By Yuval Ben-Itzhak, president at Socialbakers.
Today Clubhouse boasts around 2 million weekly active users, with many people still waiting to receive an elusive invite. It is undoubtedly the app of the moment and the talk of the town. Appearances by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have propelled it into the limelight in the past weeks.
But equally, as many people flock to join chats, there has also been feedback that the app can also be a time bandit, with users spending hours listening to conversations until they strike an insightful nugget of information.
But just what is so hot about Clubhouse?
Essentially, the application is giving people access to stimulating conversation in a time where the global pandemic has forced many of us to take distance. It is also, and this is pretty unique, democratising access to inspirational leaders, celebrities and education.
So, what could the rise of Clubhouse mean to marketers?
Based on what we know about the app today, I can see endless possibilities for marketers to reach and target audiences with relevant content. Very much in the same way that marketers leverage smaller influencers to reach and engage with an audience on a specific topic, such as make up or fitness, Clubhouse rooms could serve the same purpose.
Another aspect of Clubhouse that should make it appealing to marketers is the direct contact it gives them to their audiences.
Now more than ever, consumers look to brands to be authentic, approachable and trustworthy. Brands opening themselves up to the interactive Clubhouse format are likely to win points in the credibility stakes with their customers and potential customers. Clubhouse chat rooms could provide the perfect environment to showcase the brand’s expertise and build credibility.
The platform clearly has the potential to be a powerful tool for marketers, but in the digital world, success does have its price.
With around 2M weekly active users, Clubhouse’s direct reach is small today if you compare it to the established social media platforms. One thing’s for sure, however, when Clubhouse does decide to go mainstream and open itself up to users and advertisers, it will face the same challenges as the other social media platforms – content moderation and digital pollution.
Facebook and Twitter have long wrestled with the challenges of content moderation, employing a mixture of technology and manpower to tackle the issue. But what will Clubhouse users feel when the platform loses its raw and unfiltered appeal? And how will the platform moderate audio content? Clubhouse did issue a post on Community Moderation, which is undoubtedly a good start. However, the guidance at this point seems to depend heavily on individuals behaving well and following established guidelines and less on technology to help them manage moderation at scale.
Clubhouse members report on conversations with business leaders, thought leaders, influencers and celebrities. They talk of discussions on everything from music and philosophy to stand-up comedy and a sprinkling of everything in between.
Where else can users have such an experience today? The answer is nowhere.
But as with any social media application, the longer-term success of Clubhouse will depend on its ability to attract and retain users and to scale up while offering something unique. Today the platform is exclusive, which adds an element of desirability and mystery, but where will the users be when Twitter’s Spaces offering rolls out and if Facebook does decide to launch a competitive format?