Clubhouse has added another way for users to engage in the conversation in each room, with a new text chat option that will run in complement to the main audio discussion in each session.
As you can see in this example, posted by user Michael Sterling, Clubhouse’s chat option is a pretty straightforward text stream, which all listeners can contribute to, expanding the input potential beyond just those chosen to speak. Clubhouse also added a private chat option in July last year, but this is a more open discussion, so that any attendee can add their thoughts.
As explained by Clubhouse:
“Today we’re introducing in-room chat which will allow users - from the mods to the listeners in the audience - to communicate with each other via text during a live room. Don’t want to miss your moment to share a killer joke? Want to put in a song request? Want to react with an emoji? You can now drop it in the in-room chat.”
The idea is that this will help to get more people involved in the conversation, particularly those who might like to contribute, but don’t want to take the mic. If Clubhouse can get more people involved, that’s better for building community – but at the same time, opening up a free-for-all in the comments could also be problematic, as other live-stream platforms have found in the past.
Indeed, even within the first hours of going live with the function, reports indicated potential issues with spam and offensive comments. Which is why it’s important that room hosts have control over the option, which Clubhouse has built in, along with various other safety tools.
The main functional point here is that creators can decide if text chat is enabled or not within their room, and they can switch it off at any time during the broadcast. Hosts can also delete any message posted by anyone during the session, as well as after the room ends, with the text chat also viewable within the replay (though replay listeners cannot contribute further comments).
Contributors will also be able to edit and delete their own comments in-stream, while users can also report any offensive or harmful comments by long pressing on the offending remark and tapping ‘Report’.
If chats are enabled in a Clubhouse session, you’ll see a new chat icon in the bottom left of screen, next to the ‘Share’ and ‘Clip’ icons.
As noted, various live-stream platforms already provide similar text chat options available, so it’s not a major functional leap forward. But it does add something more to the Clubhouse engagement process, which could help it boost engagement among more passive audience members (i.e. lurkers).
As you can see in this chart, as downloads of the app slowed in the North and Latin America (NALA) region in the middle of last year, its growth in APAC more than made up for it. It hasn’t maintained those same download numbers throughout, but Clubhouse did report that its app was downloaded 2.6 million times in December, up significantly on the preceding month.
Clubhouse could hold particular value in the Indian region, with the Indian Government continually working to limit and even restrict certain types of speech in social apps in order to quell anti-government sentiment.
When the conversation’s happening in real time, however, that’s not really possible – which could, of course, also put Clubhouse on a collision course with local regulators at some stage.
But right now, it’s working in the app’s favor, with Clubhouse now being used by millions of Indians every week (Clubhouse hasn’t published any recent updates on total usage, but back in October, the app had been downloaded 6 million times in the region, and was being used by more than two million people).
That could well present significant opportunity, even if it isn’t a daily habit for as many western users as it once was, and if Clubhouse can further establish its niche, it could still remain a key consideration for many moving forward.
In-room chat is rolling out from today on iOS and Android.