Updated: June 2, 2021
Clubhouse, the invitation-only audio discussion app, launched in April 2020. It has since garnered about 2 million active weekly users. The app’s fleeting nature and live-conference format force its content to be instructional, not promotional.
Tactics such as advertising or sponsoring influencers either are not an option on Clubhouse or are not usually effective. But marketers seek audiences to pay attention to a product. So wherever people gather, a marketer will soon show up.
No Ads on Clubhouse
Clubhouse is a gathering place, but the app’s nature makes promotion different. It is not possible to buy an ad such as on Facebook or Instagram. And influencers might work for YouTube or a podcast, but they are too short-lived on Clubhouse.
“The popularity of [Clubhouse] drew attention from brands wanting to sell,” said Amir Hirsh, founder and CEO of Audioburst, an artificial-intelligence-based audio search and delivery platform.
“But Clubhouse is an ad-free experience. There are zero ads. They do not allow ads. I don’t know if that is going to be forever, but like [the beginning of] many social networks, they don’t allow ads so they can focus on growth,” Hirsh said.
Some marketers have tried to get ads or promotions placed into Clubhouse rooms, paying moderators for sponsorships, product endorsements, or 60-character room-naming rights. But these promotional efforts don’t necessarily work.
Clubhouse rooms are akin to live conferences. The moderator and some number of guests are “on stage” and talk while an audience listens. Audience members can be invited on stage to ask questions or add commentary.
But unlike a conference, audience members “peace out” and leave frequently. Others drop in 20 minutes after the room opened. It is not uncommon for folks to drop in and out a few times since some rooms last for hours.
Imagine a moderator starting a room and immediately saying, “Today’s conversation is brought to you by… .”
Not everyone who eventually joins the room hears that message.
If half of the audience won’t show up for 20 minutes or an hour, the sponsor just lost the value of communicating to them. And since nothing on Clubhouse is recorded (at least not natively), those words are effectively lost. When the room closes, no one may remember the sponsor. And if the moderator mentions the sponsor too often, the room can lose its discussion appeal.
What does work on Clubhouse, according to Hirsh, is adding value.
“You have to contribute to the conversation. [Clubhouse rooms are] conversations. They are places where people interact. They want to listen to a lecture on a topic. Or they want to contribute to a topic. They are listening to meaningful content. So you have got to be part of the conversation,” Hirsh said.
A business, say a direct-to-consumer brand, can add value to Clubhouse in a couple of ways.
The first is to be a good contributor to rooms others have started. Consider, for example, a room devoted to sustainability. An online merchant could explain how it is reducing packaging or locating warehouses closer to its customers to reduce emissions.
If these comments genuinely add to the conversation, the brand could win fans and potentially earn customers.
Similarly, a company can start its own rooms to create value.
Imagine a DTC brand that sells bicycle helmets. As part of its marketing, the brand sponsors several popular mountain bikers. That company could open a room and feature those riders. The content would be focused on those celebrity riders talking about their experiences or how the pandemic has impacted their races, but the context is still the brand.
Companies might use Clubhouse to reinforce relationships from other social media platforms, inviting, for example, Twitter followers to join a room to discuss new product launches or features for an upcoming product.
The key, according to Hirsh, is to choose “topics that are relevant to your customers and that are relevant to your brand vision. Health for a nutrition company. Or fitness for a running shoe manufacturer. Safety for automotive brands. It could be anything relevant.”
“Then you have the brand, in a non-promotional way, talking directly to potential customers, potential influencers, or journalists,” Hirsh said.
In this way, the value your business adds to the Clubhouse conversation is similar to what it might add via content marketing or at a live conference.