Clubhouse has been getting a ton of buzz and picking up a lot of momentum. As a brand, here’s what you need to know.. for now anyway. What is Clubhouse? Clubhouse is a social networking app that lets people gather in audio chat rooms to discuss various topics. Clubhouse launched in the spring of 2020 and is seeing rapid growth. As if we didn’t already know, audio is having its moment right now. Across the industry there has been increased adoption of streaming audio and podcast sponsorships giving advertisers a new communication channel that feels new and exciting. Clubhouse seems to be attracting the attention of everyone who is ready for something new and those sick of their go-to social channels. Clubhouse sits squarely in the audio space and is a hotbed for influencers – these two factors combined alone give the app a ton of potential. At the moment, there are around 2 million active weekly users on the app but that number is growing rapidly with invitations to join the platform re-selling on ebay for $150. The ability to join the app is by invitation only at this time, and the app is only available on iOS.   How Does it Work? A recent NY Times article does a great job of laying out how Clubhouse works, “Rooms are usually divided into two groups: those who are talking and those who are listening. Unlike Twitter, Clubhouse is a closed, hierarchical platform: A moderator oversees discussions and has the ability to let someone chime in or to kick out the unruly. In addition to the “clubs” sorted by topic, two or more users can join together and start their own chat room.” Clubhouse can be likened to a podcast with audience participation; panel discussions you can dip in and out of; and the 2021 version of AOL’s Instant Messenger. Adoption and access to celebrities, influencers and public figures has been a key aspect of Clubhouse’s evolution thus far, and will likely factor greatly into user growth on the platform. The NY Times list early members of the club as, “Silicon Valley venture capitalists (Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, both early investors in the app), web-savvy entrepreneurs (Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss), a smattering of performers and cultural influencers (Tiffany Haddish, Drake, Virgil Abloh) and people with random claims to fame (Vanilla Ice, Roger Stone).”   What Are the Advertising Opportunities? As it stands, currently advertising options on Clubhouse are limited. Clubhouse is also ad free, so it limits marketer’s opportunities at this time to working with influencers who have a presence on the app. One thing brands have to consider when working with influencers on the app is it isn’t a place for hard sales yet. It’s not the environment to push brand messaging.  Transparency and authenticity are key. Brands that can engage in meaningful conversations that people care about will be the ones able to harness the power of the platform.  Clubhouse is a great place for purpose driven brands to create additive conversation around topics that appeal to their consumer. Future Opportunity: The structure of the app could lead to impactful targeting strategies, as rooms could be viewed as having very dedicated audiences vested in the topics of conversation. For example, you might have a room that is solely dedicated to how to most effectively plan a wedding or how to most effectively swaddle your baby. Immediate Opportunity: What you can do on Clubhouse is limited for advertisers and brands, but you should begin exploring the app and monitoring user growth closely. Clubhouse has all of the building blocks to become a significant player in the social media space. The continued growth of the app is dependent on ability to attract and maintain users to the platform.   What Are Competitor Platforms to Clubhouse? You know a product is hot when the big players in the market try to replicate it. Twitter and Facebook are confirmed to be working on audio social products similar to Clubhouse. Twitter is slowly rolling out Spaces to users on the platform. Spaces is built on the infrastructure of Periscope, so Twitter has a leg up in the race for a full rollout. Twitter Spaces looks to be Clubhouse’s biggest competitor if they scale up quickly and open Spaces to its full audience of 192MM users. Big-name influencers with established Twitter followings could choose to use their reach on Spaces versus limiting their reach on Clubhouse. This could be a constraint to Clubhouse’s growth. Facebook announced last week that they are working on an audio social product, but details are limited. Given Facebook’s history and how new the audio social space is, they may slow play the role out of their product. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them learn from the wins and misses of the first groups to market to apply those learning to their product. To sum up it all up, audio social is having a breakthrough moment and through one app or another will likely result in a new medium for brands to reach consumers. Clubhouse has a lot of momentum, but it’s yet to be seen which social media platform becomes the dominate player in the audio social space. The net-net of Clubhouse is that while advertising opportunities are limited currently, brands and advertisers should actively be monitoring the space closely as opportunities will arise as adoption grows. Sources:

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