January 29, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you’ve been on the internet lately, you’ve probably heard about the elusive, exclusive Clubhouse app. Startup founders, marketers, celebrities and everyone from doctors to teachers are joining in and learning from the people speaking in the different “rooms” on the app.
I recently read about one founder who joined Clubhouse and soon found investors for his company’s latest funding round. It’s clear that there may be a special network effect to the app that makes it attractive to people trapped at home due to the ongoing health crisis. But is it worth the hours you may find yourself devoting to it? And how do you even get an invite?
What is Clubhouse?
Let’s back up a bit and review some Clubhouse basics. It’s the tech world’s latest voice chat social media app. Users follow people, clubs and topics. They join rooms in which friends or people they follow are speaking. You can even “take the mic” yourself and speak, if speakers let you. Drake, Kevin Hart and Oprah are just a few of the first famous users on the app. Once you’re a part of the club, you can listen and potentially participate alongside them.
Clubhouse lets you network, collaborate and make professional connections, but this isn’t just another LinkedIn. Because of the instant verbal communication, connections happen faster than they do on other social media platforms and have a more personal element to them. To me, it feels like listening to radio shows or podcasts, but with people who are already part of my network. In my first weeks on the platform, I reconnected with a long lost friend in New York whom I hadn’t talked to in 10 years, as well as a colleague in Alabama who I’d gotten out of touch with, but who now coaches me on business matters.
In every audio chat room, the moderators rule. When you raise your hand, they decide whether to bring you up on “stage.” They can even turn off the raise hand option all together in order to create a more presentation-like climate. Still, it’s up to you how you connect and with whom. When you’re in a room, you can click the profile of anybody there and see their bio, who and what they follow, as well as their other social profiles.
Why are people so obsessed with Clubhouse?
There are several reasons that the Clubhouse app has gained so much traction. It teaches and inspires users. It lets people meet in the context of mutual interests, and helps them share those interests with their friends in real time. At any one moment you might find a room with people talking about political issues, scaling a startup, Bitcoin or cannabis, to name just a few topics. The platform facilitates human connection, which struck a relevant note during lockdowns worldwide.
But most social media platforms help you engage and connect with others. That’s what they’re made for. What sets Clubhouse apart?
Part of it is psychological: We don’t want to miss out. Clubhouse doesn’t allow private messaging, and it doesn’t record the chats that take place in its rooms. As a result, everything happens then and there and creates serious FOMO for anybody who isn’t listening. People stay on for long periods because they don’t want to miss a minute.
This structure makes people feel like they’re part of, well, a club. Everything is based on invitation — people discover rooms and clubs within the app by being invited to that particular space by their friends. Then, once you enter a room, you must be invited to speak. Most importantly, you have to be invited to join the app in the first place, and scoring an invite may prove difficult, depending on your network.
How to get an invite to Clubhouse
This isn’t always easy. There are barriers to entry both big and small. The first one is that you have to be an iPhone user, because you can literally only access the app on iOS. Although a lot of us meet that metric these days (sorry, Androids), it doesn’t mean just anybody can then get access to the Clubhouse app. There are only two ways to do it and both involve connections with people who are already users.
The way to get on the Clubhouse app is through a personal invitation from a current user (though there is one tiny loophole, which I’ll unpack in a bit). This might seem simple, but each user is only allowed to send out two invitations when they sign up, so unless you’re really part of that user’s inner circle, you’re most likely out of luck.
The more someone uses the app (moderating rooms, speaking in rooms, etc.) the more invites they get to give out. As a result, it’s the most involved people who get to determine who joins the app. To get a Clubhouse invite, you not only have to know someone on the app already, but most of the time you have to know someone very active and influential there. And unfortunately, not all of us have Ashton Kutcher on speed dial.
The power of social media
It might sound difficult to score that invite if you’re not a big-deal activist or a Hollywood celebrity, but like anything else, there’s a way around this barrier. If you’re really dying to get on Clubhouse and you don’t have any direct personal connections, it might be wise to ask for an invite on other social media such as Twitter and Instagram. You might just have someone in your social network with an invitation to spare. But even if you don’t, posting your plea on a public account with the hashtag #Clubhouse might just grab the attention of an active user who can get you in.
The elusive back-door entrance
There is another way to get invited to the Clubhouse that doesn’t actually require an invitation, but it might be even more exclusive than getting invited in the first place. When you visit the Clubhouse website, you’re given the option to reserve a username. If you have a lot of friends on the Clubhouse app, they might receive a notification that you downloaded the app and made a username (this depends on their notification settings and their app activity).
At this point, they can waive you through and give you access to the app even if they don’t have an invitation to spare. This might be the best way to get “invited” if you have a lot of contacts on the app, but fewer who are extremely active in the community.
Worth the wait?
It might take a while to get invited to Clubhouse. Unless you catch a lucky break or are already connected with all the “right”people, you’ll have to wait patiently for others in your network (personal or social media) to get more involved so they can include you too. You might be wondering whether or not it’s worth the trouble.
In short: Yes, yes it is. It gives you the opportunity to connect and converse with some of society’s most influential people from artists to venture capitalists. Once you’re in, your world might just up even more, so keep searching for that invite.