Dying of success? The Clubhouse case

It takes an awful lot to launch a successful app.

In fact, it is most likely to die along the way.

There are many people who try and very, very few manage to stand out and become, quite simply, sustainable.

But what is more curious is that an application that achieves the necessary relevance, that manages to be on all the front pages, on everyone’s lips in just a few months, then disappears just like that.

Let’s see, I don’t think it has disappeared completely. But for all intents and purposes it might as well have.

I’m talking about Clubhouse.

A new application that exploded earlier this year. An audio meeting room system.

Something different from what’s been around so far.

It allows anyone to set up their own radio channel.

And be able to offer it worldwide.

Live content, which was created and, if you weren’t there at the time, you missed it. Ephemeral they call it.

Content, therefore, is easy to create and easy to consume.

Launched with a clever marketing campaign.

Access by invitation only.

That means growth will be quite staggered.

Good for the creator. This way you can react to problems and adjust to developments.

In fact, some users were reported to have paid over $1000 for an invitation.

I’m a big consumer of podcasts. Other audio content.

The fact that it’s audio opens up a lot of possibilities that video or written content doesn’t: I can consume it while I’m doing other things. While I drive and while I walk the dog (or the dog walks me).

But there is a very important difference. Actually two. Or even three.

A podcast has a clear meaning. It has a title and someone plans and creates it to explain something specific. If I’m interested, I listen to it. If not, I ignore it. Clubhouse sessions are usually more open.

On the other hand, you listen to the podcast when it suits you. Clubhouse, on the other hand, is live. You’re either there or you miss it. It creates a dependency on the clock that I can’t always afford. Which on the other hand ensures that everyone who participates is really there at that moment and that opens the door to other possibilities.

And in a podcast only the presenter or maybe the interviewee speaks. In Clubhouse anyone in the audience can be invited to participate.

I had heard about it, but I hadn’t tried it yet.

I actually got my invitation and had it installed, but hadn’t spent time exploring it.

Consequences of the hype that its launch was creating. Every day dozens of social networks or platforms are launched and it is impossible to be attentive to all of them.

But a few months ago I was invited to give a presentation at UBE Academy and, as an experiment and for the first time, they decided that, after the presentation, they would open the new Clubhouse channel to be able to chat live with the audience.

They could ask questions about the topic of the talk.

And it was simple. Technically no problem. There was participation and we were able to interact and solve doubts.

I was able to get feedback at the time of the presentation, which was great!

From there I did spend a few days exploring Clubhouse.

I logged on to certain sessions. I signed up for planned sessions. There were all kinds.

A lot of times I would sign up, but then I wouldn’t make it in time to be able to attend when the time came. It was a live thing.

I was also zapping.

I felt like a voyeur, entering in the middle of conversations that I didn’t even know what they were about (beyond the title) or where they were at.

I would listen for 5 minutes and leave.


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There were also people who had scheduled one, two, three sessions a day with exactly the same title.

I don’t know if they were repetitions of the same thing or simply continuations of a theme.

In one case or the other, the truth is that I found it unappealing. There is no point in listening to the same thing several times or catching a presentation of many hours in the middle without having listened to it from the beginning.

So I turned it off.

And in the same way I think it has happened to many people.

It’s not that the application didn’t have great potential.

But the content that was generated was not valuable enough for the listener.

It’s true that, shortly after Clubhouse was launched, and given the repercussions it was having, all the big players appeared trying to exploit the same market.

Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Telegram, Slack and even Spotify announced that they were going to incorporate functionalities almost identical to those of Clubhouse.

They weren’t going to let a newcomer take away the attention of “their” people.

But I don’t think that’s the reason for the decline. 

In fact, even though these “big guys” have launched these functionalities, no one has invited me to participate in them.

They are there as an option. But they haven’t made any noise. They haven’t changed anything.

Nothing.

I am not aware that they are being used as a communication channel as Clubhouse was designed.

I think the problem is that the content generators saw this as a virgin land to occupy.

It was a world to be colonised and you had to be first and occupy as much space as possible as soon as possible.

It didn’t matter with what. It didn’t matter if the content was of value or quality.

The only important thing, as in any social network, was to be first.

And in practice this filled people’s available space, or in this case time, with content of little value.

Irrelevant to most people.

So, when someone new came to Clubhouse and explored it, they saw nothing interesting.

Experts, semi-experts and alleged-experts talking about any topic.

Usually people who had a lot of free time to spend on that channel.

Instead of their business.

Filling the hours with content that could be summed up in minutes.

So they stopped betting on it. The platform ceased to be attractive. First for the newcomers and, as the audience fell, for the first occupying invaders.

Today, one of those creators who used to organise 3 sessions a day has already published the last one 4 weeks ago.

If you are creating a platform, a website, a social network, anything that relies on user-generated content, you now have one more thing to consider: how do you protect yourself from user abuse?

Keep in mind that the value of your platform is directly related to the quality of the content your users generate.

And if you are a user who contributes content to one of those platforms, you need to question which platforms you should be on.

Platforms, and especially social networks, are looking to take advantage of us. And we must be smart enough to take advantage of them.

If it’s not win-win, it’s not in our interest to invest our time. 

There will be cases where you can bet on a new option that has just arrived. Just in case. Just in case it is the next Mecca for users.

But we must be very attentive to its evolution and always, always, always assess whether what it brings us justifies the effort we are making.

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