The Silicon Valley Unicorn. When a platform that isn’t even out of beta has a valuation of a Billion dollars, as marketers we need to take note right? Absolutely
In May 2020 shortly after the world was thrown into disarray by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Clubhouse, a new social media site, focusing on an audio experience, entered Beta with around 1500 members. It was already being valued at $100 million dollars and it didn’t even have a website. Members trickled in through the year and then in December, it experienced hockey stick style growth. According to Backlinko, Clubhouse now has 6 million users at the time of writing (Feb 21), that’s up from 600k just two months ago.
Clubhouse marketing stats
Searches for “clubhouse app” have increased by 99x over the last 6 months according to Exploding Topics (below). They are up over 3250% over the last 90 days.
Source: Exploding Topics.
Google Trends (below) shows a dramatic increase in search interest for “clubhouse” from mid-Jan.
Source: Google Trends
There is a huge level of activity and interest in the term ‘clubhouse’. Almost every question for this term on Answer the public is to do with the new app.
Source: Answer The Public
Since the beginning, Clubhouse has been operating on an ‘invite only’ basis. A clever marketing ploy using exclusivity or a way of protecting the platform from falling over while it scales? Who knows, but it’s working all the same. The only thing I have found odd is that it currently only offers an iPhone app, although there is talk of bringing an Android one in this year.
There have been a few key moments since the app blew up.
- On Dec 25 2020 there were two shows with a 40 strong cast of the Lion King Musical.
- On Jan 31 2021 Elon Musk made his debut to a max-ed out room (5000).
- On Feb 4 2021 Mark Zuckerburg made his debut.
Other famous names on the platform include Opera (obvs), Drake, Kevin Hart and even MC Hammer (I heard him speak in a room and was very impressed). I’m beginning to wonder how long it’ll be before Trump joins!
Clubhouse platform 101 for beginners
Imagine yourself in a huge building, full of corridors. Each of these has thousands of rooms, each with their name above the door. Some of these corridors are called Clubs, which you can join. You can walk these corridors till your hearts content, opening each door silently and standing at the back of the room while people on stage debate the topic of the room in front of an audience of people listening.
The people on stage suddenly ask if anyone from the audience wants to come up and to raise their hands. A few do, and they are asked to join the moderators ‘mods’ on stage. When they get up on stage they are asked if they have a question and the panel debate it. Everyone sits with their microphone muted so there is no background noise while people speak. Usually, these rooms have multiple ‘mods’ but one or two of them take the lead in hosting the room and keeping control. If that room’s not for you, you leave silently and go back out to the corridors.
There are rooms for everything and naturally, as the platform grows, diversity of topics follows. I’ve come across rooms for mindfulness, comedy nights, dating, meditation, and even silent rooms for just spending time with others focusing!
Clubhouse Influencer example
One of the first rooms I joined was “9am in London”, a room committed to there being ‘No Agenda, Only Vibes’. It’s hosted by Abraxas Higgins who I first met while he selflessly ran a welcome room to the app. Abraxas is now an app-wide sensation and influencer with over a quarter of a million followers.
I caught up with Abraxas and he had this to say about the app:
“At last, there’s a social media app where pretty pictures and controversial 280 character messages can’t garner you attention. You actually need to have some lexical ability, some whit and some humour. If you’re introverted this app gives you a voice, one you may not have been willing to use on other social platforms. It’s my absolute pleasure to be influencing and serving an audience wider than I could have ever imagined.
As with all apps and new technology, there will always be people who abuse it and you must be wary. Clubhouse is just a microcosm of the real world, the good the bad, and the ugly. However, I see myself as a part of the good.
This weekend I ran the app’s first welcome room for blind Clubhouse users using screen reading technology with Neil McCullough (a blind clubhouse user). Over 400 people attended and we all learned so much together. I think this is the future of social media where authenticity and providing value are the trading currencies. Come and join me in a welcome room someday, I’d be happy to show you around.”
When you find people you like the sound of, perhaps your friends and contacts, you follow them. Here lies the genius. When those people speak in a room (not when they are simply in the audience), you are sent a push notification to let you know. This is where the FOMO I mentioned kicks in. When you follow Zucks and see that he’s talking in a room at 11pm at night, your phone flashes and it’s hard not to jump in and get involved.
Two hours later, bleary-eyed you’re still listening to your transatlantic friends talk about the future of Teleportation or something! The slightly more positive way to look at this is your experience is curated by the people you follow.
A really interesting debate is that of how the platform will monetize. There are lots of theories around, some of which we’ve seen on other platforms (remove ads, premium analytics, firehose style data). Then there are the platform-specific ones – premium rooms & clubs, sponsored audio influencers, etc. One of the most exciting for me is if they adopt a model similar to YouTube where they share the revenue with creators. That could make a lot of people, very wealthy.
What marketers need to know about Clubhouse
One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Audio is here to stay and either Clubhouse, as a first mover, or one of the big platforms copying it WILL win this space.
The app is suffering a fair bit of negative press as any new innovation in the early adopter stage does. Issues and debates around privacy (are rooms being recorded) are rife. There are cliques developing and people ‘peacocking’ which is sometimes hard to navigate and not get caught up in.
Last Friday I ran my first room with Becky who works with me at Optix and Owen who runs a Sales & Lead Gen business. We innovatively called it “Sales and Marketing Tips for SMEs”. We didn’t have huge numbers but we enjoyed the two hours we spent riffing about the subject and for us, this was a learning exercise. We agreed at the end of the session we’d run the same room weekly to see what traction we can get.
You will find us on Friday lunchtime 12 – 2. If you follow me on the app, you’ll be told when the room is open. We’d love to chat with you there.
Your Clubhouse marketing strategy
This is going to depend on the kind of marketer you are. Either you’re happy to wait for the early adopters to find the pitfalls, bugs, and potentially even allow another platform to steal the ground or you’re a bit more of a trailblazer and can see the benefits of being a first-mover. Neither is wrong, they are simply different approaches.
Let’s take a look at the RACE Framework and how Clubhouse might fit in.
Reach – There is no doubt in my mind that Clubhouse has a place in this stage. It’s a great way (especially now) of building a following of potential customers that are interested in what you have to say. By being present and giving value you’ll attract new relationships and opportunities you wouldn’t have had before.
Act – As I mentioned above, those who give value will win. Be worth listening too and people will follow. You gain followers on this platform by being on stage, either as a mod or just speaking. As the platform has no messaging system, savvy users are using Instagram mainly (making their DM’s open) to interact with people. They use tactics such as “DM me with 'clubhouse’ in your message” within their Bios.
Convert – Savvy marketers use marketing channels, like Clubhouse, to reach and interact with listeners who are interested in the products and services you offer. That's how you fill your funnel with high-quality prospects to power-up your omnichannel conversion strategies.
Engage – When I ran that room with Owen, a number of his customers turned up. Some engaged in the conversation with us. There is no doubt in my mind this strengthens the relationships you have with your customers and right now there is an added, additional, emotional bond over sharing the journey together on this new platform.
The RACE Framework is a practical, strategic, marketing structure to help managers and marketers plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing. Ultimately, it’s about using a data-driven approach, applying web analytics and recommended best practices to get more commercial value from your investments in digital marketing. Find out more.
Structure a plan using Smart Insights’ RACE
Part of the Digital marketing strategy and planning Toolkit
Learn how to structure a comprehensive omnichannel marketing plan, using Smart Insights' RACELearn More
Clubhouse content marketing examples
I thought it would be useful to focus on where I could see this app fitting into ‘real businesses’, possibly a little way down the line. Here are a few thoughts on content:
1) A firm of accountants could host a session for Entrepreneurs around Cash Flow, giving tips and advice on how to manage their money. This could be a private room for their clients (added value) or a public room where they generate more followers (and hopefully clients)
2) A networking group could set up a club (corridor) and allow their members to set up rooms within that club. Members would be instantly advised of these taking place, helping those members attract more people to their rooms. Great for Community building.
3) A Digital Marketing Agency could run drop-in sessions. Private rooms for their clients which they could jump in and out of and ask experts in the team certain questions. This would help with retention.
4) Gyms and Leisure centers could host rooms with experts in nutrition/lifestyle/wellbeing and invite their members to come and chat with them.
5) Wedding venues could host rooms on top tips for wedding planning and everything that goes with it. Cross-sell / Up Sell Potential.
6) Professional sports clubs could run exclusive sessions with their players, giving insight into what a normal day in their life looks like and tips/advice to fans.
Content marketing is the process of identifying and selecting relevant and exciting topics that will engage your target audience and help you achieve your communications goals. Smart Insights members applying marketing tools and training to optimize their content ideation and measurement. Find out more.
Ideation for content marketing
Part of the Content marketing Toolkit
Learn how to generate ideas for new, sharable content for a blog that is aimed at attracting organic trafficLearn More
Clubhouse innovation for marketing
While I appreciate the use cases above could apply as well to video platforms like Zoom, the thing I like about audio is the accessibility of it. I’ve listened to rooms while out walking the dog, driving in the car, and even in the bath. We’re living in a world obsessed with the way you look and, on this platform, that doesn’t matter.
I have a four-year-old daughter and the pressure to 'turn up’, post your best pictures and show off your best life is at (in my opinion) breaking point and I’m scared for what it could be like for her when she hits teenage years. On Clubhouse no-one can see you, you can be honest, and once it’s gone, it's gone.
I also love the diversity of the app. I’ve found myself in rooms with people all over the globe, from all different backgrounds, and it's exhilarating.
I think post-pandemic we could potentially see a drop off in interest as people are allowed back out to spend time with their family and friends but that will even out and this new app (or should I say this type of app) will become part of everyday business over the coming years.
If I were you, I would spend time in the app getting to know how it works. I’d walk the corridors and listen in to speakers who know what they’re doing. Jump on stage and ask some questions to see how the engagement works. Play around with running a room to discover if you think this has legs in your industry. My twenty years of experience in the Digital Marketing space is telling me this is something worth paying attention to.
You can reserve your username by downloading the app (iPhone only): https://www.joinclubhouse.com/
Alastair Banks is Co-Founder of Optix Solutions,
A Digital Agency which help their clients with Digital Strategy and Marketing. He also has a passion for entrepreneurship and his own website at: https://www.findingyourpassion.co.uk