Listen to you social media apps

Who should hear all this?

In the meantime, German politicians are also talking hot in the new social media app Clubhouse. First findings after a week in the club.

The general secretary of the SPD has also recently been on the Duke. It no longer says: "Mr. Klingbeil, what is your assessment of this and that?" They say: "Lars, what do you think of that?" A January evening in the “Clubhouse”: Henning Tillmann, a software developer hitherto unknown to the general public, who is also a member of the SPD's network policy commission, has invited Klingbeil to a round of talks via the app. They want to talk about what was important that day.

Lars: "This is really a hyped thing here, so let's talk a bit."

Henning: "The main topic of the day is: The No Angels are back."

It takes the secretary-general a few seconds to sort the message. Was that meant seriously? Everyone here has obviously chosen to be a little younger. And if Duzen is normal, then it may also be conversations with the SPD General Secretary about girl groups from the day before yesterday.

Lars: "I didn't even notice that the No Angels broke up."

Henning: “That was more fun now. No, the top topic today is Corona and the Prime Minister's round with the Chancellor. "

Lars actually has a lot to say about that. It makes him really "happy" that almost all people adhere to the Corona measures. It's really difficult what you can do now to reduce the number of infections, "Henning, I don't know how it is with you, you just zoom in, you can't restrict your private life any more."

Because Henning is more of a comrade than an independent moderator and because the audience can ask questions in addition to the moderator during discussions in the clubhouse, the conversation now bounces around like a thematic rubber ball: from the home office obligation to closed schools, from vaccination to the CDU, on the SPD election campaign, for which Klingbeil has “many ideas”, but which he does not want to divulge now because people from the CDU or the Greens may also be listening.

Since the Hamburg influencer Ann-Katrin Schmitz talked about the “hottest, newest social media app” in her Instagram story last Saturday, the number of Clubhouse users in Germany has increased rapidly. Schmitz is followed by a lot of people who do something with media, and so the audio app spread rapidly - although or precisely because it currently still needs an invitation to register. It only took another day for the app to finally spread to the smartphones of politicians and lobbyists.

The app works like a kind of virtual congress in which users can jump from one virtual conference room to the next in order to listen to speakers and participate in discussions. The users do not see any videos of the speakers, they only hear the voices. Anyone who joins a “room” is shown with their profile picture. If you want to have a say, raise your virtual hand.

Everyone can build their own stage at Clubhouse. And so there has been a kind of gold rush mood for a week, especially among those people from the German political, PR and media bubbles who have not yet made it into the limelight or have been there before, but have been a bit forgotten.

More than 5000 listeners in a talk with Thomas Gottschalk

You can get lost in this app. Someone always speaks - on all conceivable topics. There is the “Cannabis Community Club” and the “African American Coaches Association”, and there is the “Extraterrestrial Evidence Club”, in which the participants exchange information about UFOs.

For a few days now, the earlier “Wetten, dass. . ? »- presenter Thomas Gottschalk and tells, for example, how he once met the new US President Joe Biden in the rose garden of the White House. Back when the Chancellor was awarded the "Medal of Honor" (which is actually called the Medal of Freedom). At that time he appeared together with the “pouring out” of the Germans living in the USA and Mrs. Clinton kept shouting “Thomaaaa, Thomaaaa”.

Gottschalk attracts more than 5,000 listeners that evening with his anecdotes, which ultimately pushes the app to its limits. The "Room" is temporarily closed to new users. Hardly anyone has triggered that much response up to now. Most of the rooms have a few dozen, sometimes a few hundred participants.

Nicer and gentler than the mob network Twitter

There is the round "Röttgang", whose participants mourn the missed CDU chairmanship for Norbert Röttgen, there is the round "Primetime - Politics unplugged" with the CSU General Secretary Markus Blume or the group "Noon in the government quarter", in the young politicians of The FDP, SPD and the Greens discuss with each other - and mostly agree astonishingly.

Everything looks nicer and gentler than in the mob network Twitter - where otherwise many of the clubhouse users allow themselves to be insulted with 280 characters and also like to hand them out themselves. Maybe it's the spoken word, maybe it's the visible audience. On Twitter, you can't keep track of who's reading everything, here you see lots of small photos of people listening on the screen. Sometimes you have to scroll down the picture collection to see the last listener in a discussion.

Chance for the party offspring

Perhaps it is also because those who otherwise cause agitation in the networks have hardly been represented on Clubhouse until now - such as AfD supporters. It is questionable how users will react if this changes. When the influencer Anabel Schunke was admitted to a clubhouse talk on the subject of journalism and the “lying press” this week as a speaker, this subsequently caused severe criticism. Among other things, Schunke writes for the blog platform “The axis of the good”.

The "Room" by Lars Klingbeil and Henning Tillman has meanwhile arrived at the subject of vaccinations:

Fabian: “Many people around me say that I don't want to be vaccinated because of long-term effects. I think it should be communicated out loud against anti-vaccination opponents. "

Lars: «I fully agree. Big campaigns are needed now. "

Johanna: "I just wanted to say something about digitization, is that okay?"

Lars: "That's okay, Johanna."

500 people listen on average that evening. For a politician who has to endure staying behind an almost empty campaign stand for half a day, that's a decent record. "I find the idea behind Clubhouse interesting, and it fits in very well with the lockdown period," Klingbeil told this newspaper a few days later. The conversations are pleasant, also because, unlike on other platforms, hatred and agitation are still left out and topics are dealt with in more depth. Nonetheless, he critically states a “surplus of men”. Clubhouse is not an app with which you can reach the majority of citizens, but rather remains very much in your own bubble.

In the course of the week, in any case, the number of rounds in which politicians from the front row took part decreased significantly. The party offspring, on the other hand, seems to see a real opportunity in the clubhouse - to make contacts and to test arguments in front of a manageable audience. But maybe it's too much talk for busy people and professional politicians. Because one question is open: Who should hear all this?