New social media platform Clubhouse sees fast increase in Czech users

Clubhouse, photo: archive of Clubhouse

Clubhouse, a new social media application, gained its first Czech users this month and has expanded quickly. The app, which was released in the spring of last year, has caused excitement in the past weeks among Czech netizens, becoming one of the most frequently downloaded iOS apps in the country.

The number of Czechs on Clubhouse has grown from none to several thousand in January, according to estimates by users. Known names such as marketer Marek Prchal and politician Dominik Feri are among the Czechs that have joined.

The app is based completely on live verbal communication and allows users to discuss different topics in various thematic “rooms”, often with complete strangers. Talking to Czech Radio, tech journalist David Koubský shared his experience with the platform.

“To me, it so far seems like a long hallway with many doors, and behind each door is a room which one can open. People are talking inside, and you can either join the conversation, remain as a passive audience or leave if you get bored with it.”

Josef Šlerka,  photo: Czech Television

The app is so far running in a closed beta mode, which means that it is accessible only to people who receive an invitation from existing users via a text message, with each user only allowed to send two invites. Moreover, it is so far only available for download on iOS devices. Analyst Josef Šlerka, was one of the first to join Clubhouse in this country.

“The system of invitations creates a feeling of exclusivity and very strongly shapes the community. In essence, it creates one big social bubble. I have heard that invites can even be sold on eBay.”

Despite the limitations on new users, a fledgling Czech Clubhouse community has emerged. Topics of conversations on the app range from the mundane to exchanges on investing and business tips. Eager users have started Facebook and Instagram groups dedicated to guiding the fledgling community. And prominent figures of Czech public life have also joined in debates on the platform, including politicians Markéta Pekarová Adamová and Dominik Feri, or the well-known marketer Marek Prchal.

Because of the diversity of topics discussed live, the platform has been touted by some as a more spontaneous alternative to radio or podcasts. Josef Šlerka compared the two forms of media:

“The comparison to instant podcasts is fine, but the difference is that podcasts have something extra to them, editing work, audio quality. Podcasts are a bit more professional, whereas here it is more about instant variations on different topics.”

Clubhouse’s future popularity in the Czech Republic will be determined by whether the network can transition to an open-for-all version and beyond Apple devices. Measured by the number of users, the most popular social media sites in Czechia are Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, according to a study conducted last year by data analytics companies AMI Digital and STEM/MARK. Clubhouse is unlikely to join the ranks of the established networks just yet.