How Can Designers Benefit from Clubhouse?
Amanda Schneider, president of ThinkLab, shares how this exclusive, audio-only social media app could shake up the interiors industry.
In his new book Think Again Adam Grant shares that in the past it was crucial to think faster than your competitor; but today, he says, it’s rethinking and unlearning what we’ve always known to be true that gives us a competitive advantage. With the accelerating pace of change, the book is an inspiring invitation to let go of entrenched views and processes and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom. This is where Clubhouse comes in.
What is Clubhouse?
Haven’t heard of it? Per the New York Times, it’s the newest, buzziest, audio-only social media platform. It’s like a podcast that you can interact with live. And, because it’s currently invite-only and generally not recorded for playback, it creates a great deal of FOMO. Although it’s been around for a little over a year, due to recent celebrity adoption and our culture’s recent starvation for connection amidst COVID-19 lockdowns, the platform went from 3.5 million downloads as of February 1, 2021, to 8.1 million by Feb 16. While other social media platforms, like TikTok, have seen similar exponential growth during COVID-19, Clubhouse, in my humble opinion, has great professional appeal.
Why should I care?
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Do I really need another social media platform? I thought the same thing. But hear me out: We can’t write inspired songs if we are all listening to the same radio stations. And, in the last year of “social distancing,” I think we are all missing our passive professional connections more than ever. So, perhaps it’s time to invite new ones.
Here’s what makes me excited for what Clubhouse could bring to the interiors industry:
- It expands exposure to people and perspectives. While many social media platforms have, unfortunately, strengthened the divide in our society by allowing us to only surround ourselves with those who think, vote, and even look like us, Clubhouse is a truly democratized platform allowing anyone with a common interest to “take the stage,” share opinions, and discuss. You may notice the diversity in the “rooms” exceeds that of other professional and personal circles. And, in this day and age of diversity, equity, and inclusion, gaining new perspective is paramount to developing empathy.
- It expands exposure to information. While most social media platforms are focused on a certain level of polish or expressing a confident point of view (thought leadership), Clubhouse is focused on the step before that: vulnerably exploring and developing that point of view. Think of Clubhouse as the place to humbly ask, not pontificate. In the absence of spontaneous connections, with one click of a button, Clubhouse gives you a platform to get exposed and make connections without having to swap out your track suit. In this way it also drives deep authenticity; the interactions are tough to script or polish, so what you see is what you get.
- It makes new connections within the industry and beyond. In ThinkLab’s short history as Clubhouse moderators, we have had competing manufacturers take the stage for a productive discussion about vertical market growth. As we have explored other “rooms” within the platforms, we have connected with market researchers across to discuss topics important to us with researchers across the globe (like survey fatigue amidst COVID-19). Imagine what connections you could make with no travel, no awkward introductory emails, and in less time than clicking on a calendar invite.
How do I get started?
- First you have receive an invite. You’ll need to contact a friend with an iPhone or Android for an invite.
- Take this tutorial. (You’ll thank us later; it only takes 15 minutes.)
- Start by joining in-industry clubs. While the point of this app is to make new connections, it helps to start someplace familiar. Even though residential designers are flocking to Clubhouse, adoption is not as fast just yet for the commercial side of the industry. But ThinkLab is working to develop a welcoming community of familiar faces to start, from which we hope you expand. Find our club: Design + Data w/ThinkLab, where each week we share a data point underlining industry evolution and invite conversation. Occasionally editors from Interior Design and Metropolis join our Friday coffee chats, held at 9:00 am EST.Other in-industry clubs include: Architecture & Design, which is hosted by architect and YouTuber, Tim Ung; Business of Homes club, which is active and fascinating, with lots of juicy insights about the business of design; Contract Interiors, which is hosted by Sid Meadows, and focuses on topics that matter to distributors; and Driving Designers, hosted by Catherine Minervini and Julie Barfuss, and focused on networking and making personal connections, especially for those looking for their next steps.
Is Clubhouse a flash in the pan or the next big thing?
Put simply: we’re not sure. But perhaps it’s what we all need right now. As Forbes social media blogger John Brandon says in his review, “This immediacy (everything is live) and passivity (I can just listen and not interact) is a good match for remote work because we’re already not adhering to normal schedules. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a parked car and driving in the fast lane at the same time. With apps like Clubhouse that promote passive interaction, it feels like you have your hand on the pause button at all times. (Zoom fatigue occurs when we can’t hit pause, or at least we feel dumb when we do.) We can be social, or we can be passive, or we can drop out entirely.”
Already on Clubhouse? We’d love to hear from you on Fridays at 9:00 am EST in our club: Design + Data w/ThinkLab.
Amanda Schneider is founder and president of ThinkLab, the research division of SANDOW. Join in to explore what’s next at thinklab.design/join-in.
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