Marketing on Clubhouse: the Invite-only Social Media App

13 May 2021

Developed in San Francisco by Stanford University alumni Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse is an audio-only social networking app, released on iOS globally in March 2020, and on Android for US residents on 9th May 2021. The Android will in due course be rolled out to other English-speaking countries and the rest of the world. The invite-only policy for app users will still be applicable since they are “managing growth”. It has been arguably a successful marketing strategy which, along with celebrities like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg taking to the network, led to downloads more than doubling from 3.5 million to 8.1 million downloads within two weeks back in February. In April 2021, the company announced a Series C round of financing, with the company now reportedly valued at $4 billion.

How Does Clubhouse Work?

Once members of Clubhouse, users are asked which subject areas interest them the most and given suggestions of people to follow so that recommendations can be tailored to their tastes, from fashion to finance, technology to travel. Intended to feel like a virtual conference centre, the app’s main feed is called a “hallway”, with hundreds of “rooms” to choose from. If one catches your eye, click “join” and listen in to a live conversation – it’s as simple as that. Since rooms can host up to 5000 people, users are muted automatically when they join but if you want to put in your two cents, use the request to speak function. A moderator can approve your request and let you join in the discussion.

If the homepage suggestions aren’t catching users’ attention, the Explore function recommends people to follow, clubs to join, or rooms to drop-in on. There is a search bar which allows users to find specific people or topics of interest. Just like most social media applications, users can follow each other, and notifications let them know when people are hosting rooms so they can be added to users’ calendars.

Marketing on Clubhouse

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, online events have become the norm. Brands that weren’t connecting with customers digitally have had to adapt, fast. With many people stuck in front of screens all day, Clubhouse brings with it something new: a focus on the audio rather than visual. The fact that it is live and can let followers really get involved and say their piece, makes it a platform not to be missed. In terms of audience, you can’t get more targeted – rooms are full of influenceable users interested in specific topics, from digital marketing in the real estate sector to tackling misogyny in the film industry. 

Top Tips for Brands

#1 Optimize Your Profile

Since Clubhouse is audio-centric, your bio and profile picture are the only visual touchpoints users will have with your brand.

  • Opt for an eye-catching picture to make you stand out amongst room members. 
  • Include the most important information at the beginning of your bio – what you do.
  • Make sure you use relevant keywords to help users find you more easily. 
  • Mix it up with fun emojis (without overdoing it!) 
  • Add a call-to-action to entice users.
  • Remember that links are non-clickable on the app, but by linking Twitter and Instagram accounts you can help users find and follow you on other channels. 
  • Keep it short and sweet (there are no character limits, but no-one has time for endless scrolling!)

 

#2 Build a Community

This is the main goal when it comes to brands on social media. But know how to do it specifically on Clubhouse. Host discussions on topics that you a truly an expert on, which will bring value to listeners. The key is to think niche, not broad. Once you have hosted three, you can start your own Club, which users can become a member of. Keep them engaged with regular talks, and make sure you share the stage with participants who want to give their input. 

Remember that discussions can only be recorded with the permission of everyone in the room, or it will violate the app’s terms of service. Make sure to write in the description if you are planning on recording and sharing the discussion on other channels. You can either open your discussion to the public or, if you want to keep it exclusive, share it with club members only. Be mindful of time zones and try and choose a time where listeners in your main markets will be able to participate.

 

#3 Be Impactful, Not Intrusive

This is true for any marketing strategy, but particularly on Clubhouse which currently has no official advertising function. This requires brands to think creatively about the content they put out, making it truly useful. Host educational talks to give an insight into your industry or work with expert influencers who can review your products or services.

 

#4 Listen and learn

Social listening at its finest – Clubhouse is unique in that it can be a platform for both B2C and B2B. Sure, the chance to have a live conversation with potential consumers is wonderful. But don’t limit yourself to selling products. Embrace the opportunities to learn from best-in-class industry leaders. Network on a more personal level in comparison to traditional services like LinkedIn. Don’t only host rooms, join them too, and contribute if you can add value. This will also expose you to a different audience.

Brands on Clubhouse

Since the Black Lives Matter movement has been gaining international attention, and people are becoming more environmentally conscious, consumers are looking to brands to take a stance on social issues. Pernod Ricard, a spirits brand, understands that Clubhouse’s open discussion format is the ideal place for these conversations. They decided to work alongside Karen Civil, an American social media strategist, and host weekly conversations during Black History Month celebrating black female entrepreneurs. 

Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the company behind Burger King, used a different approach, hosting an “Open Kitchen” Q&A which allowed listeners to learn more about the company.

 

Clubhouse Concerns

With Covid-19 obliging people around the world to stay at home, it was the perfect time to launch a social media app – as the numbers have shown. Now that people are being vaccinated and restrictions are starting to lift globally, will it still stay relevant? 

As for many social media apps, Clubhouse has also faced data privacy concerns as well as problems with content moderation. The nature of live audio content makes it more complicated for users to report, compared to a Facebook post for example.

The app is still young, and currently has no integrated analytics software to track marketing activities. However, several third-party tools offer these services. Whilst there are no paid advertising features available yet, last month the app launched its first monetizing feature, Clubhouse payments, to allow creators to earn money for their content.

Audio is King

From virtual assistants to podcasts, audio as a channel has been on the rise for years. Clubhouse is the first app of its kind, but rival audio products are catching up. On May 3, Twitter launched Twitter Spaces to all users, while Facebook recently announced a range of “social audio experiences” including Clubhouse lookalike Live Audio Rooms, which is in its testing phase and is due to launch this summer. 

Here at GA Agency, we believe it is important for brands and marketers to be aware of these trends in social media. We are constantly mastering new tools and are always happy to discuss new marketing opportunities with our clients. Looking to increase brand awareness and engagement? Learn more about our Influencer Marketing and Content Marketing services. 

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