The Social Media Report #15

A look at the week's news at the intersection of social media and society

In this edition we take a look at the week that Clubhouse took off, as the audio social network saw high profile events featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla / SpaceX founder Elon Musk taking to the stage. We also have the top 50 people to follow on Clubhouse, and my must-read articles of the week.

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The week in review

Clubhouse’s take-off week. The surprise appearance of two the world’s top technology CEOs live on the social network Clubhouse this week turned heads. On Sunday night, Elon Musk took to the virtual stage for over 90mins, then on Thursday it was Mark Zuckerberg who followed. That they participated in a live, free-flowing conversation, at times messy, and throughout very raw and engaging, speaks volumes about the power of the latest social network to hit the headlines. It also hints at the intentions of Musk and Zuckerberg, too. Recordings of Musk’s and Zuck’s Clubhouse appearances are on YouTube for posterity.

Why does Clubhouse matter? The social network is seeing exponential growth, from 200k users in December 2020 to 6m users now, all the while still in private beta mode. The critical mass that Clubhouse is building is what is important here, as other social networks rush to copy audio as a form factor for networking. It surely won’t be long before Facebook Groups, Twitter Spaces, WhatsApp Voice Notes and Insta Reels emulate Clubhouse, but the new entrant is gaining first mover advantage, and a $1bn valuation before it has even properly launched. Many have found Clubhouse strange, some see it as just meh, but that is exactly how the biggest media innovations play out at this stage in their journeys. As Clubhouse grows, and as others copy, a new kind of media consumption and creator culture is evolving.

Clubhouse 101: so what exactly is Clubhouse and how did Musk’s and Zuck’s appearances happen? Clubhouse is a voice-only social network app, still in private beta, and for iPhones only. To use it, you need an invite from an existing user. Users appear in ‘rooms’ (private or public groups), either as a ‘moderator’ (organiser), a ‘speaker’ (invited up by a mod), or a ‘listener’. As a user you can set up a room to take place now, or scheduled at a future date, or you can just listen into public rooms. The feed on Clubhouse is rooms from your network and what’s trending.

As a listener you can ask to join the speaker stage, or be invited up, but moderators control who speaks. All rooms are live and not recorded, so user behaviour is typically swarm-like in nature as all content is ephemeral. Clubhouse is simple, raw and Different. What is key for Clubhouse’s role in the media landscape is that it offers a new space that sits alongside mainstream social media, complementing other social networks, and also disrupting audio apps, podcasting, even phone calls. Here’s how it looks, if you’ve not been in it yet, as laid out by the host of the high profile Good Time Show, Sriram Krishnan, which hosted Zuck and Musk.

What next for Clubhouse? The social network Clubhouse has not been without its problems since launching in April 2020. Issues around abusive behaviour have caused ripples and created headlines. Last month Clubhouse secured $100m funding which it pledged to put in part towards improvements in content moderation. For a network of live audio, often with strangers, clashes are certain to happen, so moderation on Clubhouse will be key.

‘Here come the brands…’ The phrase I heard this week while I was speaking in one room, and it wasn’t said in a terribly positive way. Users of Clubhouse say the key to success on the network is authenticity and adding value. It takes time, and ‘the sell’ doesn’t go down well. Many, it seems, are concerned about the impact rapid growth, in particular from brands, will bring. On top of this, the influence that high profile clubs, creators and discussions can have on society more widely is growing, and how it is regulated, much like how all social media is regulated, will be an area to watch closely.


The top 50 people to follow on Clubhouse

I have put together a list of the top 50 people to follow on Clubhouse, based on a mix of follower size, real life profile, and interest level. Some of those featured on my list are the most-followed accounts on Clubhouse, some very small but are new to the platform and their prominence elsewhere warrants their inclusion. I put this list together because search functionality on Clubhouse is still poor, profile linking and verified status are not yet a thing, so I have included the usernames and follower numbers and a brief profile of each of the individuals I have selected. I am @drewbenvie on Clubhouse, so hit me up there too.

To find each of my top 50 on Clubhouse, paste their username into the Clubhouse app. It will save you the hours of searching through clubs and copycat profiles.

So, in alphabetical order, my 50 top people to follow:


1. Aarthi Ramamurthy

@aarthir

19,700 followers

Co-host of Good Time Club, which Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk appeared on this week.


2. Abraxas Higgins

@abraxas

103,000 followers

Creator of UK’s biggest club, 9am in London.


3. Alexis Ohanian

@alexisohanian

144,000 followers

Founder of Reddit.


4. Andrew Bosworth 

@boztank

6,500 followers

Head of virtual and augmented reality at Facebook. 


5. Andrew Chen

@andrew  

1.2m followers

Board member at Clubhouse, investor through Andreesen Horowitz.


6. Ashton Kutcher

@aplusk

759,000 followers

Actor, producer and investor.


7. Baratunde Thurston

@baratunde

35,800 followers

High profile speaker on race, culture and politics.


8. Ben Parr

@benparr

19,300 followers

Founder of high profile clubs and investor.


9. Boi-1da

@boi1da

27,800 followers

Musician and producer.


10. Chet Hanks

@chethanx

2,800 followers

Actor and musician.


11. Damian Collins

@damiancollinsmp

136 followers

Griller of tech founders, UK member of parliament and influential figure digital culture.


12. Daniel Ek

@eldsjal

4,900 followers

Founder and CEO of Spotify.


13. Danny Rimer

@dinorimere

428 followers

Partner at Index Ventures.


14. Deborah Joseph

@deboarhjoseph

305 followers

Editor in Chief at Glamour Magazine UK.


15. Doja Cat

@dojacat

457 followers

American singer.


16. Drake

@elchico

11,800 followers

Singer songwriter.


17. Elad Gil

@elad 

25,000 followers

Investor and former VP at Twitter.


18. Elon Musk

@elonmusk

288,000 followers

Founder of Tesla and SpaceX.


19. Estelle

@estelledarlings

3,100 followers

Singer songwriter.


20. Felicia Horowitz

@feliciahorowitz

1.5m followers

Philanthropist and organiser of high profile Virtual Dinner Party club.


21. Gayle King

@gayle 

1.2m followers

Journalist and TV personality, host on CBS News.


22. Garry Tan

@garrytan

73,900 followers

YouTuber, tech founder and investor.


23. Jack Dorsey

@jackjack

15,700 followers

Founder and CEO of Twitter.


24. Jared Leto

@jaredleto

1.3m followers

Actor and activist.


25. Jeremiah Owyang

@jowyang

12,900 followers

Technology analyst. 


26. Jim Cregan

@jimcregan

55 followers

Founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.


27. Kat Cole

@kat   

499,000 followers

Investor and advisor on leadership.


28. Katie Stanton

@katie  

1.1m followers

Venture founder at Moxxie Ventures.


29. Kenny Beats

@kennybeats

3,000 followers

Music producer.


30. Leah Culver

@leah 

3,300 followers

Heads up Twitter Spaces, which is hoping to do what Clubhouse is doing.


31. Li Jin

@li 

12,500 followers

Investor and commentator on tech trends.


32. Marc Andreesen

@pmarca

1.4m followers

Founder of Andreesen Horowitz, investor in Clubhouse.


33. Mark Cuban

@mcuban

35,800 followers

Entrepreneur, investor and owner of Dallas Mavericks.


34. Mark Zuckerberg

@zuck23

53,300 followers

Founder of Facebook.


35. MC Hammer

@gigahamm

47,800 followers

Hammer time.


36. Mike Butcher 

@mikebutcher

9,900 followers

Editor-at-large of TechCrunch.


37. Paul Davidson

@paul 

1.6m followers

Co-founder of Clubhouse.


38. Post Malone

@postmalone

680 followers

American singer songwriter.


39. Reid Hoffman

@quixotic

8,100 followers

Founder of LinkedIn. 


40. Rohan Seth

@rohan

1.8m followers

Co-founder of Clubhouse.


41. Rory Cellan-Jones

@rorycellan

553 followers

BBC technology correspondent. 


42. Scooter Braun

@scooter 

1.1m followers

Music executive and manager.


43. Sheryl Sandberg

@sheryl 

2,200 followers

COO of Facebook. 


44. Shakil Khan

@shak_ 

822 followers

Investor and tech commentator.


45. Sriram Krishnan

@sriramk

112,000 followers

Co-host of Good Time Club, which Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk appeared on this week.


46. Taylor Lorenz

@taylorlorenz

8,700 followers

Reporter on social media, creators and tech at the New York Times.


47. Tiffany Haddish

@tiffanyhaddish1

1.7m followers

Actress and comedian.


48. Van Jones

@van 

1.4m followers

News commentator.


49. Virgil Abloh

@virgilabloh

1m followers

Designer and CEO of Off-White.


50. Will I Am

@iamwill

18,100 followers

‘CMO of my dreams’.


My must reads from this week

Last up, the most interesting stories that I have been reading this week.

Clubhouse

Disinformation

Regulation

Digital IPOs worth watching

Interest

  • My favourite video of the year so far: Jackie Weaver you have no authority! The local council meeting was all kinds of brilliant. But how did it start? A video of it was unearthed by a teenager who likes watching council meetings on YouTube, and the rest is history. Here’s the full meeting.

  • Spinach taught to send emails: how plants can be wired up to detect explosives and alert us.

  • Last but not least, the team at Battenhall is expanding and we are hiring at all levels. One role which got shared widely this week by the mainstream press is our Clubhouse specialist role. Details are below and applications coming in so far are top notch! Full job spec is here.


The Social Media Report is written by Drew Benvie, founder & CEO of Battenhall, The Drum, CIPR and GDXA’s social media consultancy of the year 2020.

You can follow The Social Media Report on Twitter at @TheSMReport. Suggestions for stories can be emailed to db@battenhall.com. Thank you for reading, and see you next time.