Opinion: Making the Best Out of Clubhouse

By Hadi Ismanto
19th March 2021
Criticisms aside, our founder Hadi Ismanto contends that Clubhouse is a great platform. But it is up to its users to make the best out of the app’s true purpose and functions while claiming authority and responsibility when the room calls for it.

With the rapid development of social media trends and platforms, do we need to be on board for every single one of them to remain relevant? Beyond having social currency, do we also need to keep pace with our audience’s touchpoint to ensure the relevance of our business? Yes, the urge to keep up is real. But sometimes, switching our preferred nature of communication to high-engagement, humour-centric platforms—like TikTok, for example—does not always translate, especially when they’re not on-brand with one’s business nature or persona. Then comes Clubhouse, thank God for Clubhouse. 

With the wave of Clubhouse arriving in Indonesia not long ago, the adoption curve has been nothing but astounding, albeit predictable. Early users, such as myself, got to enjoy its early days when the number of Indonesian users was still limited and made it easy to get acquainted with other influential individuals in their own field. 

What’s so great about it, you may ask? Other than connecting people with prominent industry leaders and shakers via voice interaction, Clubhouse notably works on an invite-only membership. It tries to mimic the literal rules and interaction of a social club where your membership has to be nominated or approved by any existing member. While I am not saying that this is a fool-proof method, it does help ensure that any elements within the app accurately represent an actual person instead of a random bot or business pages.

In a recent New York Times article, the arrival of the platform has been claimed to give birth to a new era of audio creators. While visual cues are great in their own way, I believe the platform’s biggest strength is its utilisation of voice, an element that is authentic, intimate and drawn straight from its direct source. Just like what this quote in the article foresees, “Clubhouse will create the most powerful and impactful influencers of our time because the voice is the most powerful tool to communicate what people have.”

But as with any social media platform, Clubhouse’s experience will only be as great as the users in it and it is within our control to truly harness the app’s purpose and functions. I have personally seen (like anything new and trendy in this country) both increasingly creative and high-impactful rooms that inspire. Yet at the same time, ‘the more the merrier’ kind of rooms are catching on in popularity—when the sessions get real messy, these are the kind of instances that bore and annoy me. Everyone can speak and initiate any conversation, and that’s free speech for you. But when it happens in the public and real-time domain, claiming a level of responsibility is vital.

As a speaker, we owe it to fellow speakers and listeners by respecting their attention and their time. As a moderator, we owe it to the whole room by making sure that the conversation remains interesting and on topic, while giving the attention they [speakers] rightfully deserve. In occasions where someone on stage gets domineering and doesn’t maintain decorum, politely intervene – these are both the responsibilities and rights that a moderator possesses. Exercise them. 

In my 15 years of experience in hosting events, I learned that a great moderator is someone who can make even the most difficult or uninteresting speakers shine. More than keeping everything in line, moderators also need to be sensitive and attentive to both the speaker’s and the audience’s needs by asking the right questions, gearing the conversation where both parties can leave with meaningful food for thought. On Clubhouse, this shouldn’t be any different. 

A friend asked me what I really think about the app two weeks after I first installed it, and this is what I said to him: “The people that will thrive on this type of platform are the ones that have genuine ideas and can further democratise them.” Because truly great ideas—whether it be motivational, educational or purely entertainment—can travel to make a real impact when expressed and executed properly. Taking everything into account, this is how I believe the community can reap the benefits of the platform’s true purpose. 

To reflect, the last 5 weeks of “clubbing” have been a great experience. But with more users coming and the second-wave for Android users soon arriving, we can only speculate where this is leading. What kind of individuals will dominate on Clubhouse? How will the monetisation of content and creators play out here? More importantly, how will Clubhouse maintain quality conversations and interactions? These are the questions that will confront sooner or later. Whatever path it may take, it is the early community’s privilege and responsibility to make the best out of this platform, ensuring that Clubhouse will continue to progress healthy and rewarding conversations for the communities here. 

This is Hadi and this is my two cents. *mute*