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Clubhouse Looks to More Private Sharing as it Seeks to Regain its Growth Mojo

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Clubhouse's Latest Strategic Shift Points to Concerning Signs for the App's Future

As it looks to redefine its identity, and recapture its growth momentum, Clubhouse has announced that it’s launching a new, more private approach to audio social meet-ups, with what it’s calling ‘Houses’, which are essentially more enclosed, invite-only spaces within the app.

As explained by Clubhouse:

Think of Houses as private hallways just for your favorite people. You can drop in anytime, hop from room to room, catch up with friends, and meet their friends. Houses usually have regular meetup times, and everyone gets to nominate a few friends, so the House grows through people you trust. Or, you can keep it closed if you like – it’s fun either way!”

The process will essentially provide more control for users to curate the Clubhouse experience that they prefer, with the people that they want to hear from, as opposed to having to wade through the various rooms that may not be of relevance.

Because as with all live-streaming platforms, discovery is a challenge. When you give everyone a chance to broadcast, a lot of it will end up being crappy, because it takes skill and experience to create consistent, engaging content that will keep audiences entertained.

Most people simply can’t do this, and that, in turn, leads to a worse user experience, because you end up being confronted by an array of rubbish broadcasts every time you open the app, till eventually you just don’t bother looking anymore.

Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison has essentially conceded that Clubhouse misstepped on this front:

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We [initially] tried to limit signups by requiring an existing member to invite you, but that perversely made people want to join more, and flooded the hallway with less relevant rooms. Noise causes churn, but somehow, millions made it through the madness, found their people, and form the core of our community today.”

Davison is trying to put a more positive spin on this, but again, we’ve seen the same with every live-streaming platform – the best streamers are great, and can drive huge value, but 90% of the broadcasts are not, and that disparity makes it very hard to build a truly engaging, scalable experience that will keep people coming back.

Which is what this new initiative is focused on. With Houses, you’ll be able to be more selective about the content you’re shown in the app, which will ideally limit those poor experiences.

The best social experiences are not open to everyone. They are small and curated. This is what creates intimacy, trust and friendship.

Though there will still be a level of discovery, even with this new approach.

House member lists will be public, while many rooms in the app will also remain publicly accessible. Users will also still be able to explore the hallways and discover new people, but the actual House rooms themselves will be private. So you’ll still be able to look around and seek out potentially valuable experiences. You just won’t be able to join them, unless you apply, or get in contact with the organizers some other way.

In some ways, it’s similar to the shift we’ve seen with Facebook, where engagement gradually shifted to Groups, and away from News Feeds. More recently, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has said that engagement is now shifting into DMs, as opposed to the main feed, and in this sense, Clubhouse’s House approach could align with broader behaviors in other apps.

But I’m not sure it’s a growth lever, which is what Clubhouse really needs.

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Ideally, Clubhouse would be able to curate the best experiences for each user, and maximize listenership for each broadcast – as opposed to closing them off and making it a more private experience.

That option might well boost engagement among existing users. But whether it will make it more inviting for others, I’m not so sure.

But Clubhouse needs to try something. According to reports, Clubhouse saw 3.8 million new installs globally between January 1st and May 31st this year, compared to 19 million installs during the same period in 2021 – an 80% year-over-year decline.   

Maybe, then, Clubhouse’s potential as a broad usage tool is already too far gone, and it needs to seek out more specific niches to solidify its footing.

You can sign up for the Clubhouse ‘Houses’ beta test here.



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Snap Launches New Bitmoji Fashion Collection from Carhartt, as it Continues to Build its Personalization Tools

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Snap Launches New Bitmoji Fashion Collection from Carhartt, as it Continues to Build its Personalization Tools

While Meta continues to work on advanced VR interaction, with a view to hosting the next stage of digital connection, Snapchat is charting its own path in building towards the metaverse future, which may or may not be owned by Zuck and team.

Aside from developing its own AR tools, a field in which it remains a leading presence, Snap is also building more advanced avatar options through its popular Bitmoji platform, which has enabled users to create digital likenesses of themselves since 2007.

The latest advance on this front is Bitmoji fashion, with a range of well-known brands signing on to create digital replicas of their products, that users can then dress their Bitmoji characters in.

The latest brand to sign up for this is Carhartt, which has partnered with Snap on a new range of Bitmoji items.

As per Carhartt:

“Inspired by Carhartt’s most popular men and women styles, the new digital offering enables Snapchat and Bitmoji users everywhere to authentically represent themselves in the digital world through a variety of products and colors. The digital attire includes the brand’s iconic Detroit Jacket, K87 Short Sleeve Pocket T-shirt, Force Sweatshirt, BO1 Double Front Pants and Duck Bib Overalls.

Carhartt joins a growing list of top brands building their own Bitmoji fashion collections, with Adidas, Converse, Nike, Jordan, Crocs, Levi’s, American Eagle, Off-White, Vans, Nickelodeon and Ralph Lauren all now hosting official Bitmoji item sets, providing expanded branding potential for their products, while also giving Bitmoji users more customizable options for their in-app depictions.

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Which looks set to be a key trend in the coming metaverse shift. Part of the recent NFT boom links into the concept of ‘digital identity’, with many viewing their cartoonish profile pictures as a new form of personalization and expression, which will eventually translate into equivalent avatars and depictions for them to use in the eventual metaverse environment.

That’s looking less likely, at least from an NFT perspective, as NFT sales continue to plummet. But the concept that people will want to create unique digital characters to represent their personality in this new space is definitely set to be a major trend, as we’ve already seen this in our early examples of what metaverse interaction might look like.

The current proxies we have for the broader metaverse vision are gaming worlds, like Roblox and Fortnite, both of which generate significant income from sales of in-game skins. In fact, Minecraft has built a whole creator economy around custom character and feature designs, with users looking to edit and personalize their in-game depictions in order to better stand out from the crowd, with elements based on achievements, expense, rarity, etc.

Eventually, if all goes as planned, we’ll see similar trends in the metaverse as well – though its less likely to involve Bored Apes, and more likely to facilitate interactive customization, in a broad range of ways, which will also provide all new branding opportunities through sponsored collections, like these Bitmoji offerings.

And that’ll also, eventually, lead to direct sales of digital clothing, which is the next stage of Snapchat’s vision.

Back in 2020, Snap filed a patent which outlined how its Bitmoji fashion process would eventually see Snap partner with a range of fashion retailers to provide Bitmoji versions of their items. That would then provide a heap of new clothing options for your avatar in the app, while also giving the brands new opportunities to showcase their latest products in an engaging, interactive way. 

Snapchat Bitmoji fashion patent

The dual benefit of online and real world product sales is an enticing allure, and will no doubt become increasingly popular as we move closer to the metaverse future.

But then again, there’s also a question of whether Bitmoji characters will even be able to make the leap into the metaverse, and whether you’ll be able to use the same digital avatars across various apps and platforms.

That’s the ideal vision for the metaverse future, where universal schemas will enable anybody to build avatars that can be used across Meta, Snapchat, Fortnite, Minecraft, etc. That would then mean that the character you build in one app will become your digital representation in all worlds.

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It’s an ambitious undertaking, which requires a lot of agreement to make it work – but eventually, it could be that your Bitmoji caricature does, in fact, become your universal avatar across all apps.

At least, that’s what Snap is building towards, which could facilitate all new promotion and product showcase opportunities.



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