Even though Clubhouse has been around for almost a year – the social app launched in April 2020 – it’s just now starting to pick up steam and gain popularity. Leading us to examine this new shiny toy and answer the question: should my brand be on Clubhouse? The answer, not to tease you, is maybe. Here’s an overview of what it is, why it’s going viral now, what we’re excited about and what gives us pause. Need an invite? Each user starts off with five invites to share and they’re burning a hole in our proverbial pocket. Let us know!
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is an invite-only, iPhone-only (iOS) audio-first social media platform. It feels a lot like listening to talk radio or a podcast, and even a little like a conference call, albeit a cooler version. There are a few hosts who moderate “Clubs” and listeners can request to take the stage and ask questions or contribute in some way (like calling in). Users “enter rooms” and follow people, clubs and topics. Everything is completely live and chats are not recorded or saved on the app.
As marketers with a focus on CPG brands, we’ve joined Club CPG and various other marketing groups that discuss a range of topics each week, including optimizing SEO, maximizing Instagram engagement, and launching experiential marketing.
Why is Clubhouse Viral Now?
Clubhouse is hitting consumers at the right time. People are listening to podcasts more than ever and spending more time online throughout the pandemic. The app offers the social media experience with no scrolling required and no staring at the screen, so users can listen throughout the day, no matter what they’re doing. Plus, Clubhouse offers users a world of casual spontaneity and voice-driven humanity – a contrast to the highly polished content and controlled messages seen on other platforms.
Also, it’s a huge influencer opportunity. The app is all about exclusivity and celebrity; you even have to get verified to host your first Club. This has created pent up demand and excitement, but also an opportunity to connect with celebrities in a more casual, off-the-cuff environment. Jared Leto, Tiffany Haddish and Oprah are just a few of the first famous users on the app. No big.
Things We’re Excited About
It’s a free networking opportunity. Clubhouse offers the chance to connect with new people, run into old friends (partly due to the app already knowing who is in your contacts list) and build your own reputation and influence. Speaking of which, influencers are flocking to Clubhouse in droves and so are their followers. They could be powerful spokespeople for your brand by facilitating conversations on topics your brand cares about, as diverse as hiring practices, whole grains, sustainability, etc. We joined a room to hear beauty influencers talk about working with brands and walked away with useful tips and perspective (be flexible and clear + know their brand!) We’re looking forward to registered dieticians joining in next. (Call me, Frances Largeman-Roth!)
In particular, this is a new way for people to connect with your brand’s founder, especially if they’re passionate and have a point of view. Clubhouse allows for engagement, conversation and even intimacy – connecting with real people in real time. Not their channels or their inboxes, but the actual person. Who doesn’t want that? And while brands are starting to join in – AdWeek reports Kool-Aid, Square and Slice have made their debut on the app with giveaways and a few OH YEAHs – according to the Clubhouse community guidelines, it’s a place for real people, not mascots.
There is a niche for everything under the sun on Clubhouse – from food and lifestyle to marketing and wellness. Other topics we’ve seen include representation, start-ups, flipping houses, song writing, meditation and cryptocurrency. You name it! The app has a calendar showing upcoming events, so you can plan ahead. But don’t let that stop you from wandering into a room and listening in – sorta like those conference we used to go, sometimes it’s boring and you’re wondering why you’re there and other times you come across something great.
Things That Give Us Pause
Part of the appeal – invite only – also creates a barrier. If you don’t have a friend with an invite, you may not get to participate in the discussion. Message us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you one! You can also get on the waiting list by downloading the app (again, it’s only available for iOS) and submitting your phone number.
This one is obvious, but with the open dialogue format, it could invite hate speech or other inappropriate conversations. While the app has some measures in place to prevent abuse — the ability to block users, to make rooms private, and to report incidents — Clubhouse has been criticized for having poor or inadequate moderation tools that allow misinformation and hate speech to spread. The company says it’s working on improving them. Be ready if your brand is joining the conversation by considering what could go wrong, and then much like your community management, have answers and responses queued up.
Finally, Clubhouse conversations have a small content shelf life: they disappear on the app after they are conducted. Yet, someone could record it separately and put it out another website. Clubhouse is working on adding encryption, so this doesn’t happen in the future. In the meantime, to borrow from a well-worn phrase, what happens on Clubhouse may not stay on Clubhouse.
A good way to get started? Sign up. Check out the calendar. Listen in. We’ll continue to monitor this new platform and share insights in our FLAG THIS newsletter. Sign up here.