Get to know the audio-only social app that’s skyrocketing in popularity with influential users, and how your brand can join the club.
Maybe it sounds vaguely familiar, or perhaps you’re already “room surfing” Clubhouse. One thing’s for sure, it’s poised to be the next big social media app on the block, and it’s got everyone from venture capitalists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, to the entertainment community and marketers, like ourselves, signing up in droves.
Founded in 2020 by Paul Davison and Rothan Seth, and developed by Alpha Exploration Co., “the social audio app” has a current estimated value of US$4 billion with over 10 million downloads, and two million active weekly users. And these aren’t just unknowns or early adopters either. Among them are the likes of Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, and Mark Zuckerberg. Not bad for being just over a year old.
But, unlike any of its social media predecessors, Clubhouse is exclusively audio based. That’s right. There are no videos, no pictures, it doesn’t even have any text. Think of it like an interactive podcast, where users are able to either join or host pure-audio chats in “rooms” based on all manner of topics. These rooms can accommodate up to 5 000 listeners, with varying degrees of clearly stipulated privacy.
If this sounds like a recipe for noisy chaos, it’s not. In fact, it’s the balance it’s struck within audio-driven functionality that actually cements the app’s uniqueness. The “club” in the name refers to groups of users who are interested in the same topics. Rooms are led by a host and the host can speak and invite other users to co-moderate conversations. The rest are the listeners. They can “raise a hand” if they want to chime in, while the host decides who speaking rights are granted to. In general, this leads to loads of users who “surf rooms”, dropping in and out at their leisure until they find a conversation that piques their interest.
But more than being unique, Clubhouse has got a few other things going for it. While many other social platforms have, and keep, shifting their monetisation goalposts for major contributors and content creators, often driving them to other platforms (ahem… here’s looking at you, YouTube), Clubhouse seems to have its community at the heart of everything it does (for now at least). With each major update, the app icon even becomes a new black and white visual tribute of one of their most influential users.
To ensure its monetisation scheme benefits all creators, Clubhouse struck a partnership deal with payment processing firm, Stripe. And, taking a leaf out of Patreon’s book, users can send in-app payments (essentially donations) directly to a creator that they’d like to support.
From an end-user perspective, this is great. Not only does it allow the app to be free to use, it’s also free of ads. But that doesn’t mean Clubhouse can’t have real benefits for your brand. In fact, it’s simply a case of ditching a traditional approach, and thinking about your branded content in a way that the app’s users engage – conversationally. Let’s explore some of the ways your brand can start making gains with Clubhouse right now.
1. Get a room – Host your own event
A simple but effective approach is for your brand to simply be present. One way in which to do this is to create your own room with suitable brand representatives and host a discussion about what it is your brand/product/service offering is. And to further support this, you can host pre-scheduled events that will appear on Clubhouse’s bulletin that notifies users of upcoming events.
For example, if yours is an alcohol brand and you’re launching, let’s say, a new whisky, lean into the category. It’s extremely rich, with loads of opportunity to talk about everything from how to make it, to how to enjoy it. Have a conversation like you would with any other person, and you’ll find a natural opportunity to talk about yourself.
It’s a balancing act, though. Clubhouse has built a reputation among its users for being a place for transparent and authentic conversation, so avoid shamelessly punting your brand and keep things light to keep the conversation flowing.
2. Brand partnerships – Collaboration is key
One of the easiest ways for your brand to get involved is to form a partnership with a brand-relevant influencer who is already on Clubhouse. By way of example, a makeup brand launching a new product range could partner with a makeup artist influencer to speak about the brand’s new range in a Q&A format. This allows you to tap into their built-in audience, and also gives you some degree of control over the format of the talk.
3. (Net)work the room – Share your expertise
Follow people, clubs, and rooms that are relevant to your brand and industry. Add your own expertise (again, avoid shamelessly plugging your brand) and inject yourself into the conversation where opportunity arises. Sometimes just being part of the discussion and brand representation is far more powerful than paid-for content. You also never know who will drop in on the discussion. Imagine connecting with an A-lister that loves your brand while you’ve got thousands tuned in.
4. Roundtable discussions – group chats are where it’s at
Get a group of industry experts around the proverbial table to discuss any topic or important issues that link back to your brand, and weigh in using your various expertise.
Let’s say yours is a BBQ brand. Why not invite Michelin Star grill masters from across the globe to share their saucy secrets? Or push it even further and get them fired up about why their local fire-cooking method is the best, all while you stay top of mind as the discussion will undoubtedly touch on things your brand is known for.
5. Spread the word – Share your news
Clubhouse can be a PR marketing powerhouse. Let’s say, for example, yours is a car brand and you’re launching a new and improved, even faster model. You can start a room to announce it, while broadcasting from anywhere you want – even from inside the car or the racetrack itself. Treat it as you would a live press conference, only instead of only inviting journalists, anyone anywhere can join in and ask questions as you race along and hear the engine roaring.
While the platform is still young and evolving, if history’s anything to go by, it pays dividends to get in on the game early. It may not be for everyone though – content is all 100% organic and you can’t control the outcome of anything. We say let go, get stuck in, and start exploring at your own pace.
With a global community at your fingertips, insights to be gained, and genuine connections to be made, however you choose to use Clubhouse it’s a no brainer. Just be sure whoever is representing your brand not only really knows their stuff, but has a firm grasp on storytelling. A good dose of humility, honesty, and sense of community go a long way. Of course, we’re always happy to point you in the right direction if you’d like to take your Clubhouse game to the next level. You know where to reach us.