Why I was wrong about Clubhouse … and you are, too
“Great, a whole social media platform built around the hell of talking on the phone.”
If you, like me, have come to vastly prefer texting over calling, that may have been your initial reaction to hearing about Clubhouse, the buzzy new audio-chat social networking app.
What can I say: I was wrong. Really wrong, as it turns out, because now that I’ve been trying out the app for several weeks I can say with certainty that I’m a big fan of the Clubhouse experience. I’ve enjoyed making new connections, listening to a brilliant and diverse variety of speakers and moderators, and finding opportunities to share my own love of public speaking -- all with the huge benefit of not requiring in-person events during ongoing pandemic restrictions.
On Clubhouse, there is no media being shared aside from audio. No pretty pictures, compelling videos or carefully crafted written copy, just real people using their voices. Thanks in part to the app’s encouragement to use real names and to be accountable, Clubhouse brings the authenticity today’s consumers are looking for. However, it is not the most social platform. Communicating with others is clunky -- no DMs, comments or even a way to “like” the discussion.
Clubhouse has definitely won me over as a user, but as someone with years of experience leveraging brand and influencer relationships, it’s the platform’s enormous potential for influencer marketing that’s the most exciting of all.
Why I’m loving the Clubhouse vibe
In my job, I’m always looking to connect with digital creators of all kinds. Even with Clubhouse’s invite-only status, it’s expanded from 3,500 users in May of 2020 to over 2 million weekly active users in January 2021; this ever-growing audience makes it possible for me and my team to continually identify new talent — especially young, diverse creators — to potentially partner with on client campaigns.
From both a professional and personal perspective, however, what I enjoy the most about Clubhouse is the ability to deep-dive into a great variety of topics. On any given day I can participate in dynamic conversations centered around my interests: social media marketing, personal branding, diversity, building a following on Instagram, parenting, must-see TV … the list goes on and on.
Where Twitter tends to be a free-for-all cacophony of competing voices, Clubhouse is more like being able to wander in and out of well-structured, professionally-moderated panels at a conference — one that is highly interesting and relevant to YOU.
Clubhouse’s brand/influencer possibilities
The more I use Clubhouse, the more I can imagine the ways in which Clubhouse might eventually fit into the influencer marketing ecosystem.
Clubhouse could be used in a number of brand/influencer initiatives, such as for product launches, company announcements or even all-day events (“Holistic Wellness” or “Small Business Marketing”) with specific rooms sponsored by participating brands. In fact, we’re already starting to see brands jumping in with ambassador influencers hosting or moderating discussions.
Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, from nanos to celebrity-level creators with follower counts in the millions. I see the potential for a thriving future for all influencers on Clubhouse: there will always be interest in the outsized personalities with the follower-count equally large, but smaller creators often bring the expertise and credibility audiences are drawn towards. Eventually, we may see Clubhouse influencers being able to evolve beyond just sponsored content with subscriptions, ticketed events or direct payment from listeners.
If Clubhouse holds any interest to you as a marketer or influencer, my suggestion is to get on the app as soon as possible. (Admittedly, this is no easy feat since it’s invite-only, although you can sign up and wait for someone to let you in.) Establish yourself early, grow your network and start participating in conversations — not only will you get the lay of the land, but you may also just find yourself having a great time.
Beyond the pandemic era
Clubhouse’s virtual gatherings are perfect for stay-at-home times right now, but will that kind of environment continue to drive long-term interest?
Only time will tell, but I have a feeling that Clubhouse being all-in on audio specialization will continue to set this app apart from other social platforms (even the ones predictably scrambling to develop a competing product), and that being able to reach highly targeted, engaged audiences without needing to book a flight or even get dressed will always have its appeal.
Tiffany Romero is the president of Influencer Management at Sway Group. She manages the agency's influencer network and helps members build strong and mutually beneficial connections with brands such as Stonyfield, Igloo and Grove Collaborative. Tiffany founded Bloggy Boot Camp and The SITS Girls in 2008 to create a community and provide educational opportunities for both budding and established content creators. These became a cornerstone of the digital influencer world and were acquired by Sway Group in 2014.