It’s been some time since Clubhouse made its big splash in the Brussels Digital Public Affairs scene. We’ve been seeing MEPs, public affairs professionals, and journalists setting up accounts to start engaging on this platform. But what is all the fuss about? Why is it so appealing to the Brussels Digital Public Affairs Bubble? Before we dive into it, let’s have a quick recap!

What is Clubhouse and why is it different?Clubhouse

Clubhouse launched in early 2020 but the hype surrounding the app only exploded in Europe in 2021. It’s an invite-only voice-chat app that lets users join and interact in themed discussion forums.

The speakers run the floor and all listeners are invited to raise their hand to participate (sounds familiar? It’s like your Microsoft Teams meetings, but this is more fun, so keep reading.) You can choose from thousands of different topics that spark your interest and exchange knowledge.

The big question is: Can brands also join the platform? Short answer is yes, however Clubhouse might not be the friendliest place for brands. Users value transparency and prefer to engage with real people and share opinions instead of a brand’s values. This doesn’t mean that brands shouldn’t build a presence on the platform.

Different story for trade associations, NGOs or think tanks who seems to be very much welcomed – at least in the Brussels Bubble – as they promote policy related conversations – highly engaged in the European Capital - and bring added value to the debate.

The app has taken the podcast trend and escalated it to an interactive forum, where you can discuss topics that interest you or engage with the people you might otherwise never be able to reach. To that end, the concept is completely unique. Other social networks are said to be developing audio-chat apps or extension to their existing platforms, however the only one close to catching up is Twitter, with their worldwide release of Twitter Spaces next month.

Why is it so appealing to the Brussels digital public affairs bubble?

Networking and profile building

Since the first wave of downloads in January, the app now counts around 30+ profiles of MEPs; over 100 profiles of Presidents, VPs, PMs, MFAs, and international organisations; and unlimited number of PA/PR professionals.

It’s not just a club limited to a few digital PA geeks anymore. It’s becoming a platform where policy-specific topics can be discussed, information can be shared, and relationships can be established. Isn’t this what we do for living?

Given that the rooms are topic specific, you can choose to join a discussion with likeminded individuals or even start a lively debate with users with opposing views. Like any other social networks, Clubhouse gives users the opportunity to build their own digital persona and become an expert in a specific policy area or topic.   

Community Building

Clubhouse rooms can either be open, social (available to people followed by the moderator) or closed (shared only with a select few). The moderator has the power to decide who they wish to discuss certain topics with and control their own community.

If you want to build your own community, like Digital Diplomacy or EU Matters have done, then you have multiple options.

Any Downsides?

The app is not available on Android yet and access is exclusively limited to invited users. Meaning an existing member needs to send you a link to allow you to join the platform.

… and you guessed right: it’s an American app, and the data protection regulations hardly meet our high European standards. It’s possible for any user to get an external camera or audio recorder to record the conversations as they take place. Although since "speaking freely" is a part of Clubhouse’s selling point, it would be wise to expect some consequences or social media fallback.

Yes?/No?/Maybe?

If you’re thinking: “Oh gosh, does this mean I have to give up Twitter?!”, calm down.

Clubhouse is not a replacement for any other platform, and we’ll probably see Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram develop similar audio discussion forums similar to Clubhouse. The app is still being developed and needs several structural updates, but high-profile users have been increasingly joining, so get on it. We’re quite sure it’s here to stay!

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