What an exciting time for Clubhouse, the live social audio platform that has seen a quick journey from the lively must-have app to the Silicon Valley investor lure on the subject of cheerful disdain for panicked copycat defendants in just a few months.
In defense of the clubhouse, this whiplash is a matter of course for public opinion. Every hot new social media app has to go this route from rags to riches to Twitter ridicule (RIP, Google Plus).
But all of this gossip can make it difficult to separate the hype (or hate) from the truth that social media marketers need to know: Is the clubhouse actually worth a visit or is it just a flash in the pan that brands should better ignore?
We reached out to our in-house expert – Nick Martin, Hootsuites Global Social Engagement Specialist – to find out if brands should pay attention to clubhouse.
Bonus: Get a free, customizable competitive analysis template to easily assess the competition and identify opportunities for your brand to move forward.
What are the advantages of Clubhouse?
There's something inherently interesting about audio – just look at the podcast boom of the past decade – and in a time of isolation from Covid, it's no surprise the clubhouse popped up in the early days. We are hungry for connection and we hear other people.
The social audience likes live content
The clubhouse is essentially a modern update to talk radio: live, unedited, with the potential for engagement at the discretion of the host. For brands that see the appeal of other live broadcast tools like Facebook Live, Linkedin Live, or Instagram Live, a similar audio event can be a natural fit.
An opportunity to think about how your brand "sounds"
Audio apps like Clubhouse also offer the opportunity to see your brand from a new perspective and present yourself to the world in a new way. “It's interesting to think about it: what does our brand sound like? What is our voice in this medium? "says Nick." This will be the next step for many brands.
That being said, there are some major challenges with live audio that require planning and strategy to overcome.
What are the disadvantages of clubhouse?
Always the intrepid social media investigator, Nick immersed himself in the clubhouse for about a week just trying to really understand. The judgment? The clubhouse just didn't attract him. "I loved the idea, but there wasn't anything that made me want to come back more," he says.
Overwhelming content recommendations
An underdeveloped or possibly defective algorithm suggested content that was simply not appealing ("I somehow got into a lot of German conversations," he laughs). When he got into a room it was difficult to understand what was going on as many hosts didn't offer regular context.
“You have to fill in this context. People's attention is so brief. If you can't grab it right away, you're lost, ”says Nick. "That's what I found at Clubhouse: There was nothing to hold onto."
Reaching the right audience is critical for brands on social media. At least for now, this seems a little difficult in the clubhouse. And it can take your audience a while to find you.
Unclear room etiquette
It was also not always clear what the etiquette for a particular room was: Were the viewers invited to comment or not?
"It felt like hearing someone on the bus talking on the phone, like joining in the middle of a conversation," says Martin.
This could be a disadvantage for brands looking to engage their audience in a conversation. You may be missing out on valuable feedback if your followers don't know how to deliver it.
Exclusivity means a smaller audience
The exclusive model from Clubhouse, which is only available by invitation, gives the platform an exciting VIP feeling. However, the downside is that your friends or contacts may not be around to hang out with them. (A minor flop when it comes to pinning down this "social" part of social media.)
For most brands, getting the audience as big as possible and reaching new customers is an integral part of their social media strategy. This may be more difficult in an exclusive app like Clubhouse.
Is there an alternative to clubhouse social media experts like better?
Although a number of competitor platforms and features have emerged as Clubhouse's success has emerged, Spaces, Twitter's new drop-in audio tool, remains the leading challenger to date.
"I think Clubhouse won't be able to compete with Spaces," says Nick. The main benefit is that you are connected to your follow-up list, so you have an integrated community of speakers and listeners that you are already familiar with.
"I know what they're talking about, I know what their personal online brand is, I have a pretty good idea of what they're talking about," says Nick. "I feel a little more comfortable when I raise my hand because we have that connection."
How can brands use drop-in audio properly?
If you're still interested in trying out Clubhouse (or any other drop-in audio platform or feature) for your brand, a small strategy for overcoming its flaws can go a long way.
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When your more structured webinar or digital panel discussion is over and the questions keep getting asked, head into an audio room to continue a moderated discussion in a casual, intimate format.
Imagine repeating the experience of lingering after a conference seminar and continuing the conversation even after the star of the show has disappeared.
Provide continuous context
A big problem with live content in general is accommodating people who come by halfway: how can you catch up with someone without repeating yourself or starting over?
Take a cue from radio hosts or news anchors who insert a short contextualising sentence into their chatter during a broadcast ("If you just join us …").
Take advantage of the unique properties
Drop-in audio allows viewers to sign up so that they cannot attend webinars or podcasts. Make the most of this special feature and encourage questions and participation. You want it to be a conversation, not just a broadcast.
Don't just wing it
Live shows can seem effortless, but the best laid the foundation for success behind the scenes.
Take some time in the run-up to the show to plan the interview (and book the guests or co-hosts): What key topics of conversation will you meet? Where do you start and where can you best finish things off? You don't need to write a script, but a roadmap to guide you will keep things from getting too off-topic.
Benefit from your content
Once the event is over, the work should not end. Is there a way to package your great content so that others can enjoy it afterwards? Martin suggests wrapping up the main conversations in a tweet thread, blog post, or email blast to make sure they can move on.
Many of the philosophies found in live video streams can also be applied to audio. So, be sure to read our full breakdown of best practices here.
How do you know if Clubhouse is right for your brand?
As tempting as it is to dive into the shiny new platform and give it your all, there are important questions social media managers should ask themselves before diving too deep.
Is your church there?
Building an audience from scratch will be a slow climb. The clubhouse is only available by invitation, so it is difficult to convince your followers and fans en masse. "It takes time to build a community, and I don't know if the community is there right now," says Martin.
Is it worth wasting time on other platforms?
Ultimately, it takes time to really get involved on a platform. And there are only so many hours in a day – is it worth taking the time that you could spend replying to comments on Instagram or monitoring for mentions on Twitter?
If you feel like you are FOMO, or if you might be missing out on reaching a valuable audience by not jumping into the clubhouse rush, it's worth noting that 98% of users on any given social network are in more than a… clubhouses are probably active Instagram too.
"If marketers focus on one or two of the larger networks, they're still going to reach pretty much everyone," says Nick.
Does it fit your social media goals?
The clubhouse can be helpful when your goals involve brand awareness or thought leadership. It's great for getting your name out there or putting yourself at the center of an industry-specific conversation.
However, if your goals for your brand are to increase traffic, convert leads, or make sales, this may not be the most useful place to spend your time.
Do you need help narrowing down your social media strategy? Check out our social strategy template to create an effective plan for your brand.
The verdict: should you put your brand on Clubhouse?
Although he's already on #teamspaces, Nick advises social media managers to give Clubhouse the chance to see for themselves how it works.
"Try it out, don't just flag it as nothing. Your specific audience might enjoy it and you might find something that really works," says Martin.
The key, however, is not to dwell too long if it doesn't suit you. “If you fail, fail quickly. Find out if it doesn't work and then stop doing it. "
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