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What Made Clubhouse App Popular – Is it a Success or a Failure?

Soon after its launch, people loved the exclusive, invite-only, audio-based iPhone chat app that was like listening to someone else's phone call but in a legal way. Elon Musk and Bill Gates popped up in a Clubhouse room and drew more users to the app in 2021.

Some users compare Clubhouse social audio app to attending a virtual conference, except they don't have to travel or be seen. The voice-only app feels nuanced and emotive, according to them, and allows them to have more honest conversations.

Twitter valued the social audio app at $4 billion, and everything seemed to be going the Clubhouse way. Today, it’s being called a failure story by some – much like the highly-talked-about startups that fizzle out soon, but there might be some spark left that might help it to rise again.

With 10 million weekly active users, it’s still being hailed as one of the successful models in social media by many. But in reality, Clubhouse is struggling to live up to the hype it once created. Let us take a look at the factors that led to its massive success in a quick time and what the future holds for it.

clubhouse application founders Rohan Seth Paul Davison

Clubhouse provided a new social audio app experience

Clubhouse founders, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison and ex-Google, Rohan Seth, say on the company blog that their goal was to build a social experience that felt more human. Instead of posting, people could gather with other people and talk. They wanted people to close the app after a conversation feeling that they had met new people, learned and deepened friendships.

With the popular new social audio app becoming the master of a new domain, the domain extension .club has become popular. This shows how companies can leverage up-and-coming channels, like Clubhouse, alongside traditional digital channels for digital marketing.

Chats on Clubhouse often go on for hours, and there are many different types of conversations, from casual ones between friends to more formal talk show-style ones.

According to App Annie, the Clubhouse app reached 8 million downloads by February 2021 and appearances by well-known figures like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have helped it to exceed 2.6 million downloads in the US.

The feeling of being in a podcast

On Clubhouse, there are no videos, posts, pictures or DMs. Each user has a profile picture and a voice. Any iPhone user can download the app but requires an existing Clubhouse user's invitation to get access.

The app gives the feeling of listening to a podcast, and users can follow topics such as sports, politics, technology, music and any other topic one can imagine. Rooms can have as few as two people in them or a few thousand. The more people and topics they follow, the more likely they are to receive suggestions for a room that suits their preferences.

The host and moderators in the room control who can speak and when. Audience members can use the "raise your hand" function to join the virtual stage panel and speak.

Celebrities on Clubhouse app

If someone, specifically a billionaire, drops into a room, the room moderator can put the person on the "stage" as a speaker. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, were investors in Clubhouse, and they were early users.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once spoke about his preference for an Android app (it was initially available only on the App Store) in an audio-only interview via the Clubhouse app. The company soon said that an Android app was on the way. Other celebrities who used Clubhouse were Tiffany Haddish, Oprah Winfrey, Drake and Ken Hart. This created a buzz around the platform. With time, most of these celebrities have become inactive on the app.

Elon Musk conversation breaks the room limit

Elon Musk dropped in on a Clubhouse room and talked on topics ranging from crypto, space travel, Covid-19 vaccines, colonies on Mars and AI. In the last quarter of his interview, he brought in Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, to cover Wall Street's GameStop trading saga.

There were more than 5,000 people in the room, breaking the limit per room. Users started live-streaming the conversation on YouTube, which is one way to record what's said. Musk later tweeted that he would try to get Vladimir Putin and Kanye West on the app. Downloads of the app went over eight million after Musk's appearance.

Clubhouse app future plans

Currently, the app is not as popular as it used to be. Social media pundits saw it as the next big thing, maybe as big as Facebook or Instagram, but it has not delivered highly. The app is currently not making any money. Still, the experts state the reason behind it to be the 'staying power' model adopted by Mark Zuckerberg after acquiring Instagram when it focused only on gaining users.

Zuckerberg, the Meta man, known for copying popular ideas and launching them as fresh modules or features on his existing platforms, launched a similar app, 'Hotline’ in 2021. The hotline idea sank without a trace while Clubhouse lives on. It might not have become the next big thing in social media, but its idea is unique, and its loyalists still love it.

The future of the Clubhouse app depends on its willingness to make a strong comeback and create more loyal users, which seems to be a difficult task right now. Going by some other statistics like the number of users added to initial numbers, a drop in interest over time as seen on Google Trends and a fall in internet search queries related to the Clubhouse App, a comeback from the app is a difficult task. To know more about why it failed and if it can again witness a similar level of popularity as in its heyday, read this article by Sara Mccord, the popular marketing strategist and communications CEO.

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