Clubhouse has added a new text chat option that will run in addition to the main audio discussion in each session, giving users another way to participate in the conversation in each room.
As seen in this example from user Michael Sterling, Clubhouse’s chat option is a simple text stream to which all listeners can contribute, expanding the input potential beyond those chosen to speak. Clubhouse also added a private chat option in July of last year, but this is a more open discussion in which any attendee can contribute.
According to Clubhouse:
“Today, we’re introducing in-room chat, which will allow users – from mods to audience listeners – to communicate with one another via text during a live room.” Don’t want to miss your chance to tell a great joke? Do you want to make a song request? Do you want to respond with an emoji? You can now post it in the room chat.”
The idea is that this will help to get more people involved in the conversation, especially those who want to contribute but don’t want to speak up. If Clubhouse can get more people involved, that’s great for community building – but, as other live-stream platforms have discovered, opening up a free-for-all in the comments can be problematic as well.
Indeed, even within the first few hours of the function’s activation, reports of spam and offensive comments surfaced. As a result, it’s critical that room hosts have control over the option, which Clubhouse has built-in, along with a variety of other safety features.
The main functional point here is that creators can choose whether or not to enable text chat in their room, and they can turn it off at any time during the broadcast. Hosts can also delete any message posted by anyone during the session or after the room closes, with the text chat viewable in the replay (though replay listeners cannot contribute further comments).
Contributors will be able to edit and delete their own comments in-stream, and users will be able to report any offensive or harmful comments by long pressing on the offending remark and selecting ‘Report.’
If chats are enabled in a Clubhouse session, a new chat icon will appear in the bottom left corner of the screen, next to the ‘Share’ and ‘Clip’ icons.
Discussion in the clubhouse
As previously stated, various live-stream platforms already provide similar text chat options, so it’s not a significant functional leap forward. However, it adds something new to the Clubhouse engagement process, which may help it increase engagement among more passive audience members (i.e. lurkers).
Despite the fact that it is no longer the most popular social app, Clubhouse has continued to grow steadily, with usage in India, in particular, on the rise following its expansion to Android.
As shown in the graph, while downloads of the app slowed in the North and Latin America (NALA) region in the middle of last year, growth in APAC more than compensated. It hasn’t kept those download numbers consistent, but Clubhouse did report that its app was downloaded 2.6 million times in December, a significant increase over the previous month.
Clubhouse may have special significance in the Indian region, where the Indian government is constantly working to limit and even restrict certain types of speech in social apps in order to quell anti-government sentiment.
When the conversation is taking place in real-time, however, that’s not really possible – which, of course, could lead to Clubhouse colliding with local regulators at some point.
But, for the time being, 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 over two million people).
Even if it isn’t a daily habit for as many western users as it once was, Clubhouse could still be a key consideration for many in the future if it can further establish its niche.
In-room chat is now available on iOS and Android.