It’s no exaggeration to say the rise of social media since its inception in the noughties has been astronomical, and today, more than half of the world’s population uses at least one social media platform.
While to begin with social media was all about just that, socialising, it’s since turned into a marketing battlefield for businesses big and small, and offers huge potential when it comes to reaching consumers.
The popularity and large user bases of the big social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) can make it hard for small businesses to stand out in such a crowded space which is why the emergence of a new social platform, Clubhouse, has sent ripples of anticipation throughout the business community.
In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on what Clubhouse is and how getting involved in the new social app early could offer big benefits to your small business.
The Clubhouse app was first launched back in March 2020 offering a fresh new concept in the social media world.
Clubhouse is totally audio-based, so unlike Facebook, Instagram, and video platforms YouTube and TikTok, there are no visuals involved.
Within the app, there are ‘virtual rooms’ in which users share audio clips with one another as part of Clubhouse chats covering a wide scope of topics.
Another phenomenon that’s gained significant traction year on year of late is podcasting, and in 2020 there were a whopping 15.6 million Brits listening to podcasts alone.
Early users of Clubhouse have described participating in conversations on the app as tantamount to experiencing an interactive podcast, so it’s perhaps unsurprising there’s so much buzz around the new app.
On top of that, the Zoom fatigue we’ve all been the victim of over the past 12-months has also contributed to the hype around Clubhouse. Being audio-only means users a) needn’t think about their appearance, and b) can take a break from looking at a screen.
Upon opening the Clubhouse app users are presented with different virtual ‘rooms’ to enter. The rooms are hosted by the Clubhouse member who created them, this user is therefore also the moderator of the room.
Once a user enters their chosen room the audio is automatically turned on and they can listen live as well as participate in the conversation. In order to chime in, the user must ‘raise their hand’ to show they have something to say and it’s the moderator who decides who can speak.
Once the conversation has finished the room is closed and the audio can’t be replayed (although there’s nothing to stop users from recording the conversation).
Here’s the catch, and likely a big contributing factor in why Clubhouse is gaining so much attention, the app is exclusive.
That means you can’t just download the app and start using it, you need to be invited by an existing Clubhouse member, a concept some have coined “real world elitism, but make it virtual”.
Not only that, but while Clubhouse is still in its infancy, its creators have limited the number of invites any existing user can send out to two.
Good to know: You can download Clubhouse and reserve a username but you won’t be able to use it and participate until you’re invited.
That said, the creators of Clubhouse recently announced their 2021 goal is to complete testing on the app and eventually open it up to the world.
We’re no mystic meg, but according to experts Clubhouse is fast becoming the next ‘it’ platform in the space.
It’s recently been valued at a pretty impressive $1 billion and its user base in February 2021 has doubled in size to reach 8.1 million app downloads.
Clubhouse’s rise to stardom hasn’t been without its problems though, the largest of which being the inability to moderate content.
Unlike the other social giants who turn to spam filters and algorithms to automatically pick up on any offensive language (by no means a foolproof approach), Clubhouse’s audio-based concept relies entirely on the aforementioned chat moderators to police what’s said.
It’s early days, but there are concerns this leaves the door open for hate speech within the app.
If you can get your small business invited to Clubhouse before it blows up worldwide you could be onto a winner.
Setting your business up on the app early when it’s less cluttered will allow you more space to grow your following, position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and pip your competition to the post.
Getting a headstart is a great perk, but there’s more up for grabs with Clubhouse.
A major draw of Clubhouse to businesses is the high levels of user engagement on offer within the platform.
Users present within any of the ‘rooms’ have actively chosen to tune in to the conversation demonstrating a conscious interest in the topic. So, unlike on Instagram, for example, where a user may be passively scrolling and see your posts, on Clubhouse they’re actively engaged with your content from the offset.
Business big wigs have been some of the first to get involved in Clubhouse, with a famous chat involving Elon Musk, for example, propelling the platform to new heights last year.
If you can join a room containing a prominent business figure relevant to your industry and your business, you could make meaningful connections and enhance your profile.
Top tip: Remember to only offer meaningful and authentic contributions. Saying something for the sake of it is unlikely to achieve your goal.
If you can get in a room where the discussion is relevant to your line of business and contribute in a way that demonstrates your in-depth knowledge, you’ll take steps to position yourself at the forefront of the conversation and emerge an expert in the field.
In doing so, other participants in the ‘room’ would be made aware of your small business.
More and more in 2021 consumers want to feel a personal connection with businesses and it’s becoming more important than ever to offer that human touch.
The audio-only aspect of Clubhouse, according to early adopters, makes interactions within the app feel more personal and this is reflected in a statement from Clubhouse:
“The intonation, inflection and emotion conveyed through voice allow you to pick up on nuance and form uniquely human connections with others... with voice there is often an ability to build more empathy.”
Businesses have the opportunity to sponsor rooms within Clubhouse and if done right, this can work wonders for their marketing.
The key here is not to sponsor rooms for the sake of it, but to find appropriate rooms where the topic of conversation is relevant to your small business whereby there’s a natural flow from the topic in question to your offering. This way your sponsorship will open up the door to a new pool of potential customers.
Last but not least, Clubhouse recently announced they’ve been working on an influencer programme called the Creator pilot program.
Again it’s invite-only and currently only available to 40 app users, but it’s worthy of note as it demonstrates the future potential of the platform to businesses looking to tap into the high following of social media influencers for marketing gains.
While the Clubhouse app is still somewhat of an unknown to many, early indicators suggest it’s going to make a big splash in the social media world in the coming months and years.
For small businesses looking to make their mark on social, Clubhouse presents an untapped opportunity to grow their following and brand awareness with engaged users in a less crowded space, providing they can get in early (and the current exclusivity of the platform is a snagging point).
Nevertheless, early signs suggest Clubhouse is worthy of small business’ attention and it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for those who get involved.