Clubhouse: All About Exclusivity
With Instagram and TikTok ruling the world of social media and easy global communication, a new player entered the arena. Clubhouse is an audio-podcast app launched in March 2020 in which users can create conversation rooms. This is one of the major distinctiveness from other audio applications. Unlike having a handful of users create podcasts and let listeners join in, Clubhouse let any users create conversations, where users can have business conferences, talk about Bitcoin, have intimate phone calls, or even talk about plants (Ortutay & Liedtke, 2021). When I joined Clubhouse in the early 2021, I remember seeing conversation rooms like “how to pet dogs,” “practice speaking English and Chinese with us,” “You believe in Christ,” etc. Simply put, Clubhouse is an online speakeasy that welcomes any type of conversations.
Clubhouse is clearly different from other popular social media platforms with one single factor: invite-only sign up. In the very beginning, the original members received two invitations. Although it’s now up to five, this invite-only system made using Clubhouse extremely difficult (Ortutay & Liedtke, 2021). Such exclusivity helped the app ecosystem to feel “much like a real-world club membership,” inducing users to feel special and even gifted (Griffith, 2021). Now, everyone who has an iPhone or an Android-running smartphone can download the app and access the ecosystem right away.
Invite-only service could be seen even before Clubhouse’s launch. Google Inbox, OnePlus, Ello, Amazon’s Echo, and the famous online dating service, the League, all demanded invite-only system, adding exclusivity to their services and inducing users to feel special while using them (Parker, 2015).
Clubhouse launched to the public amid the beginning of Covid-19 global pandemic. Let’s turn the clock back to March of 2020. Major cities around the world were locked down, semi-forcing everyone to quarantine themselves. Such drastic change to many’s lifestyle created the desperate urge to interconnect with one another to maintain social relationships in play. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other already-popular social media platforms provided enough opportunities to connect with others globally. But, Covid-19 brought an immense change to lifestyles of many, and it is reasonably to argue that people wanted a change in how they connect with others. Clubhouse seized this opportunity. New way for the general public to entertain themselves, keeping in touch with others, virtually keeping up with all the updates and how people are doing .
Several Clubhouse affiliates claimed that such invite-only access was an “important part of [its’] early history,” allowing the team to “keep things from breaking as [they]’ve scaled” (Carman, 2021). I say this is not the sole reason. One of the most instinctive components that is shared by the general public is “having the desire to belong to a group or groups.” On top of this, as mentioned above, people crave to connect with others and keep updated with whatever is happening around them. Clubhouse turned such basic instincts into special traits that only selected individuals could indulge. With the increasing desire to belong and connect corresponding to the rising intensity of the global pandemic, everyone started talking about Clubhouse and its exclusivity, feeling the need to join the service and be one of the “special” individuals who can enter into or start any type of conversation room and connect with other special individuals. Clubhouse became a huge hit as soon as it launched. With this being said, I say Clubhouse founders utilized this concept as a leading marketing strategy to make the general public to keep on talking about the service and pool as many individuals as their potential customers. And by slowly expanding two invitations to five invitations and eventually opening the app to everyone, Clubhouse successfully swallowed an unbelievable number of users in a short period of time.
Additionally, Clubhouse was originally opened to only iPhone users, further increasing its exclusivity. The concept of desperately wanting to belong was aroused among the Android users, making Clubhouse-related talks even more popular. As of May 9, 2021, Clubhouse finally opened up to Android users (Singh, 2021). This means for more than a year, Clubhouse did not allow Android players to even have a chance to join the arena, successfully maintaining Clubhouse as a hot topic for a long period time, piquing Android users’ interest, gradually having them as potential customers, and finally accepting them as users.
With an increasing desire to do something, it’s difficult for an idea to leave the head. Clubhouse knew this psychology. Although Clubhouse is not “the thing” anymore, it received a market valuation of $4 billion in mid 2021 (Singh, 2021). Well played.
Carman, A. (2021, July 21). Clubhouse is no longer invite-only. The Verge. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.theverge.com/2021/7/21/22586845/clubhouse-open-beta-inviteaccess-android-ios.
Griffith, E. (2021, October 15). What is clubhouse? the audio-only chat app explained. PCMag. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/what-is-clubhouse-app.
Ortutay, B., & Liedtke, M. (2021, February 11). Explainer: What is clubhouse, the Buzzy New Audio Chat App? AP NEWS. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://apnews.com/ article/what-is-clubhouse-explained-075aa71e61938bd7a1a7374574a424a5.
Parker, M. (2015, February 27). Invite-only websites and apps. DuJour. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://dujour.com/lifestyle/invite-only-membership-apps-websites/.
Singh, M. (2021, May 9). Clubhouse finally launches its Android app. TechCrunch. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/09/clubhouse-android-app-launch/.
Mishra, Y. (2021, May 10). Clubhouse app is now available for Android users. Huawei Central. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.huaweicentral.com/clubhouse-is-now-availablefor-android-users/.