By Rachel Peck
Unless you’ve been living in a digital blackout, or taking a much-needed social cleanse, then you’ve probably heard of Clubhouse. Social media’s newest darling, marketed as a “thought leadership” platform and an opportunity for small businesses to network on the main stage, is a social media chat room on steroids. While it might seem to make sense for the world’s leading experts in their respective fields to give audio only educational sessions, this exclusive platform might not be for everyone. In fact, I would argue that it’s most likely NOT for the majority of business and brands. But before I go into why, let’s summarize just what Clubhouse is actually about.
A little background
Clubhouse launched in early 2020 as an exclusive platform for celebrities, leaders, investors and global influencers with the main goal of offering them a way to have uncensored group chats about their work, hobbies, industries, etc. The exclusivity is perpetuated by its invite-only status – quite literally, it’s about who you know. Clubhouse began with 1,500 beta testers in early 2020, only to grow to 600,000+ by December. Looking to capitalize on its early success, Clubhouse added in the ability for each member to invite two friends – effectively raising its users to over 10 million by the end of February 2021 and catapulting it to the forefront of social conversations as the next “big thing.”
The platform is exclusive, but how does it work? What’s the purpose? It’s simple really. Users receive an invitation to join the app. Once connected, they can browse through a variety of Clubs and Rooms. One way for users to connect with others is through joining or creating a Club – which is exactly as it sounds and is a group of users interested in specific topics, hobbies or industries. For example, a public relations professional could join multiple Clubs within their work industry, or professional interest. Users can also follow individual profiles.
The actual value of this platform is in the Rooms feature. Users can browse Rooms and attend them like a webinar or Zoom meeting. You can join or leave a Room at any time or ask questions through the “Raise Hand” button. Users can also host their own Rooms, so for example, you could attend a Room session by Elon Musk and host your own Room on best practices for PR agencies in the technology industry. The world is your oyster in Clubhouse and influential users include the aforementioned Elon Musk, Drake, Oprah Winfrey, Ashton Kutcher, Jared Leto and the list goes on. Certainly no one is arguing the popularity or exclusivity of this platform and it’s no surprise many celebrities and influencers were among the first to jump onboard.
Do you need to use Clubhouse?
The short answer is probably not. The longer answer is a bit more nuanced, as you’d need to take into account your business or brand goals, as well as the amount of time you want to spend on something like Clubhouse. Particularly for small businesses, or organizations who don’t have a lot of disposable resources, Clubhouse makes less sense than getting yourself, or a client, a spot on a podcast. It also will have less shareable quality and reach, as you can only consume Clubhouse content if you’re an exclusive, invited user.
Creating long-form audio content isn’t easy, especially when it’s live and unedited – which could raise some concerns for communicators everywhere. Going beyond that, Clubhouse has some privacy concerns that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As outlined in this INC. article, while the user or host can’t record a conversation, Clubhouse does. Additionally, you can’t delete your data or your account, and they outline in the privacy agreement that they do track users
In summary, don’t disregard the positives of a platform like Clubhouse, but do take into consideration that it might not be the best platform for your B2B or B2C business, or client. While this new use of non-video content might be novel, the ease of audio content might not be worth the potential privacy or other drawbacks.