In the last month or so I’ve had the pleasure of moderating and participating in a number of data-related conversations on Clubhouse. Clubhouse is still relatively new so before I go on, first let me explain what it’s all about.

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is a social networking app based on audio-chat. Users can listen-in to conversations, interviews and discussions between other members on topics that interest them. It’s a bit like tuning in to a live podcast recording but unlike a podcast, you can contribute to the conversation. Also, everything happens live and nothing is recorded; put simply, you either listen or participate live or you miss out.

On Clubhouse the focus is very much on dialogue and connection, unlike other social apps which focus on likes or followers. The only way to communicate with others on Clubhouse is by audio-chat. There are no DM’s or traditional (written) chat features and there is no way of liking any content either. Everything is very much experienced ‘in the moment’.

How did it start?

Clubhouse has been around since March 2020, when it was launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth. In May 2020, it had just 1,500 users and was worth around $100m. Fast forward to February 2021, Clubhouse is estimated to have around 2 million users and, having raised new funding since it’s launch, is now valued at $1bn!

How can you join?

Clubhouse is still in beta stage and access is currently by invitation only. Unlike other social platforms, you can’t just sign up and dive right in. The creators have announced that they hope to complete the beta this year, so they can eventually “open up Clubhouse to the whole world” but right now, you’ll need to receive a personalised invite from someone already on the platform before you can join. Once you receive an invite, you’ll be prompted to download the app and get started. After you join, you are issued with two invites which you can share with whoever you wish. The more people you invite and the more you engage on Clubhouse, the more invites you will receive. It is possible to reserve your username via the app before receiving an invite. However, you won’t be able to proceed past this point without an invite.

It’s worth noting that Clubhouse only works on iOS at the moment too. Before you invite anyone on, it’s best to first check if they are on iOS. Invites are issued via SMS to a specified phone number but if you send an invite to someone on Android, they won’t be able to accept it (yet it still counts as a ‘used’ invite from a user perspective). Some users have been able to sign up using an iPad but they will still need a phone to receive the SMS message. I understand Clubhouse are working on an Android version so watch this space!

Who’s it for?

Clubhouse is for everyone! If you enjoy public speaking it’s a great way to practice and meet new people. Likewise, if you prefer to lurk in the background it’s perfect for you too. There is no requirement to actually ‘speak’ in a room on Clubhouse but I would recommend you give it a try, if you feel comfortable doing so. Even if you prefer to stay quiet, you can learn a lot just by listening to conversations. Over the past few weeks, I’ve joined rooms on a wide variety of topics and I must say, I’ve learnt a lot! I’ve joined rooms on data-related topics but also conversations on public speaking, tips to improve your Linkedin portfolio, UX design, leadership and much more. The variety of rooms is endless! Clubhouse has introduced me to a whole new community beyond the Twitter datasphere so it’s really exciting to be able to meet, share and learn from a new audience.

How does it work?

Clubhouse is made up of rooms and clubs:

Rooms

Once you’re in the app, you can join any (chat) room you wish. You can even start your own room! Rooms can operate either independently, or as part of a ‘Club’. The rooms you see initially in your ‘hallway’ are ones that are ‘live’ at the present moment. Each room has a title that describes the topic being discussed, plus you’ll be able to see if anyone you follow is in any of the ‘live’ rooms by glancing at the short list of names below each room name. There are also scheduled events (rooms) with pre-arranged speakers which can be found in the app’s events calendar. You can add these to your calendar and be reminded when they are about to start. Likewise, you can schedule rooms for the future too. All of the times displayed in the app are the times in your timezone. The rooms you see in your ‘hallway’ are determined by who you follow and the clubs you are a part of. If you are seeing rooms that don’t interest you in your hallway, seek out new clubs and people to follow with who you share similar interests. There are many more rooms out there.

Clubs

While rooms are temporary, one-time places for conversation, clubs are permanent spaces which people can join and get notified about every room started by the club. You can search for clubs using the magnifying glass. Clubs are centred around a specific area of interest, purpose or cause. There are clubs on every topic you can imagine; everything from tech to entertainment, sports, arts, wellness, dating or clubs for people who simply want to ‘hang out’. Most clubs will have a description to tell you what they are all about and what to expect from their conversations. The benefit of hosting a room attached to a club is that everyone in the club will be notified when a new room is underway, not just followers of the people in the room. This means that rooms hosted by clubs have the potential to reach a much wider audience than rooms run independently, which people may struggle to find. Once you join clubs, you’ll see any rooms they are hosting listed in your room feed. Also, any clubs you join will be shown at the bottom of your profile page and will be visible to others.

Joining and Participating in a Room

Simply click on a room to join it. The room window is split into 3 sections; the first section is the stage area (the people who are actively speaking), the second section are people in the room who you follow and the third section is everyone else in the room ‘listening in’. If the room is part of a club, the club name will be listed above the room title, next to the green ‘Monopoly’ house.

You can join a room at any point; you don’t need to be there from the beginning. Upon joining a room, nobody can hear you (at first I thought they could)! If the room allows it, you can raise your hand to be invited ‘to the stage’ to speak. This is how you can actually contribute to the conversation. Your request to speak has to first be approved by a room moderator (the speakers with a green star icon next to their name). If there are already lots of speakers on stage, or if the room is particularly busy, moderators may disable new speaker requests. If your request is accepted, you’ll be moved up to the upper ‘stage’ section. It’s Clubhouse etiquette that you don’t unmute your mic until you are asked to speak. Often there is a speaker queuing system so it’s always best to wait your turn. A room full of people speaking at the same time may sound like chaos but in reality, the moderators do a good job of managing the speakers and flow so there is only ever one person speaking at a time. Once you have finished speaking you have the option of either staying ‘on stage’ on mute and contributing to the conversation when it feels right to do so, or you can step down and remain within the audience.

If you wish to leave a room, simply click the “Leave Quietly” button at the bottom of the screen.

Tips for Getting Started

If you are new to Clubhouse, here are a few tips to help you get started smoothly:

  1. Add an insightful bio – Your bio plays a significant role in letting others know who you are and what you do. Unlike other social media platforms, you can’t show much about yourself other than in your bio. If you want to gain more followers, make sure you have a good bio that should give others an idea of your interests, expertise, and profession. The top 3 lines of your bio are the most visible so use this space to tell your followers who you are and what you are all about. Use emojis and short bullet points to help break up your bio and make it easy to read. In your bio, there is space for you to add links to your Twitter and Instagram profiles. However, you can also add links to your website, Linkedin or any other social platforms in the bio text itself. If you are unsure, check the bios of people you follow. You can even join rooms that offer ‘bio reviews’ where you can receive tips on how to make your bio more effective. Please note bios are searchable so include any keywords or emojis in your bio which may help people to find you.
  2. Plan in advance and join rooms from the beginning – Rather than jumping onto Clubhouse at ad-hoc moments throughout the day, it’s best to plan your time on the platform around scheduled rooms. That way, you are more likely to be able to join rooms that interest you. It’s best to browse Clubhouse either on the hour or half-past the hour as this is when most rooms are scheduled to start. Joining rooms as they open up is beneficial as you’ll have more chance of being invited onto the stage and you’ll be involved in the conversation from the beginning.
  3. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and speak – The best rooms have rich conversation from a wide range of voices. Don’t be afraid to contribute to conversations, offer your opinions or seek advice. Everyone has something to offer and the great thing about Clubhouse is the broad range of people from different backgrounds and experiences. Just remember to be polite and follow the speaker etiquette. Most rooms will state how they want you to introduce yourself; perhaps by providing a 30-second introduction and stating your pronouns. Also, it’s common to let others know when you have finished speaking so you can make way from somebody else to contribute to the conversation.
  4. Be prepared to make notes – People share a lot of valuable information on Clubhouse. Have a notepad handy to make a note of any useful information shared! Conversations aren’t recorded so remember, you won’t be able to listen back later!

If you have any other questions about Clubhouse, I would recommend checking out Abraxas Higgins website, www.abraxas.club. Abraxas has a helpful Clubhouse Q&A section on his website. Abraxas also moderates regular ‘Welcome to Clubhouse’ rooms as part of the Social Society (club). The welcome rooms are incredibly helpful and will walk you through everything you need to know about the Clubhouse platform. You also have the opportunity to ask questions in these rooms.

My Clubhouse Journey So Far…..

I was invited to Clubhouse by my friend and fellow Tableau Zen Master, Abisola Oni. ‘Abby’ suggested we run some #datafam rooms on Clubhouse and convinced me to get involved too. She had previously joined some other Clubhouse rooms and had noticed there were many early career professionals on the platform so thought it might be a good way to share our advice and help people on their data journey.

We moderated our first ‘room’ on the 28th January 2021, entitled “So you want to get into Data Visualization?”. This was my first-ever Clubhouse room and Abby’s first time moderating so we had to learn quickly! We shared the details on Twitter before the event so we were able to get a few familiar faces from the #datafam involved too. We were fortunate to be able to host this room as part of the ‘Careers in Tech and Data Science (CTDS)’ club. This meant that our room was shared with all of their 5.3k members too. This room was targeted at people looking to get started in data visualisation, regardless of tool. We had a great conversation and heard from people from different backgrounds with different experiences of data visualisation. It was great to be able to share our advice and we made some great connections with people both on and off of Clubhouse as a result of this room.

We hosted our second room on 4th February and having received a lot of questions about Tableau Public during our previous room, we decided to make this one all about Tableau Public! We invited several people from the Clubhouse #datafam community to join us too (we knew we wouldn’t be able to get everyone but we wanted to hear from other Tableau Public authors and their experiences). In this room we heard the benefits of building up a data viz portfolio on Tableau Public, both from the perspective of the vizzer, and also the recruiter. It was a great discussion with lots of knowledge shared.

Our most recent room was hosted on the 19th of February and this time we focused our conversations around #dataviz community projects. Again, these have come up in conversation in our previous two rooms so we thought it would be good to dedicate a whole room just to community projects and what they are all about. We invited more #datafam friends to join the discussion and share their experiences. It was great to hear lots of different people share their experiences with community projects too.

Thank you to everyone who has joined one of our rooms! It’s been great to see so many familiar faces on Clubhouse and it’s also been a great way to connect with new members of the data community.

Some people have asked, “how can you talk about data vizzes on an exclusively audio-based platform?”. It’s a valid question but so far, our conversations have been much more focused on career development and getting involved in the community, rather than on specific vizzes. For anyone in the Tableau Community, Clubhouse is comparable to ‘Braindates’ in the sense that conversations can be planned in advance, are open to anyone and communication is exclusively by voice (and video in the case of Braindates). We could potentially look to discuss vizzes in future but it would require a way of easily sharing a link to what we’re looking at with other room participants. At the moment, that would be difficult.

In an effort to share resources with people in the room we have been adding any relevant links to our Clubhouse bio and also sharing details on Twitter after the event. We’ve seen other rooms populate Google Sheets with useful links and share them after the room closes too.

What’s Next?

Abby and I put in an application for a new club back in January but unfortunately, we are still waiting for this to be approved by the Clubhouse team. In the meantime, we’ll continue to host rooms as part of the ‘Careers in Tech and Data Science (CTDS)’ club (thank you to the club owners for continuing to let us use their platform). We have more talk topics planned and will be sharing the details of any upcoming clubs on Twitter.

It’s worth noting that there are lots of other data clubs on Clubhouse too. The ‘Data Viz and Presentation’ club is a great club run by Hana Khan which I highly recommend checking out! There are also clubs focused on data science, women in tech and many more too.

Getting Involved

We would love to welcome more of the #datafam community to Clubhouse! If you are an iOS user and would like an invite, we might be able to help (no guarantees as we are only issued with a very limited number of invites and there will be times when we don’t have any available to share). Feel free to reach out to us and ask. However, the best approach would be to reach out to the #datafam on Twitter to see if anyone has a spare invite. To help grow the data community on the platform, try sharing your invites with other members of the #datafam too. We can’t grow the membership base by ourselves.

Once you join Clubhouse, give us a follow and get involved! We’ll share details in advance of any rooms we are moderating, both on Clubhouse and on Twitter and Linkedin. We would love to see you in one of our rooms soon! If you have any room topic suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading.