Lessons learned building a Top 50 club on 👋Clubhouse — in less than 8 weeks

  • Build a better club on Clubhouse
  • Understand how notifications work on Clubhouse
  • Consider the pros and cons of building member vs follower counts
  • Get greater audience numbers into your rooms


Patrick (@PatrickSayers 🙌) applied for “Fintech & Payments 💰” club on 31-Dec-20 and the club was created two weeks later.

Daily growth of members, followers and both by day (last 30 days)

How do notifications on Clubhouse work?

I started out with the following key questions:

  1. Which events create notifications? (this you can infer from the app interface and experience of the app from every day use)
  2. How does the Clubhouse app decide which notifications you receive? (To quote Chris Smither “the best answer, you learnt a long time ago: I don’t know.” But I have a hypothesis regarding the Clubhouse algorithms that I am willing to share — and I’m open to feedback)
  3. What user settings and club owner/admin actions further impact the notifications you receive? (Here lies the rub if you want to skip ahead.)

1. Which events create notifications?

In short, lots of different things. Broadly speaking the actions you take on the app, and the actions that others take on the app, will define what notifications you receive via a social media concept known as the social graph.

2. How does the Clubhouse app decide which notifications you receive?

This is where things get a little complicated — and my views here are largely based off intuition, patchy data, my limited knowledge and experience. For the avoidance of doubt, I have no privileged or private access to the inside of the Clubhouse. These are just my thoughts, gleaned from being a semi-active user on Clubhouse and one of the founders of the Fintech & Payments club. [And I would really welcome any views that others can offer. Probably best to email me — James at the Fintech & Payments Club domain name.]

  1. Activity. I believe Clubhouse sends you notifications based on your activity levels within the app. If you’re not on the app, they want you on the app — this is where on-device notifications help. And if you’re on the app, but your activity levels are flagging, in-app notifications help keep your interest and you on the app for longer.
  2. Behaviour. If you’re not in a room, Clubhouse wants you to be in a room that holds your attention rather than roaming the halls. It’s a bit like you’re surfing the channels on the TV finding something to watch: your behaviour on the app will help train the algorithms — which rooms keep your attention, and which do not, resulting in you leaving the room and looking for something else.
  3. Context: I think this for me cuts in different ways.
    * First, where are you in your Clubhouse journey — to start with, Clubhouse wants you to find some engaging rooms that are perhaps more generic than niche. Over time as they learn your tastes and preferences from using the app, you should be getting more specific recommendations through your notification feeds.
    * Second, I think Clubhouse might analyse which topics, and which people / rooms / clubs in particular, capture your interest, based on your audience and speaker activity. Armed with this information, I think they weight different identities in your social graph. If you spend a lot of time listening to Bobby talk about Aviation, the app should help you find Bobby and Aviation topics again.
    * Third, I think Clubhouse analyses when you are active on the app and when you are busy doing other stuff elsewhere. If you’re a shift worker who can or cannot listen in at certain times of the day for example, there’s little point sending you invitations to join rooms that you can’t (and previously have clearly ignored).
  4. Frequency: I think there are global settings that Clubhouse apply to the frequency of notifications for two reasons.
    * First, I think Clubhouse may use global settings to control the roll out of the app. As the social graph builds, and user adoption grows, more notification events will be triggered (more users x more followers/following x more clubs), and it gets to the point where people are getting over-saturated with notifications. This may risk people turning off notifications altogether — see grey box — which would be a coarse filter best avoided if possible.
    * Second, I think Clubhouse may deliberately boost new clubs by giving them more than their fair share of notifications vs other clubs to help founding teams get adoption and establish new clubs. More, vibrant clubs is good for Clubhouse.

3. What user settings and club owner/admin actions further impact the notifications you receive?

The user settings are relatively easy to understand — see first diagram for the list of settings you can configure to suit your preferences. The impact of club owner actions however are less clear. Part of me is concerned that our use of off-Clubhouse tools, like a website and a public calendar, which means people can find our club events directly via a URL/hyperlink (see black box in the bottom right corner of the first diagram) is causing Clubhouse to generate fewer notifications for the benefit of our members and followers because we are doing more of the work ourselves, so they are instead pushing notifications to our potential audience members for the benefit of other clubs instead.

What are the implications for Club founders, admins & moderators ?

  1. Promote use of Ping To Room (PTR) via the (+) button with your audience — it appears to bypass the filters
  2. Encourage your Followers to make use of the Bell notification (“Always notify me when X speaks”)
  3. Promote events outside of Clubhouse — e.g. social media, public calendars — I’d be surprised if this is causing a slow down in notifications given the app is on a sharp growth trajectory right now.
  4. Create own event notification streams for your club — e.g. email list / SMS notifications — see FintechAndPayments.Club/register for example



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James Sherwin-Smith

James Sherwin-Smith

Engineer by education, Consultant by experience, Entrepreneur at heart. My professional focus is #fintech, I’m an #avgeek, + I occasionally blog about #politics