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What is Clubhouse and What Does it Mean for Marketers?

  • Rob Patterson

With the success that brands and marketers have seen through leveraging social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, there’s always great attention paid to new entrants to the social conversation. Last year, TikTok truly exploded in the United States, which has caused the platform to go mainstream and led to rich opportunity for brand marketers.

This year, Clubhouse has leapt onto the scene – going from 600,000 weekly users to 2 million from December to January alone. What is Clubhouse and what does its future hold? Below, we take a look at the platform, how it’s currently being leveraged, and what to expect from it going forward.

 

Clubhouse App

 

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is an audio-only social networking app that enables users to host chat rooms and invite others to join. Each room of the virtual “Clubhouse” represents a different topic with its own host(s) and conversation. Users can choose which room they’d like to join and listen in, but many rooms allow for deeper engagement; users can raise their hand and get involved in the conversation by asking questions or offering their thoughts on the topic du jour.

Whether it’s Shark Tank investors talking about startups and cryptocurrency, or Perez Hilton giving tips on how to gain followers on social media, there’s a conversation for everyone involved. To add to the sense of exclusivity that comes from conversing with celebrities and thought leaders, Clubhouse is an invite-only platform. Each user gets five invitations, and they’ve become so in demand that some have taken to auctioning them off on eBay.

 

How are Marketers Using Clubhouse?

With the platform in its nascent stage, marketers are still sizing up Clubhouse for its potential. Currently, the platform has no ads, so the way in has been to partner with Clubhouse moderators and create conversations that live at the intersection of what is relevant and meaningful to both the brand and the audience.

For Black History Month, Martell Cognac partnered with creator Karen Civil to celebrate black female entrepreneurs. Throughout the month, they’ve hosted weekly conversations with guests such as Jennifer Lyle and Premadonna, and they’ve been able to extend the reach of the conversation through each partner’s network.

Others, like Restaurant Brand International — the owner of Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons — have taken to Clubhouse to connect its marketing leaders with fellow marketers and everyday consumers. For RBI, it represents an opportunity to build awareness, establish its employees as thought leaders, and generate buzz around the restaurant industry at a time when businesses are struggling.

 

What Does the Future Hold?

Much remains uncertain about the future of Clubhouse. Not only is there a risk of copycat measures from social media competitors, but the platform itself is still figuring out the path forward. Subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales could all be in the works, and the platform is currently developing an app for Android users. And, as the platform grows, it runs the risk of diluting the engaging conversations that are already happening. Regardless, with a recent $1 billion valuation, explosive growth, and an engaged user base, the potential is certainly there.

As brands ponder how to get involved in the conversation — both literally and figuratively — they’d be wise to explore the platform and check out the topics that are most important to their audience. Those insights will aid in developing a strategy that drives authentic engagement with users. Authenticity is key on any platform, but Clubhouse is clearly one where a transparent sales strategy will be swiftly rebuffed. The app empowers its users to self-police the community, and it’s a duty that has been taken seriously.

Despite the challenges that may come with the still-developing landscape of Clubhouse, brands would be remiss to dismiss it entirely. If you view minutes of consumer attention as a success, how do you feel about an hour?

 

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Sources: “‘Because it’s so new and fresh’: It took a minute, but brands are in the Clubhouse app.” Digiday (2021), “Brands Should – and Will – Love Clubhouse.” Adweek (2021), “Should Marketers Be Considering the Potential of Rising Social App Clubhouse?” Social Media Today (2021), “Will Clubhouse be the Next Social Media Platform for Marketers?” Marketing Dive (2021).