One thing I’ve learned about social media marketing over the 12 years I’ve been a consultant: Everyone wants to know what the next big thing is going to be.
At the moment, “the next big thing” = Clubhouse.
Clubhouse is the audio-only app that’s really taken off since May when it launched–especially in the tech/angel investor space. Clubhouse boasts a modest 600,000 users, but that number seems to be growing as of late (it’s tough to find real-time numbers on Clubhouse).
It’s also actively recruiting and attracting many creators and influencers, as this New York Times article explains. Right now, there’s money, there’s influencers and, there’s a growing (albeit smallish) audience.
So, is Clubhouse “what’s next?”
Maybe–but, probably not.
Audio is increasing becoming a medium more people are interested in. According to Edison Research, 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast. And, podcast listeners have grown almost 38% in the last three years. Not to mention tech like Siri and Alexa, which is growing at a slower rate, but is being built into things we use everyday (phones, cars, etc.).
And, it does provide an intimate setting that other social platforms have really gone away from. You can sit in a room with celebrities like Tiffany Haddish and talk directly to them. The intimacy of the audio conversations does have a strong pull for folks–especially those who want to interact with CEOs of tech and smaller firms.
Finally, it’s easy. Like really easy to just jump in and listen to a conversation for a few minutes at a time. And, at a time when many of us are at home with our ear buds in 24/7, that’s a big factor.
On the other hand…
It’s not at all obvious, right now, how brands would participate. Maybe they won’t participate at all. Maybe it will be like LinkedIn where company leaders participate vs. a “corporate account.” This seems to be up in the air right now–I haven’t seen any “brands” out there.
Also, much like Snapchat and Insta Stories, this content is ephemeral. There’s no “long tail” here. Once the content’s spoken, it’s gone. There’s no capturing this content and repurposing it on other channels. There’s no SEO value. It’s real-time content–and that’s it. I’m not sure what metrics companies would even track–because you know they’re going to want their metrics.
Finally, many of the rooms I’ve seen so far seem to be either entrepreneur-focused (the awful “Hustle Room” for example–insert barf emoji here!) or topics that brands probably wouldn’t want to be involved with (“If you Wake up Early on Saturday, your Friday was washed up”). What I don’t see, so far, are rooms where brands could add real value–rooms around thought leadership topics for B2B brands or topics around food, for example. They may come, in time, but so far I don’t see much of that.
One last, and important, point I’d like to make here: I know audio is hot. I know everyone is listening to podcasts now. But, I can’t escape the gut feeling that this is all just a bit overblown. The notion that somehow audio is going to become THE preferred medium in 2021 seems a little crazy–especially as we see platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Insta continue to flourish. Video and visuals are still pretty damn powerful. I just don’t see a big percentage of people flocking to an audio-first platform where it’s tough to establish any kind of long-term credibility. Because, keep in mind, that’s a big part of this, too, for many people. “Going viral” on TikTok is a big reason many use it. Getting subscribers on YouTube matters to a lot of people. And, getting “likes” on your post on Insta is a big deal to some. None of that really exists on Clubhouse. I think that matters in today’s day and age when seemingly everyone is seeking internet fame in one shape or form.
For now, in January 2021, I’d say Clubhouse is one of those apps to kinda keep your eye on (passively), but for most brands you probably don’t have to start developing a “Clubhouse strategy” just yet.