By Anna Halstead, account supervisor, and Ashutosh Vats, Associate, Research & Insights
Have you heard the Clubhouse hype? One of the newest social media platforms, Clubhouse, is an invite-only, audio-only app designed to bring together leaders and change-makers from across industries to connect on a virtual stage. Should your brand be in the Clubhouse?
The Clubhouse format mimics being at a conference. The app displays a list of active “rooms” and the topics and users currently participating. The room includes observers, moderators and speakers. Moderators and speakers drive the conversation. Observers are on mute unless a moderator invites them to speak.
Right now, the app is invite only. An existing user has to offer an invite before you can join. Once you’re on the app, there are a range of conversations to join – some scheduled on a recurring basis, some totally spontaneous.
Who’s on the app? According to Audiense data as of February 2021, users are 52% male and 58% from the US. The UK (11%), Canada and India (each 3%), round out the top markets.
Pros: Another Space for Authentic Connection
Clubhouse creates a space to gather and discuss, regardless of physical location. The app notifies users about active conversations, and members can instantly drop in to gain access to creators and thought leaders around the world.
It’s still early for brands: currently, the platform has no ads or business accounts available, so executive spokespeople join and partner with moderators to create relevant and meaningful conversations for both the brand and the audience.
The platform is an opportunity for thought leadership. Liquor brand Martell Cognac worked with creator Karen Civil, a Haitian-American digital marketing strategist, to celebrate black female entrepreneurs during Black History Month. Throughout the month, they hosted weekly conversations with guests, extending their reach through each other’s network.
The nature of Clubhouse also lends itself to word-of-mouth campaigns. Kat Cole, former COO and President of Cinnabon’s parent company, Focus Brands, hosts weekly office hours for fellow businesspeople and entrepreneurs. When she announced, “Hey, if anyone wants some Cinnabon, just send me your address. I’ll send you some,” the topic of Cinnabon made its way into nearly every Clubhouse room for weeks.
Cons: Exclusive and Ephemeral
Like any new platform, Clubhouse has its downsides. Notably, the audio-only format offers no transcription feature available for the Deaf community, raising significant issues about inclusivity and access.
Once a room is over, it’s over. Unlike a podcast that a user can listen to on their own time, conversations on Clubhouse are ephemeral. This feature fuels the feelings of exclusive access, but isn’t suited for brands seeking to repurpose or reuse assets across platforms.
There is value in fleeting content. It trades in long life in exchange for authenticity, which has proved valuable on other platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Twitter Fleets.
Because conversations are spontaneous, un-edited, and often unstructured, this style may not be a fit for every brand or every spokesperson if they’re not willing to exchange controlled messaging for the authentic, real-time content audiences increasingly crave.
Key Clubhouse Considerations
Here are a few factors to think through as you evaluate Clubhouse:
- Know your audience: Who is your Clubhouse room for? How is your room creating unique value for that community? The room is for them, not for you.
- Focus on topics: Create space for sharing knowledge and for conversations that are relevant to your target community (e.g., the ethics of AI), rather than talking only about your brand. A social experience focused on connection, learning, and authentic conversations will encourage participation.
- Commit the time: The more active you are in joining and holding conversations, the better your opportunity to build a following and make connections. Time commitment varies by location and your social-audio strategy. Two hours per week on one set day is a good place to start.
- Fortune favors the prepared: For dedicated rooms or groups you host, take some time to prep a few talking points ahead of time. It allows you to be more focused and ready to jump into a conversation. For spontaneous opportunities hosted by another creator, having a clear point of view will help you to be comfortable working on the fly.
Like every social media platform before, and every one that is to come, joining Clubhouse should be an intentional decision based on how it fits with your brand, your spokespeople, and your ability to commit the time and resources to succeed. If you do decide to join, see if you can get your hands on some Cinnabon.
About the Authors
Anna drives the strategy and execution of integrated PR campaigns. She is passionate about well-chosen words and engaging communications.
Ashutosh is responsible for driving evidence-based business decisions and strategy. He prides himself on leveraging data to better understand customers' needs and motivations, and thus make informed decisions.