beta right now and only available on the iPhone. My understanding is that they are working on bringing it to Android soon, but don’t have a set date yet. (yes, I know that is annoying for those of you who use Android!)
Second, Clubhouse is invitation only. Which means that in order to get on the platform you need to know someone who is already there AND that person needs to have an invite available. Clubhouse gives new users a single invite to share, but distributes more invites as you use the platform. I have not found any list that says “these actions unlock invites in this order” but I’ve noticed I get invites the more I use the platform.
Even if you don’t know someone who has an invite to share with you, I suggest downloading the app and reserving your user name (again, you’ll need an iPhone to do this).
I often suggest my clients reserve their user names on platforms just in case they want to use them at some point in the future. It is far easier to use one social media name for your business than several slightly different names because the one you wanted wasn’t available. For example, I’m @gmontoyapdx on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Clubhouse. Easy to remember and easy to find!
Once you have the magical combination of having an iPhone, reserving your name/setting up your account on Clubhouse, and knowing someone with an invitation, you’ll need to share your phone number with the person who will pass the invite to you.
They will put your number in their phone as a contact and will then be able to invite you from their contacts list.
You’ll receive your Clubhouse invite via text once they extend the invitation and you’re in!
But then what?
Setting Up Your Clubhouse Bio
As I mentioned before, Clubhouse is an audio only app, so this bio is your chance to let people know what you’re about, what you do, and how to connect with you. (Will random people be checking out your bio? Yes! I’ll explain why a little later).
You’ll need a photo. Can this photo be your logo? Sure. But I don’t recommend it. You are connecting with people on this app, so show your face! Don’t worry if you don’t have a perfect headshot - I’ve seen everything from amazing branding photography to selfies. Just start with a picture you don’t hate. You can always change it later.
You’ll need a bio. This is something that is incredibly easy to change, so don’t worry about getting it 100% perfect right away (I’ve probably tweaked mine about ten times!). One thing to keep in mind is that when you are in a Room and someone taps on your avatar/photo they see the initial three lines first so make sure those first three lines clearly state what you do and who you are.
If you are multi-passionate or have several different types of business, you might even consider creating different bios for your different focuses and switch them out as needed when you participate in different rooms.
You’ll notice there is no line break option when you are writing your bio. That’s ok! Just write your bio in your phone’s Notes, format it, and then copy/paste into your Clubhouse bio (this trick also works on Instagram!)
Speaking of Instagram - your Instagram link is one of two links that is clickable on Clubhouse (the other is your Twitter link).
How to Connect with Someone Off of Clubhouse
Since there is no messaging functionality on Clubhouse, if someone wants to connect or learn more about you - they will be going to your Instagram link or your Twitter link. So this is a great time to update any of the Linktree-like options you are using (I use a page on my website instead of a Linktree - www.gwenmontoya.com/social to keep traffic coming directly to my site) and make sure the content you are posting is aligned with the image you want to present.
If you have a great opt-in or helpful blog post, it makes sense to put that in your Instagram link so Clubhouse listeners can easily find it when you speak and mention it.
Everything I’ve mentioned for updating your Instagram account and bio also applies to your Twitter link. People WILL click on your links, follow you, and reach out if what you’re sharing is interesting.
When you're speaking and engaging with other users, invite them to send you a DM on Instagram to connect further if you have a resource to share or way to help them further.
If you’re participating in Clubhouse make sure you are checking your “Other” messages on Instagram and Facebook so you don’t accidentally miss a chance to connect and collaborate. I’m finding most of the messages I get from Clubhouse members land in the spam folder instead of my regular inbox.
At this point, you’ve set up your Clubhouse bio and linked your social media.
Navigating the Clubhouse Hallway
Once your bio is set up, navigate to the Hallway.
The Clubhouse Hallway is where you can see current Rooms to join, access the events calendar, see your notifications, and view any invites you may have to share.
The calendar is how you can see upcoming events and set reminders so you don’t miss them.
Your options are “All Upcoming” - meaning all upcoming events (likely based on your interests and activity vs. ALL upcoming Rooms on the platform), “Upcoming for You” - meaning upcoming events from Clubs and speakers you follow, and “My Events”- meaning Rooms you are hosting or Events you have saved to attend.
When you find an Event you want to attend, click on the name of the event. This will open dialogue that allows you to share the event, tweet the link, copy the link, or add it to your iCalendar. You can also tap the bell icon to create a reminder that appears on your “My Events” list. If the upcoming event is part of a Club (think Clubhouse’s version of a group), you’ll be invited to follow that Club and be notified when the event starts. If the event is not part of a Club, you’ll be invited to follow all speakers and be notified when they go live.
If you would like to schedule a Room you can do that in the upper right hand corner - look for the calendar icon with the plus sign. There is no waiting period or application process to host a Room, but I recommend attending a few first to see how they work.
Right now, there isn't a way to create re-curing events on Clubhouse, so if you plan to host something weekly, you'll need to create each event individually.
The Hallway is also where you can search for users, clubs, and topics that might be interesting to you. The words used in your bio and any Club you set up are searchable so keep that in mind as you set that up.
You can also let Clubhouse know about the kinds of topics you are interested in from your bio page. Just tap the gear icon in the upper right color and select “Interests” - you can take two approaches here. The first is to click on everything that might be interesting to you so you get a broader understanding of what is available. The other is to be very selective in your interests to help you focus on using the platform in a specific way. It is personal preference and you can also change your interests in the future. I suspect the Clubhouse algorithm also learns what you like from the Rooms you participate in and the people you interact with.
There are two other things you can do in the Hallway that may not be obvious at first.
If you swipe left, you can see the Clubs you are a part of (more on Clubs later) that have an active Room happening. Some of these you’ll see in your main Hallway, too, but depending on how many Clubs you are a part of and how often you interact with them - you likely won’t see all of them in the main Hallway. From this screen you can also see your active followers and invite them to a private Room to chat.
If you swipe right on specific Rooms, you can hide Rooms that aren’t interesting to you. As Clubhouse’s algorithms evolve this will help them understand your preferences and show you more of the kinds of Rooms you are interested in.
Clubhouse Rooms Breakdown
Let’s talk about Clubhouse Rooms and how they work.
From the Hallway, tap on a Room that looks interesting. Don’t worry about choosing the “wrong” one it is easy to leave a Room, and joining and leaving Rooms is not at all disruptive to the Room, audience members, or the moderators.
At the top of the screen you’ll see the name of the Room. Above the Room name you may see slightly smaller text next to a little green house. That means this Room is part of a Club (more on Clubs in a moment). If you tap on the green house you'll be able to view the Club hosting the Room as have an option to join or follow that Club
The names/avatars at the top of the screen are “on stage” and have the ability to speak. Any avatar with a green star next to their name is a moderator.
A Clubhouse moderator has the ability to invite audience members to speak as well as move them back to the audience. A good moderator keeps the conversation on track and makes sure all participants are being heard (up to and including reminding other speakers to share the stage and coax shy speakers to talk).
Only those “on stage” have the option to speak, so don’t worry about anyone hearing you when you are just in the audience listening. However, if you raise your to be invited to the stage, be aware that your microphone is on as soon as you are invited to the stage, so be sure to mute yourself until it is your turn to speak.
A neat way to show that you agree with what a fellow speaker is saying is to tap your microphone on and off rapidly to simulate applause.
Below the “on stage” speakers, you’ll see “Followed by the Speakers” - these are audience members who are followed by the speakers. It isn’t more complicated than that.
Below that is “Others in the Room” - those are people in the general audience.
You can tap on anyone’s avatar (photo) to view their profile (no matter which section they are in within the Room), learn more about them, and go to their social media links without leaving the Room you are in.
In fact, you can even open other apps on your phone without being removed from the Room you are currently in.
At the bottom of your screen you’ll see a couple of options.
On the bottom left is “Leave Quietly” - this is one of the ways you can exit a room (again, leaving a Room won’t impact the Room in any way, so don’t feel as if you need to stay in a Room that isn’t interesting).
You can click “All Rooms” in the upper left corner to return to the Hallway to browse other Rooms without leaving the Room you are currently in. If you tap on another Room while you are in the Hallway, you will leave the Room you are in and go to the new Room you’ve selected. Because there is so much happening in Clubhouse you may not be able to find the Room you were previously in, so be careful when you are browsing other Rooms.
On the bottom right is a hand icon - this is how you signal the moderators that you would like to be invited to the stage to speak. Moderators have the ability to turn this option on and off depending on their needs and goals for the room.
Raising your hand does not automatically mean you’ll be invited to the stage to speak.
Between “Leave Quietly” and “Raise Hand” is a plus sign. You can use this plus sign to “Ping” someone into the Room. This means whoever you Ping gets a notification you have invited them to join the Room.
That’s it. Those are your basic navigation options when you are in a Clubhouse Room. It is incredibly simple, but as I mentioned above, I did feel as if there was a learning curve specifically because it is so simple.
What are Clubs on Clubhouse?
Clubs are Clubhouse’s versions of user interest groups. You can join or follow a group - depending on how the Club’s creators have set it up. Group members may have the option to create Rooms within the group (again, depending on how the creators have set up the group).
Some groups are open to all to join and some are closed.
Once you have joined a group, it is displayed at the bottom of your bio. This makes it easy for you to find your groups and people checking out your bio to see which groups you are in.
Interested in starting a Club on Clubhouse? Go to your bio, tap the gear icon, and then tap the FAQ/Contact Us option. This will take you to the Clubhouse knowledge center where the most up to date instructions can be found.
Followers and following people on Clubhouse
Do I have to follow everyone who follows me?
As a marketing consultant I get this question across all platforms and the answer is always the same. No, you don’t have to follow someone just because they followed you.
If you connect with someone in a Clubhouse Room and want to be notified the next time they speak, tap the bell icon in their bio to be notified.
To wrap up, I’ll share some thoughts and insight I’ve gained from using Clubhouse (all of the following is my opinion as a user and marketing expert):
Who is Clubhouse for?
Clubhouse is for anyone who is interested in learning, growing their network, making connections, finding potential collaborators, and meeting new people. I see a lot of coaches and consultants there, but I’m also seeing all types of people and businesses. Obviously, as a marketing nerd my focus is on how to use Clubhouse as a marketing tool, but that is just one lens.
Sunday Clubhouse has a religious/prayer bent as people interested in those topics create Rooms. I’ve also seen parenting support, book clubs, music appreciation, and even the entire stage musical The Lion King.
How can you use Clubhouse to grow your business?
In my opinion (and experience) - absolutely.
There are two big ways I’m seeing this happen.
The first is by learning and getting insight from marketing and business pros on the platform sharing their knowledge and resources. There is so much knowledge and so many resources being shared in Rooms. I think speakers feel more free to share information because nothing is recorded and it all disappears as soon as the Room closes.
The second is by sharing and connecting yourself. You can do this by creating your own Rooms, raising your hand and speaking in Rooms, or participating as a panelist in Rooms.
Although it can be intimidating to step up to the mic, from my perspective as a speaker, it is liberating to be able to share without worrying about the presentation piece . You don’t have to worry about having great lighting or a good camera - you are simply speaking and connecting. There is also something really unique about the voice to voice aspect because you can hear tone and inflection is a way that is missing in text.
Is Clubhouse worth my time?
It can be!
I'm not one to jump on the latest shiny thing, but I've been surprised by how much I like Clubhouse.
I’ve made some great connections and even found clients through Clubhouse.
But it can also be a huge time suck if you are curious and want to listen to all the neat conversations.
Since nothing is recorded and no two Rooms are the same, the temptation to spend too much time there is real.
So how do you decide if listening in on Clubhouse is worth your time? The same way you decide whether or not to listen to a podcast - is the topic interesting to you? Can you learn from it? Will it give you new insight?
How do you decide if participating on Clubhouse is worth your time? Do you have something of value to add to a conversation? Do you have questions or need feedback on a topic?
How do you decide if you should host a Room or join a panel on Clubhouse? Do you have something useful to share with an audience that is education focused vs. sales focused? Are you interested in collaborating with other experts? Do you have time to answer questions?
Is Clubhouse the next big thing?
I think it might be. (Although I reserve the right to change my mind about it as it grows and develops).
Is Clubhouse the thing that will end Facebook? Probably not.
Will Clubhouse replace podcasts? Definitely not. Podcasts are recorded and available to more people. I don’t see that changing. In fact, I’m using my Clubhouse presence to highlight my Adventures in Marketing podcast.
Is Clubhouse at risk of becoming a platform that is distrusted in the same way Facebook is? Or overrun with disturbing ideology the way Twitter has been in some circles? Absolutely. Any social media platform run by humans runs the risk of mistreating its users and doing shady things.
I am hopeful that Clubhouse’s development team is aware of the pitfalls and is working to minimize them. For example, I’m glad they are taking a strong stance against trolling, but that is just the first step.
There is an accessibility issue that needs to be addressed - there is currently no transcripts available for any of the Rooms - which makes the app unusable for those who need captions to participate. I don’t know what that would look like in the app, but it is a glaring omission.
That said the app is still new and there is always room for growth and improvement (as well as users holding developers accountable to follow through on their goals and statements).
But once Clubhouse is open to Android users and is made fully accessible via captions and other tools? I think it could be very, very big.
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.