What’s in this article:
- Audio platforms have exploded over the past year – Clubhouse is one of the best-known names
- Clubhouse allows brands to connect with their customer through the engaging power of live events on a virtual platform that keeps the focus on the content of the words and ideas rather than looking good on the screen
With so many social media platforms out there, how do you select which one is a good fit for your B2C brand? The answer is the one that delivers an engaged audience, which may just be an audio platform.
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Audio platforms have exploded over the past year. While Clubhouse is one of the best-known names, it is far from alone. Jersmiah Owyang lists 42 companies, a number that has likely grown since he posted it:
- JoinClubhouse ($1B valuation)
- Twitter Spaces
- Facebook (reportedly)
- Fireside Chat (Mark Cuban)
- Locker Room
- Seventh Ave
- High Fidelity
- Tin Can
- Spotify (Acquires Lockeroom, listed above)
- Reddit (reportedly)
- Hear Me Cheer
- Listen to Blast
Ideal conditions for audio medium
It’s a phenomenon being around at the right time when online content consumption skyrocketed under lockdown conditions – offering just the right level of interaction. Owyang calls audio a “‘Goldilocks; medium.”
When text alone doesn’t cut it, and video makes too great a demand on attention, “social audio is just right,” he explained. It’s sufficient to feel connected to the speakers and audience members without demanding you not engage in other activities at the same time the way video does.
In fact, Owyang chalked up one of the reasons so many embraced voice to: “Fatigue from too many video conference calls” while everyone was working or attending school remotely. “Clubhouse is made for this moment,” observed Mark Schaeffer.
What are we talking about?
Clubhouse is an invitation-only live participation experience app that is available in the App Store for iPhone. The invitation requirement coupled with the ones allotted to each person increases the appeal of exclusivity and allows individual communities to be particularly selected rather than formed by anyone who may think of coming on.
The live aspect means you really have to be in the conversation while it’s happening.
Nothing is recorded for listening to on-demand. There are also no written comments or private messages.
Voice and interactivity virality appeal
For participants, it would be rather like virtually entering a salon of the 18th century. You can merely listen to those conversations or raise a hand to speak yourself. Those who attain moderator status are empowered to call others up to speak.
Clubhouse interactions are always limited to voice. That makes it appealing for people who are more interested in what others say than how they present themselves. It’s also ideal for those who don’t want to have to look camera-ready to speak their piece.
The app notifies users when someone they follow is presenting. Clicking on that notification enables them to instantly join in as a listener.
The marketing opportunity
While Clubhouse’s sun is still near its zenith though, there are several ways for B2C brands to capitalize on its popularity to connect with relevant audiences. The following approaches allow them to build their brand, become a source of information, and get more attuned to their customers.
- Sponsor content
This is not all that different from the type of marketing that some brands have adopted for podcasts, another voice medium that has risen in popularity over the past few years. See Why It May Be Time to Add Podcasts to Your Marketing Arsenal. As the case for podcasts, you can find distinctive audiences to target with Clubhouse based on who gravitates to which personality and topics.
- Join rooms and participate in conversations
Representatives of brands can join rooms that are devoted to topics that relate to your business. Here quality trumps quantity: it’s better to join a smaller group that is truly on target for your niche than a larger one that is not as relevant. Just listening to what is being said can be valuable, but they can also build brand awareness by joining in and sharing expertise.
- Set up a room of your own
Just like brands can set up their own podcasts, they can also create their own rooms on Clubhouse that gives them a great space in which to get to know their audience. This can prove invaluable for gaining insight into what they like and don’t like about your products or services and what to work on for future offerings.
You can select to make the room open to the public or limit its users you select by making it “closed.” An in-between option is “social,” which makes it open to any users you follow.
- Collaborate with others
In some situations, it may be mutually advantageous for two brands to get together as co-hosts for a room or an event. That way, each one can bring in their followers and gain a larger audience together. It’s a win-win for each brand and their thought leadership positions.
The downside of the platform
While the platform may appear to be a good fit for some brands seeking to engage their customers, they should be aware of some of the pitfalls of the platform that Schaeffer identifies: Namely the fact that content disappears, the need for repetition if people in the audience have heard what you’ve already addressed, and the problem of scaling up a platform that is built for intimacy.
The live aspect means that what is here today is completely gone tomorrow, which means you don’t gain the usual SEO advantage you have for recorded and textual content: “There is no record of your content. Nobody will find your conversation on a Google earch or even a Clubhouse search. I think a major reason to create content is the opportunity to be discovered in a way that leads to vast awareness,” Schaeffer says.
He’s also not a fan of the ebb and flow of participants in an ongoing conversation:
“Let’s say you start a room to talk about gardening ideas. Fifteen minutes later, new people are in the room asking the same question you answered at the beginning of the program. In essence, you keep creating the same content over and over. And if you do a new show, it will probably happen again.
Finally, the question of applying procedures built for a “small and invite-only” set up for much larger groups: “How would a person manage a room with 10,000 people raising their hands wanting to talk?” Schaeffer asks.
Aside from those specifics, he doesn’t think the demand we currently see for Clubhouse is sustainable. “What happens when the pandemic is over, the economy comes back, and people are busy with full schedules?” Schaeffer asks.
He suggests a parallel between the rise of audio platforms in 2020-21 with “the earliest days of the social web, around 2009.” That was a time of recession when a variety of platforms emerged only to collapse “once people went back to work.”
For that reason, he believes that Clubhouse use will drop significantly “once the pandemic crisis begins to ease and people go back to work and their busy lives.”
It’s possible Schaeffer is correct, or perhaps the smaller audio platforms will be the ones to fade away, leaving Clubhouse as the one that remains, just as Facebook outlasted its competitors and even drove Google+ into the ground.
At present, Clubhouse does offer the appeal for brands to find an efficient way to connect with their customer and connect through the engaging power of live events through a virtual platform that keeps the focus on the content of the words and ideas rather than looking good on the screen.
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