I’m a curious marketer. I like to explore.
I feel like it’s my business to know what’s going on around the place when it comes to marketing, social media, and getting a message out to people.
So, I check things out whenever they pop up and look like they might get traction.
Sometimes I stick around, otherwise, I take a peek, nod my head politely, and press on.
So out of curiosity, I took a peek at Clubhouse.
And within a day or two, I knew I was sticking around.
What’s the attraction with Clubhouse?
Think back to over a decade, about how you felt the first time you heard of Facebook. I guarantee it was unlike anything you’d ever seen or experienced to date.
The whole concept was new, and without knowing it, you stepped into a brave new world.
Or rewind a few decades the first time you jumped on the internet (if you’ve been around that long).
That’s kind of how this feels.
Lots of familiar “elements” but the way it’s all been pulled together and orchestrated is somehow “foreign” and really requires feet on the ground to truly understand and “get” the culture of it.
I see a lot of similarities to the experience you go through when you move to a new country.
You step off the plane filled with wonder and excitement, knowing there’s a journey ahead, ready to explore.
The first thing you need to do is orient yourself.
What is this new land, what’s the lingo (assuming it’s an English-speaking country!)?
What are the do’s and don’ts, the laws of the land?
How are you going to meet people, who do you even want to hang around with?
How do you interact socially and what are the cultural norms?
Before deciding whether you want to put down roots, you want to get familiar with the major landmarks, the places to go, and the places to steer clear of.
And have a clear sense of if you’re even going to like it there.
For me, Clubhouse was kinda like that.
Why does this matter?
I started my career as a marketing professional in the early-90s so helped brands navigate the changes to the industry brought about during the dot-com boom and then a decade later, the advent of social media.
Probably the two biggest societal shifts of our generation that have impacted how we access information and connect with others.
And I know it’s very early days, but I’m just putting this out there – I see drop-in audio as the next major change.
Not because it’s a new-fangled shiny object that fickle marketers are going to run after.
But because it’s democratising information and accessibility to connections and knowledge, unlike anything we’ve seen before.
I’m predicting that in 6-12 months-time it’s going to be part of most progressive marketing strategies.
To be clear I’m not saying everyone on social will move to Clubhouse (or a competitor audio platform when it emerges). Just like not everyone is on Facebook.
But it WILL alter the way we interact on other platforms, and with each other, and that’s what fascinates me most.
So I sat back for a few weeks – observing and just being a curious marketer analysing different styles and watching keenly as this new culture of “drop-in audio” unfolds.
(Sidenote: It’s pretty well known around the traps that the other big social players are rapidly working on something to compete given the momentum it’s been getting)
Now – full disclaimer, I’m still in my first few weeks of the experience, but I wanted to share how I’ve been approaching this brave new world of drop-in audio, particularly from the perspective of a professional marketer – and share a few tips along the way that may help you too.
“OK, I get that it’s cool. But what, specifically, IS Clubhouse?” I hear you saying.
For those that aren’t yet familiar with Clubhouse, it’s like talkback radio meets podcast (specialty topics), meets LinkedIn (lots of networking), meets Facebook groups (Chat but in audio).
Interactive chat around specialised topics, with lots of networking sharing and exchanges, both from experts and listeners alike, kind of like a big group chat but in audio format instead of written.
Or like a zoom without video.
A whole world of different zooms, to be more precise, all taking place simultaneously and all open to anyone.
(You can also run a room is closed, but at this time “most” rooms are open)
And the difference is you’re completely free to wander in and out of any room you like, no hard feelings, no obligation to stay anywhere and never any obligation to participate if you don’t want to.
It’s completely on your terms.
Officially they call it “Drop-in Audio Chat” where people host “rooms” and you are free to drop in and out of any rooms as you please.
There are also “Clubs” you can join based on interests.
You have a “hallway” where you see all the rooms that are available to you, and these are based on the people and Clubs you follow. So, if you want access to more rooms, you need to follow more people.
Also, the type of people you follow and where they hang out is going to determine what type of rooms you see in your feed.
What’s a Room?
A “room” is a closed voice chat with only the people in the room can hear and participate in.
In each “room”, there is a “host” (i.e. the person who sets up and organises the room), and this person can invite “co-hosts” who are called Moderators.
They have a little green bean next to their name to indicate that they are a moderator.
A moderator can give people permission to come on the stage and talk, as well as mute people on stage and move people back to the audience.
When you’re in the room but not on the stage, there’s no way that anyone can hear your audio, but you hear everything else that is happening on the stage.
At the time of writing, rooms are not recorded. There are some fairly serious conversations going on around privacy right now, and things change on an almost weekly basis, so that could very well change soon.
This is what a scheduled room looks like on the app….
You can only access the room from your phone but you do have the facility to share the link with others and put it in your Calendar (helpful, when you attend a lot of rooms!)
And this is what it actually looks like from “inside” a room.
How do you get into Clubhouse?
Right now it’s invitation-only, so you need to get a personal invitation from someone who is already on the platform.
Keep in mind the app is officially in beta, only available to iPhone users right now, so if you’re an Android user you’ll need to wait until May (or buy an recent model iPhone/iPad).
The other thing to keep in mind is that because it’s still in development there are a lot of features that are still being rolled out.
So now we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about strategy.
But just before we do, if you’re interested in the technical ins and outs of all the different features and ways you can explore Clubhouse there are a gazillion guides/courses/freebies out there now about where to start with Clubhouse and all the different features and tips.
You’ll quickly see what a bio looks like, and a hallway and everything else in between.
A good place to start is the official Clubhouse page (although it’s very lean) and there are plenty of very valuable Clubhouse Guides out there that smart marketers will give you in exchange for an email address 🙂
Either way, you’ll pick it up quickly. You can learn through a guide, or you can learn by jumping in and just picking it up. Up to you!
I’m not going to go into all the technical details of everything as the point of this was really to share my own experiences and why I think it’s a smart move as a marketer to dive in! (or at the very least, just dip your toe in the water and explore a little!).
MY CLUBHOUSE INITIATION STRATEGY
I actually joined about two weeks before I became active, I sat on my hands forcing myself some finish some big projects before I started exploring because I knew it would be a distraction – turned out to be very true!
But once I decided to dive in, this is how I approached my Clubhouse experience:
Strategy: Observe, learn, follow some interesting people, listen to some conversations, understand what “rooms” are, and generally get across what Clubhouse “is” and how it works. I felt like a total noob in those first few days and it took me a few goes to get the hang of it.
Personal Challenge: Speak in at least one room.
Challenge accepted: I followed a mate I know in business into a room which completely weirded me out, they pulled me up on stage immediately (I later found out this is not normal clubhouse practice!) and put me on the spot and asked me to introduce myself. It felt completely weird but I did it anyway, ticked my goal, and laughed it off.
Strategy: Continue to observe but pay more attention to Clubhouse etiquette, different room styles moderator styles, paying particular notice to how each experience made me feel.
Personal Challenge: Host a room of my own.
Challenge Accepted: I plucked up the courage to create and host a room of my own. Within the first few minutes, it was going really well, I had a bunch of people in the room and then Clubhouse kicked me out of my room. The first and only time that’s EVER happened to me. Not once since. I couldn’t get back into my own room, apparently, the people who were in there stayed and had a nice chat.
I did try starting a new room and I had two kind friends join me and so I shared the content that I’d prepared with them there and we had a nice little chat.
Strategy: Start putting myself out there a bit more, speak up in some rooms, and go on a stage in a larger room. Start building relationships with people I’d like to connect with more on Clubhouse. Be adventurous and explore a wide variety of different rooms, not just the ones I’d typically go in.
Personal Challenge: Host a proper room from start to finish. Speak on stage in a larger room.
Challenge Accepted: Not only did I go up and speak on stage in a large room, but I also became a moderator which was a great experience.
I’ve done plenty of professional speaking in my time, and facilitated plenty of panels, but the audio experience is different and took some getting used to.
Apparently it’s very normal for those first few days/weeks and completely to be expected. So be gentle on yourself and give yourself plenty of grace just to listen, and start speaking in some smaller rooms when you feel ready.
I really did fumble around a bit at first but every time I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I got more confident and I met some really nice people along the way too.
Strategy: I was keenly observing how people are using Clubhouse, how marketers are using it, how brands could use it, what the risks could be, and basically immersed myself in Clubhouse culture for a week.
Personal Challenge: Host a room on behalf of an established “Club” (which you can join, and then when you start a room inside the club, all the other club members are invited)
Challenge Accepted: I was invited to host a room on behalf of the “Thought Leadership and Branding” Club, and was joined and supported by several well-established Clubhouse moderators (by established I mean they joined in November or December, whereas I only joined at the end of January!)
(Sidenote: It does feel like things are moving so fast on the platform that a week really does feel like a Quarter in real-time”)
Anyway, back to my Week 4 Challenge – I hosted an extraordinary room, a few hundred people came through, marketers, entrepreneurs, corporate professionals, coaches, students, business leaders and an assortment of others who resonated with the discussion topic “What Makes a Good Thought Leader?”
Along with the moderators, there were some amazing people who hung out with me on stage – I had a professional casting director from LA, a celebrity vegan chef, a well -known marketer in the USA and a bunch of other amazing people who all joined me in discussing the topic and answering questions from those in the room.
Definitely a highlight of my clubhouse experience.
And what makes it even more powerful is that I’m now in contact with many of those people even after the room. Seriously high-calibre people I never would have met or connected with previously. And several of them have messaged me privately too. And some are leading to business relationships too (more on that later!)
My take on it so far
So, four weeks into actually using it (I had it for a week or two before I started using it!) I now have a good sense of what it’s about and am starting to slowly think about my own approach and how I’m integrating it into my business.
If you are thinking of getting on, I recommend it, and now is a great time, even if all you do is reserve your name, explore a little and watch and observe.
My plan from here is to host at least one room a week, which I call “The Content Connection” as we touch on different aspects of content marketing – and also participate in a couple of rooms a week with people I know.
It’s a fairly conservative approach as many people spend pretty much their whole day and night on there – and I’ll agree that it’s completely addictive, but it’s also about boundaries and that “always-on” approach doesn’t work for me.
Along with running a business, I’m also a mum to young children – so it’s all in moderation as far as my own personal approach goes.
Yours might be different. More power to you!
But it is lots of fun, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time to date, and look forward to many more.
To round out this piece – and before I touch on the business aspects – here are a few of my more memorable moments over the last few weeks…..
Favourite random celebrity moment.
Found myself in an intimate room hanging out with Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and 30 others listening and chatting along as he cooked soup.
Most frustrating moment
I was on a stage speaking with one of the OG marketing thought leaders Ann Handley when my daughter had a tantrum and burst into my room and wouldn’t calm down. I had to jump out of the room much to my disappointment. Sometime later, once she had settled, I was able to re-join, and I did manage a further chat with Ann, which I loved!
Most awkward moment.
I won’t be naming names, but I saw a friend in a room that looked interesting while I was in my experimenting phase and so I jumped in, immediately to find out that there was an X-rated chat – urm……yeah…. I’m heading out of this room, thanks.
Do keep in mind whatever room you go into on Clubhouse, anyone who follows you can see it. There’s no such thing as privacy setting on this platform, you can’t hide your behaviour or who you are.
Most embarrassing moment.
It was a Saturday night and I thought I would just listen in on a great conversation with some really interesting Australians. Some high profile journalists, media personalities, scientists and brilliant not for profit leaders.
I got pulled up on stage and invited into the conversation, which was great, so I obliged. The only problem was I was in the bath!
Now Clubhouse is audio only (thankfully!) so I thought I could get away with it until the host asked me if I was in the bath?!?!? I asked how she knew and she said she could tell by the echo, and also a slight splash had given it away. Duh.
It kind of became the running joke, and even though it was a tad embarrassing it was fun and memorable at least 🙂
Most exhilarating moment
Moderating a high-energy room for 5 hours straight. A good buddy jumped onto a room at 9 am one day and I did too and she made me a moderator of her room and shortly after hundreds of people joined. I thought it would go on for an hour, but five hours later I was still there. Amazing people were dropping in and out all day, the conversation was off the charts.
Most beautiful moment
The room I hosted about thought leadership (see my Week 4 challenge). It was supposed to be focused on business and marketing – and yes there WAS plenty of that – but with the amazing speakers that came into the stage, it turned into a celebration, therapy, church, and cheerleading session all in one. The comments were flying from people who said they just dropped in and were riveted and had to stay.
These are just a few of the experiences I’ve had over the last few weeks.
All random, unexpected, and that’s the beautiful thing about this platform. You just can’t predict what’s going to happen.
Why I like it
It suits people like me who:
- Find it hard to hold a schedule due to family etc. You can just listen in anytime.
- Can’t be bothered doing hair and makeup. Audio is very liberating, knowing everyone’s in the same boat.
Obviously, those that stand to gain the most right now are those putting in untold hours, and it is addictive and I can completely see how that could happen.
I don’t have the luxury and have to be very mindful of my time, and even that’s a work in progress as I’m spending more time there than I otherwise would on marketing and socialisation activities.
But it is a truly unique and special experience being part of this new platform.
Being able to learn and grow together.
Where no-one is the “expert” or has the monopoly on it, because how this thing works is being co-created by all the users as we go along.
So how does it work for business?
Great question, and I’ve prepared another piece specifically on that topic (coming soon), because to do it justice warrants more than just a quick mention.
I have lots of observations and notes I’m working through and unpacking as every day I’m learning more about this and seeing new ways to use it.
But what I can tell you that I’ve already observed 10-15 ways I’m seeing people (and even some brands) use it in their marketing, and can attest to the business benefits I’ve already received from it myself.
Keep in mind first and foremost that it’s the antithesis of a sales arena.
Anyone who goes into sell immediately comes across as spammy and distasteful.
The premise of the platform is about delivering true value, and as you do, people look you up on their own terms, and (if you’re smart about it) they find themselves in your world outside of Clubhouse as well.
More to come in the next issue of AMI’s Marketing Voice with a solid list of points you can consider as you mull over how you might approach it from a business perspective – whether that’s for your own business or if you’re doing it on behalf of a brand or a client.
I do see a tremendous future for the platform. I’m excited about it.
There are way more questions than answers at the moment about how it’s going to work – for people, for businesses, for brands.
Lots of loose ends still unravelling.
But I love that we get to play in the sandbox. And explore a new version of human connection.
It does feel very human.
You can’t fake yourself on Clubhouse.
And that’s where it gets interesting.
People who purport to be something on social media can’t hide behind filtered images and hollow words.
You can’t outsource your Clubhouse appearance. You can’t get someone to go in and speak on your behalf.
It’s you all the way, baby.
And so, there’s a lot to love about it.
In the last few weeks, I’ve met and had extremely special experiences with people I never would have thought I’d connect with. And this is just the start. I’m only a month in!
There’s so much more to explore. To learn. To enjoy.
And I for one am optimistic about what it’s going to mean for connection and how people communicate globally.
Keen to get in on the action? I highly encourage you to give it a go…..just have some fun with it initially, and ease yourself in.
Two ways you can get on.
- Just find a friend who’s on there and ask them for an Invitation. You’ll need to give them your telephone number.
- Download the Clubhouse app from the Appstore, sign up and reserve your name, and if anyone on your contacts list is already in there, they’ll be notified that you’re waiting for an invitation and you may find that a friend is able to get you in pronto!
Look forward to seeing you there!
Already you on Clubhouse? Let’s connect! I’m @ninachristian
I’d also love to hear about your experiences if you’re already on the platform. Share below!
This article was contributed by Nina Christian (CPM), FAMI, and AMI State Chair (Vic).