Clubhouse’s popularity is falling as quickly as it rose to the top.
Due to the slow introduction of key features, poor scalability and the lack of monetization options, analysts say Clubhouse is losing ground when it comes to getting users to stay on the platform. Instead, social media users are turning back to more robust social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to cast a wider net.
“People were hungry for human connection but didn’t always want to hop on video chat,” Shama Hyder, CEO of digital marketing firm Zen Media, said. “The future is community. Wherever there is community, there will be revenue. The challenge is, Clubhouse isn’t the only place to have community.”
Since launching in March 2020, the social audio app saw its best months in global downloads at the start of this year — getting its highest installs at 9.6 million in February. But installs worldwide have fallen to under 2 million in recent months. In October, global installs plummeted to 962,000, according to the latest data from Sensor Tower.
“We have seen Clubhouse’s installs normalize since the surge in adoption earlier this year,” Stephanie Chan, mobile insights strategist at Sensor Tower, told TheWrap. “Although its monthly installs have since declined, our data shows that it has retained a healthy percentage of active users.”
Clubhouse did not provide its total users but last reported this year that it has “added 10 (million) people to the community” since its Android rollout in mid-May.
In November, a room featuring an exclusive interview with Adele by Oprah Winfrey managed to get about 40,000 listeners, compared to the 10 million that tuned in on CBS for Adele’s one-night performance. Another room last month featuring Zoe Saldana, Reese Witherspoon and Tiffany Haddish garnered some 18,000 listeners.
Clubhouse said it thinks these numbers are good when compared to podcast data. “It’s not apples to apples, as a live social audio audience is presumably more focused and engaged, but given the newness of the medium, podcasts are at this point a solid point of reference until there’s more year over year data for reference,” spokesperson Grey Munford told TheWrap.
“We see peaks and plateaus but, for example, this week our growth trajectory is up because of a combination of major one-off and recurring rooms that all happened in an overlapping fashion,” Munford said. “Again, over time, these spikes should flatten out into steady growth but in these early chapters, jumps and corrections are inevitable.”
Whether or not Clubhouse can bounce back with added social features will depend on their adoption going forward. In July, the app introduced direct messaging, Backchannel, so users can chat individually or in groups. That month, it also opened up the app to everyone after starting out as an invite-only platform. In November, it began adding 26 languages to expand in more countries.
“Social audio is an important thing to pay attention to, as I think in late 2022 we will see more of a surge in adoption,” Chris Tompkins, CEO of marketing firm The Go! Agency, said.
Born out of the pandemic in 2020, the San Francisco-based startup is just under two years old, having raised a total of $110 million following a Series C round in June, according to Crunchbase records. The company received investments led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz and was touted as the hottest new app in Silicon Valley at one point.
“Clubhouse helped popularize social audio platforms, but it will need to continue innovating in order to compete with these household names, such as Facebook and Twitter, that already have enormous, highly engaged user bases,” Chan said.
Since Clubhouse came out, Facebook and Twitter have both launched their own live audio features. Earlier this year, LinkedIn and Spotify also introduced social audio experiences to their platforms, and a host of more niche audio apps have since entered the micro podcasting or social audio market — further increasing competition for creating live audio content as the larger platforms provide more options for connecting.
“Now with nearly all platforms employing an audio feature, it immediately took the wind out of good ole’ Clubhouse’s sails,” Tompkins said.