The previous year was full of Zoom calls where eye contact and awkward walk-ins became part of the daily routine. But what if we told you that there's now a social network that feels more like a podcast and is focused solely on just voice conversation—no blurry faces, no missed texts? If you've heard the name Clubhouse being discussed on social media and wondered what this new fad is, you're in the right place—we're taking a look at this popular new platform today.
Breaking into the scene almost a year after it was released, this iOS-exclusive app has quickly generated buzz over the past few months. Its popularity grew exponentially in early 2021 when Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a breakout appearance on the platform. Musk was in conversation with Vladamir Tenev, the CEO of Robinhood Markets, a company that made news after a rapid spike in the stock market fueled by an internet movement.
While the hot-button conversation by itself was topical enough, the format in which it happened is what made Clubhouse really shine. This is because it was live, unfiltered, and could be accessed by anyone using the app. The conversational platform skips all niceties of messaging and text communication and keeps itself strictly a live-audio style app. Think of it as conference calls meets live-streaming, happening inside a social network style interface.
But how is this shaking things up and why do you need to know about it? That's what we're here to break down.
Clubhouse, the next big thing
The app, which currently has over 10 million users, is being used by people across various verticals like company leaders, Silicon Valley investors, celebrities, and some of the top global web influencers. They're drawn to the platform because they can have uncensored audio conversations about their work, industry, interests, and more.
This blog is not going into the steps of setting up a Clubhouse account—you can read those instructions here. Our main agenda is to answer this simple but crucial question: "Why invest time on Clubhouse?"
Investing your brand-building time into a new social platform like Clubhouse is work, so what do you gain out of it?
Early adopter advantage
In the tech world, the early bird catches the worm. We don't have to explain the advantages of trying things in the early stages. This will help you become a brand that's keenly aware of what's happening in the digital landscape and give you a leg-up in understanding new platforms. While Clubhouse is a year old, it's only now that more people are flocking to it, so understanding why people are on it can help you gain a lot of insight. Brands that simply jump on a bandwagon only add to the noise, so it's always better to test waters before something is well and truly labelled "just a fad."
Tapping into conversational marketing
Conversational marketing is considered to be one of the most effective ways of establishing a brand's credibility. This is because it's another step towards personalization, which businesses are still trying to comprehend. While still not a space for "brands" as of yet—unlike traditional platforms like Instagram—businesses are creating interest-based conversation rooms to pull in audiences and shed more light on their own presence—a benefit of indirect branding.
And because Clubhouse offers a new way to give a humanized touch to your business through features like voice note, it makes the interactions feel more real-time. This provides business owners and CEOs a space to create their own unique brand voice that's a step away from the trappings of tried-and-tested traditional marketing, which doesn't have the honest, unfiltered appeal that Clubhouse poses.
Clubhouse's essential focus on listening and live-interaction defies the current social media-mould, which is focused around passive watching or scrolling through similar content. Clubhouse focuses squarely on the content and discussion—the participants are only a hook to get users to flock a certain conversation room. And the fact that the app is devoid of too many visual elements (in an era of visual-first networks) also signals a subtle shift: ideas gain precedence over appearances and interests over carefully-curated messaging.
With financial uncertainties and a volatile market scenario signaling the beginning of the decade, consumers have become even more value-centric and expect the brands they invest in to care about what they do. In a closed community space like Clubhouse, allowing people to be more personal through a live, unscripted conversation space could help some brands seem more authentic and trustworthy.
The results of this social experiment are also quite interesting. In December 2020, a group of performers hosted an audio-only production of Disney's The Lion King on Clubhouse instead of choosing other traditional marketing channels. "What started as a random conversation on Clubhouse has scaled to something much greater," said Noelle Chesnut Whitmore, the play's Executive Producer and Director. "We have so many talented people contributing their time and energy to this performance."
Reaching your community
In the current scenario where steep marketing expenditure is not an obvious choice for many, Clubhouse could offer brands some redefining community building benefits and awareness. It shifts the focus on those running these companies rather than the products or services. Since Clubhouse is relatively young and new, some companies might thrive on it while other businesses might feel this is not their ideal platform yet. It comes down to finding a niche, an interest, or a spokesperson to carry that messaging in the free-flowing conversational format the app has created for itself. Like any other social platform, you'll get the best out of it by spending some time on the app and familiarizing yourself with it.
A quick walkthrough of Clubhouse
For some, Clubhouse might feel like too much of an uncharted territory, so we're going to show you how you can go about setting it up. While we won't go into detailed steps, here's a quick walkthrough of how you can navigate your way around Clubhouse.
The first thing you need to know is this: you can't simply download and log in to the app. Clubhouse is currently iOS-only and requires that a current user invites you. An existing user can either add you, or nominate you once you sign up and "wait" for an approval from someone in your list to get you onboard.
After joining, the user is presented with a list of topics to follow that covers interests and industries. Users can also find like-minded people to follow or influencers to track their sessions. The more conversation rooms and individuals you follow, the more suggestions the app will make based on your activity. Each conversation room has its own "conference call" or live session where you can join and listen—you can also participate and add to these conversations based on the moderators' approval.
Technologically, the app's algorithm also cultivates an individualized experience for the user. Clubhouse offers an interest-focused perspective that shields topics. Users can also create communities around domains of their interest and engage in conversations.
While Clubhouse holds potential for maturing into a fully-fledged platform like its social media predecessors, the app is currently in beta version and is still finding its footing everywhere from content moderation to interface building.
As it stands, the app is yet to define a monetization plan, and it'll be interesting to see how monetization will pan-out and impact the user experience going forward. As Mark Schaefer, Social Media Marketing expert rightly remarked, "I think there is a lot to love about Clubhouse. It’s refreshing and fun. If they can manage their growth and monetize in a user-friendly way, I think they’ll become big. Not Facebook-big, but perhaps Pinterest-big."
Have you used Clubhouse to have conversations and find like-minded individuals or even potential business leads? Tell us about your experience—we'd love to swap notes.
Drop your comments below and let's get conversational!