There’s been lots of talk surrounding a certain social media platform recently, and for once it’s not Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok. That’s right - we’re talking about Clubhouse, the not-so-secret, exclusive app that allows people to hold audio conversations with others. With exclusivity and reputation at the core of the platform, it has grown beyond all expectations in 2021. Even Elon Musk held a Clubhouse meeting earlier this year!
With this in mind, we know that a significant number of people are asking all about Clubhouse, what it does, and why you should be interested as a business or marketer.
Let’s start at the beginning. What’s Clubhouse? Essentially, this is a new social media platform that differs from what the market has already because it focuses the service on audio conversations. According to Clubhouse, the platform is designed for people to:
Imagine a global forum with conversations occurring on various topics - now imagine these conversations taking place through audio files rather than the normal text-based forums. While some members are speakers and add to the discussion, others are listeners and are there to purely enjoy the discussion. As you can imagine, not everybody has speaking privileges because this would soon descend into chaos. This being said, you can put your hand up to talk - if given permission, you’ll join the speakers and add your own views via audio.
Users can create groups as long as they schedule a regular conversation. This allows them to start conversations and send notifications to the same people each time. Interestingly, once the conversation ends, all recordings are removed, and the users can’t access them again.
With all of this in mind, it explains why you’ve seen Clubhouse compared to forums, Snapchat, podcasts, and more. It’s a bit of everything, and some people have also compared it to conference calls and talkback radio. It takes features from all of these things and throws them all together into one cohesive audio conversation and debate platform.
We could write a whole essay on why Clubhouse has found success, but it could be construed as a culmination of various factors. Firstly, the global pandemic has led to a very different society. One in which the vast majority of people have fewer social interactions than before. As people seek new ways to interact with others, Clubhouse sits ready and waiting to welcome them.
All over the world, events have been canceled whether it’s conferences, product launches, car festivals, discussions, or Q&A sessions. Clubhouse has emerged as a way to hold these events safely and virtually. As well as discussions, people are using Clubhouse for panel events, Q&A sessions, podcasts, and other types of content.
Clubhouse allows event organizers to put five people into a virtual room and enjoy a discussion. With the five experts having the speaking privileges, the rest of the room is filled with listeners (just as you would have at a physical panel event).
Another reason Clubhouse found success is due to celebrity usage in recent weeks. Among others, you may have seen Chris Rock, Oprah, Drake, Ashton Kutcher, and even Elon Musk holding discussions and interviews for thousands of users. Although only launched in March 2020, it’s now considered a unicorn startup because it has already reached the magical $1 billion valuation.
Originally, the platform was launched by Rohan Seth and Paul Davison. Ever since, investors have been clamoring to put their own money into the company. Around two months after launch, the company was reportedly worth $100 million, at a time where it had fewer than 2,000 users. One of the things that seem to have caused the most excitement around Clubhouse is the fact that only those invited can create an account and get involved in the discussions.
If the platform were open to everybody, would Clubhouse still have the same appeal? This is something we’ll never know, but what we do know is that the exclusive approach has worked wonders for the company. To get an account, you’ll need to receive an invitation from somebody already on the platform. Therefore, we recommend getting pally with business contacts.
Getting an invitation is difficult because users only receive two - if you’re frantically messaging people you haven’t spoken to for five years, they might be inclined to send their two invitations elsewhere before you. In this case, you’ll have to choose a username and join the ever-growing waiting list like all the other unlucky Clubhouse non-users.
No company ever finds this level of success without encountering some teething issues. Although it would have hoped for a painless entrance into the market, controversy has arisen as a result of the content moderation process - industry experts have claimed that the platform hasn’t done enough to moderate conversations. Some users have claimed abuse and other problems while using the Clubhouse platform.
Many news outlets have now reported on the racist, misogynistic, and hate-led behavior by a small minority of Clubhouse users. The platform itself has responded to criticism suggesting that it is against all forms of hate speech, racism, and abuse. It says that the Terms of Service and Community Guidelines condemn this sort of behavior. When a violation occurs, Clubhouse says that safety and trust procedures are ready to investigate and deal with the guilty parties appropriately.
What does all of this mean for businesses and marketers? Despite the negativity, much of the news regarding Clubhouse has been positive, and this is true for businesses too. Lots of businesses are starting to use Clubhouse for growth. Many companies are choosing it because they can combine their marketing efforts and treat Clubhouse as a one-stop-shop. They can get involved in discussions like on Reddit, hold a podcast like on Apple Music or Spotify, network with others like on Facebook and LinkedIn, and more.
To finish, here’s some advice on how you can get started with Clubhouse as a business or marketer.
With any social media platform, one of the best ways to interact with prospective customers and gain authority is by getting involved in discussions. You should seek discussions related to your industry. Even if you can’t get speaker privileges, there’s still lots to be learned. Listen to what people are saying about the industry and you might just learn more about their needs and wants. You might find that your existing products either match these needs completely or are some way away.
Just like Reddit, be willing to join discussions and show your expertise when the time comes. If you can answer the questions of potential customers, it won’t be long before they’re looking to you again.
At first, many businesses are scared to open their own chat rooms. They worry nobody will turn up, people will join and quickly leave, or they’re simply nervous about their presenting skills. With this in mind, bring an industry expert into your room and discuss events in your industry. As you start to discuss common problems and topics in the industry, it won’t be long before people start finding value in your room. Soon enough, word will spread, and more people will join.
If they don’t join the first time, keep holding these rooms until you build an audience. Like any social media platform, you can’t expect success on the first day. You can’t create a Facebook account and expect to have thousands of followers on day one (unless you’re a celebrity of some sort). These things take time, and the same applies to Clubhouse.
As long as you provide conversations of value, people will hear of your rooms and they’ll get more and more popular.
Although Clubhouse has all the benefits of a podcast platform, you need to remember that it isn’t one. Sometimes, listeners want to join the discussion and we recommend allowing them to every so often. With a Q&A, you can grant speaker privileges to those with questions. As long as you do this one at a time, it remains manageable and you don’t lose control of the room. If there are no opportunities to engage, it won’t be long before listeners click away.
Podcast-style content is fine on Clubhouse, but you should also allow some engagement with chat rooms. You may actually be able to answer a common question in the industry and generate a handful of sales.
Clubhouse is a new audio-based social media platform, and it’s growing bigger by the day. As well as being fun for consumers, businesses are finding lots of value too!