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  • Writer's pictureChris Bowler

How to think about Clubhouse

The newest social media phenom offers niche engagement opportunities for your brand

By now, you not only have heard of Clubhouse, but hopefully, you've downloaded the app and jumped in. The invite-only social media platform is expanding rapidly, with a reported 10 million members. And big names have helped catapult Clubhouse into the spotlight, including Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and especially Elon Musk. Getting your own invite shouldn't be a problem, as long as you have some semblance of a social media network.

And you also know that Clubhouse is a real-time audio sharing platform which can be described in a few different ways: live podcasts with the ability to participate, or Snap in audio form. And for some of the more snarky critics, it represents a self-indulgent 'talking heads' experience which forces brands to pay attention to yet another social media channel.

Current usage and download stats point to outstanding growth. Clubhouse is currently the 3rd most popular app in the “Social Media Network” category of the App Store, according to App Annie. Another indicator that Clubhouse has arrived is news that Facebook is reportedly building its own version of a live-audio feature. And Twitter is already in on the action with its own Spaces venture.

Why else should you pay attention? As a user, Clubhouse provides real-time information on virtually any subject. More deeply, it represents a customer service opportunity where room attendees (topics are segmented by 'rooms') can ask questions and get advice. For example, if you are a small business owner, you can get instant and free information that might be super helpful for your business. And for moderators and speakers who open and manage these rooms, it's an opportunity to build their personal brand, mostly by attracting followers on Clubhouse, as well as Twitter and Instagram which are posted in bios.

For brands looking to market on the platform, it certainly is early days. There is no paid advertising (yet), and the only 'brands' on Clubhouse are individuals, not companies. That doesn't mean there aren't good opportunities to engage. There are a number of approaches to keep in mind.

First, if you are a startup, Clubhouse is a great way to create some visibility and build relationships with other like-minded individuals. In other words, it's a pretty decent networking tool. The investment, really, is just time to spend in the rooms. Build out your profile. Follow influencers, who can follow you back. Reach out to others in your network to host a room and you'll likely attract followers very quickly.

Second, you can employ some clever ways to attract followers on and off the platform. Offer to give away your product (or service) if they send you their address. Collaborate with industry leaders who have a larger following than you. A super interesting feature of the platform are the notifications where a speaker's followers will receive a notification on their device in real-time. They may choose to jump into the room and start following you!

Third, if you work for a larger organization, there still are interesting ways to engage. Similar to Twitter, your C-Suite executives or other employee influencers, can easily get on Clubhouse and participate. You can weave this into your broader public relations and thought leadership strategies. Ideate with your marketing team on how best your company and executive could contribute to Clubhouse. As Clubhouse expands, there will be multiple opportunities to leverage the experience. Perhaps create 'rooms' around your podcast content? Schedule these at regular days and times where other members can participate using the calendar function. Or, create a 'private' room where you control who can join, similar to a moderated community (think Facebook Groups).

Finally, if no other reason, get your company to start to engage on Clubhouse for test and learning purposes. Clubhouse is here to stay, although it will evolve. Expect paid advertising (of course) and how this manifests will be interesting (audio ad formats? influencer targeting?). Consider how Clubhouse may disrupt the conference industry. Certainly whole-sale conference content could be wielded across the platform (private label 'clubhouses'?) or perhaps Clubhouse augments a virtual or physical conference (extending the conference speakers to a pre- or post-event experience?). Imagine future ticketing to events (concerts?) which extend the free-for-now service. There really are several growth paths for the platform, indicating its staying power.

What are other ways to leverage Clubhouse? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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