Social media is abuzz with the tales of a new wonder kid, well, a new social media platform, so to speak. If you are moderately active on your social media accounts, the chatter is hard to miss. Clubhouse launched in March 2020 and has already created waves throughout the industry.

For those unaware, Clubhouse is an audio-based social platform that allows you to drop in on conversations between other users, and even participate. Think of a platform full of webinars that you can attend and leave based on what interests one person.

Clubhouse has been one of the more revolutionary ideas to be conceptualized in the social media world. However, it has taken a lot of inspiration from the spotlight that shines on podcasts these days. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth are the people behind the scenes at Clubhouse. When we look back to May 2020, Clubhouse had a modest 1500 users and was valued at $100 million. Fast forward to February 2021, it has been downloaded over 8.1 million times worldwide. The latest funding round values it at $1 billion, one of the latest entrants in the highly-coveted “unicorn club”.

The initial boost in its growth came in the form of Elon Musk, whose interview on Clubhouse filled out the 5000 people per room limit. The interview was also streamed live on YouTube.

The event shot Clubhouse into the limelight, like most things that Elon Musk touches these days. r/WallStreetbets and Gamestonk come to mind. Especially because the interview featured Elon Musk and Vlad Tenev, the CEO of Robinhood.

Now that we have introduced the platform accordingly, let’s look at what makes Clubhouse special and why brands should be taking notice.

 

How Does Clubhouse Work?

Clubhouse is currently an invite-only app. You would need one of the current users to share an invite with you which would let you create a profile on the platform. This sense of exclusivity is exactly what Clubhouse is riding on in its initial phase. Once you receive an invite, you can create an account and begin exploring the app. Clubhouse is currently only available at the Apple Store, but we predict with the app’s surging popularity, it will reach the Android market in the coming weeks/months.

Clubhouse’s appeal comes in its UI approach, as they keep it simple and minimal. It has very little text or images as opposed to the other social media channels. The Clubhouse hallway, which is akin to your social media feed, will tell you about the ‘rooms’ that are active now. Imagine attending a conference. There would be multiple sessions happening in parallel, and you can go in and attend the ones you fancy. The same concept applies here.

“Rooms” are what conversations are called. Just like a Zoom or a Google Meet call, but without the video and just audio. Something similar to that early Monday morning meeting, where you turn your camera off to avoid the embarrassment of failing to wake up in time to do your hair. Except with Clubhouse, it’s designed this way on purpose. Think TedTalks meets podcast without the video.

How each room operates depends on the moderator and the speakers. For example, it could be interviews, open conversations, fire-side chats, panels, or anything of the sort. You can be a silent listener, just observing the conversation per se. But you can also contribute as well, so long as the moderator or the speakers allow you to.

Clubhouse currently hosts rooms where engaging and informative conversations happen on a variety of topics. Pretty much like what media sites like Medium does for text. You choose your interests and you join in on the conversations that interest you. Simple as that.

As it stands today, Clubhouse has a limit of 5000 listeners per room. There is also one important aspect to note: the conversations on Clubhouse do not remain after the conclusion of the discussion unless you have recorded it, unlike platforms like Twitch or YouTube. It does, however, allow you to stream directly onto YouTube or other platforms, which is a workaround that most users have utilized in order to store the conversation on some other platform.

You can draw a lot of parallels from Podcasting, but Clubhouse is far more interactive and lively because anyone can participate (well, technically). There is a growing sense of community within the platform, which is a primary driver behind the app’s rising popularity. It also offers you the opportunity to share your conversations with a lot of people who may not be currently consuming your content.

 

Who’s On Clubhouse?

We aren’t exactly listing big-name celebrities here (outside of Elon Musk, of course), but post-launch, Clubhouse has been well received by the entrepreneur and business community. A large group of influencers of modern business soon started hosting rooms on Clubhouse – including Mark Zuckerberg, Guy Kawasaki, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Gates, and others.

Clubhouse, being an invite-only space, has attracted a lot of professionals from this space. This is good news for brands and agencies that are looking at Clubhouse and wondering about its potential as a marketing channel. Of course, it needs to be said that Clubhouse has diversified a lot too, and soon, it will most likely have a diaspora of individuals and influencers, pretty much like how other social media platforms have.

So what does that mean for the future?

 

What’s Coming Up?

Clubhouse is in its beta phase and the app’s founders are hoping to complete this stage and open the platform up for more users. As mentioned above, an Android version of the app is also in the works and this would see more users come onto the app soon.

Clubhouse also recently announced its roadmap. They are working on ways to enable creators to earn through clubhouse via ticketing, subscriptions, and tipping. Clubhouse is also on the way to open up the app to more users and scrap the invite-only policy which would signal towards more users and a wider reach for your conversations.

 

Why Should Brands Take Note?

From the early onset, Clubhouse is proving to be an interesting avenue for brands.

Audio content is currently one of the least explored content formats, yet it’s a steadily growing market. The rise in the popularity of audio content, especially podcasts, means that more brands are exploring the use of audio content than ever before. Clubhouse is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this.

Here are some of the reasons why you should be early adopters of Clubhouse.

Engagement Is At The Center

Clubhouse offers a great deal of engagement if the experiences of current creators are anything to go by. Most rooms have hundreds of listeners tuned in, and it is common to see 5-20 speakers at any point in time. Most of the early adopters have stories to tell about how their experimental rooms and conversations lasted several hours – much longer than what they expected – simply because the content and the conversations were brilliant.

Network Effectively

Clubhouse allows you to network quite effectively in today’s crowded social space. If the conversations are interesting, it is not uncommon that you would be talking to other practitioners, business leaders, and possibly even someone who could be a potential client, in a Clubhouse room. Being voice only, the app enables (and encourages) direct conversations. With just a few speakers on stage and making sure that the focus is on the conversation alone, the quality of these interactions is also greater than those on other platforms.

The Sense Of Community

Clubhouse has a real sense of community about itself. The rooms encourage participants to join in and focus on one particular area alone. The conversations also promote a real sharing of ideas, and if the discussions are interesting enough, the value that everyone derives from the interaction is even greater. Brands can leverage this and create vibrant communities, and in many ways, be ahead of the curve in doing so. Influencers and subject matter experts can be roped in as well to add value to the conversations, giving you another ace up your sleeve while also being one of the first to the party, so to speak.

Wider Reach

Building an audience for any content you create is a bit tricky these days. The amount of competition and the sheer volume of content can make the idea alone quite a daunting thought.

Clubhouse, at least in its current avatar, offers you the opportunity to have a wider base to reach out to. Unlike many social media platforms, the audio-only format places a lot of emphasis on the various domains, allowing users to choose between conversations in a particular domain of interest. Through very smart notifications, Clubhouse also nudges the users to join conversations where the people they follow are speaking. This type of subtle engagement continues to increase usage, as evidenced in the app’s growing popularity.

 

What’s Next?

They may be the new kid in town, but they are certainly not the only kid on the block. Live audio format, as well as the success of Clubhouse, has prompted the other social media platforms to think about this space. Twitter is already trialing Twitter Spaces, a live audio format space, and Facebook is also said to be working on a similar platform. The coming few months will tell us how this format is evolving, and which platforms will survive and thrive.

 

In Closing

Live audio is a new frontier in social media. If the early signs are any indication of the future, this could easily be the next best thing. Clubhouse has been a revelation in a world disrupted by the pandemic and nearly all forms of social engagements turning virtual.

There has been an uptick in audio-format content recently and Clubhouse is leveraging this as best as it can. Being exclusive and having the big names from various industries gave Clubhouse a huge boost to start with, but it remains to be seen how the product evolves. It also remains to be seen if the virality of both the app and the conversations within the platform is sustainable.

Regardless of what exactly its future evolution looks like, Clubhouse presents a great opportunity for brands. There are plenty of reasons that are compelling enough to be present on Clubhouse, either as individual evangelists or even as brands themselves. Real communities, the sharing of ideas, and the opportunities to reach a wider audience – all these factors tip the scales in favor of Clubhouse. Being an early adopter seems to be the obvious choice!

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