Should brands be on Clubhouse? That’s like asking if brands should be on Snapchat. My answer to a question like this has always been consistent. If a brand’s customers are on the platform, the brand should also have some presence there.
In 2013, I wrote a book called Your Brand: The Next Media Company. It was a blueprint that organizations can use to transform how they create content and become real-time publishers. At that time, reaching consumers with brand messages was difficult. Today it’s almost impossible.
- There is a content and media surplus. There is no shortage of advertising messages, notifications, likes, texts, and emails, all vying for our attention.
- There is an attention deficit. The human brain can only process and consume a finite amount of information at any given moment. And the variance between the surplus of content and attention deficit is only growing.
- We have tunnel vision. This is our defense mechanism to maintain a level of sanity and consume only the content that we find relevant at that precise moment. We ignore everything else.
- The buyer’s journey is dynamic and unpredictable. As consumers, we walk through our daily lives consuming content differently, leveraging buying triggers that we can never predict.
All four factors make it almost impossible for brands to reach their audiences with data-driven content. The book is broken down into three sections-people, process, and technology. If you have worked in project management or explored Six Sigma, you’ll recognize these three pillars to describe a framework.
- People: This revolves around building an agile team that could create short-form content in real-time, similar to a newsroom.
- Process: This was more about building editorial and creative workflows so that content can go through the supply chain from ideation to creation to publish and then amplified quickly. I called this the content supply chain.
- Platforms: This was about the investment in technology that can facilitate this entire process.
In the book, I also discuss brands’ need to diversify content. I reference what is called the Cone of Learning which is a model that was developed in the early 1900s by Edgar Dale. It then became the Cone of Experience, also known as the Learning Pyramid. The model incorporates several theories related to education and learning styles. During the 1960s, Dale theorized that learners retain more information by what they “do” as opposed to what is “heard,” “read,” or “observed.”
Clubhouse Reaches the Auditory Senses
While the Cone of Experience was developed contextually around learning styles, there is an application to content marketing. While the numbers may not be scientifically proven, this is a good model that reinforces the need for brands to tell consistent stories across a multitude of channels and in a variety of different ways. Below is where Clubhouse for brands falls on the storytelling spectrum.
When I first wrote the book in 2013, podcasting was around but wasn’t as popular as it is today. And now, with the explosion of Clubhouse, some pundits already have a conversation that social audio platforms will soon make podcasting obsolete.
Whatever the market demands, social audio will be a critical piece of the brand storytelling mix in some form or another. Several data points from Boston Consulting Group and Edelman over the last several years have illustrated that consumers must interact with a brand message three to five times before buying or believing. This means that surround-sounding audiences with consistent and relevant storytelling must be a priority for brands.
It’s also important to add that social audio, long-form content, video, etc., is just the vehicle that delivers messages into the marketplace. What’s more important is the story. The news… the narrative that explains who you are, what you stand for, and why others should care.
Clubhouse for brands isn’t the right question. You have to ask yourself whether or not you are meeting the demands of your audience with your supply of stories. And if you are, the market will also dictate where they want to hear those stories and where they will resonate the most. Social audio must be a consistent approach aligned to your B2B social media strategy. Before you jump in, here’s a quick breakdown of Clubhouse users I prepared that provides insights into the platform and audience.
More Reasons Why Brands Should Use Clubhouse
About 13 years ago, a good friend and mentor, Jeremiah Owyang, wrote a blog post, “Are you a Purist or Corporatist,” where he summarizes a conversation he had with colleagues about the impact and participation of brands using social media.
While this post was written in 2008, it couldn’t be more relevant today as new social networks and apps are coming to market.
I attempted to re-create a visual from Jeremiah’s blog post below to show the scale of how different the purest thinks from a corporatist regarding brands on social media. In the early days, I was a ten and didn’t want any brands participating in community conversations. Then I became a direct marketer. I shifted all left to a corporatist and was always trying to figure out different ways to reach audiences, generate sales leads, or sell products. At that time, I didn’t care about the online community.
Today I am a 4 or 5. I think brands do you have an opportunity to engage in social audio platforms like Clubhouse. But they need to do so in a smart way. Here are a few ideas on how brands on Clubhouse can succeed today and in the near future.
We have seen a few brands create profiles on Clubhouse-Koolaid, Hubspot, and Barstool Sports, to name a few. However, according to Clubhouse’s terms of service, “You must use a real name and identity on the service.” Also, being that the app is meant for authentic and transparent conversations, I would recommend that brands do not create individual profiles, at least for now.
There have been some predictions for features that could benefit brands, including sponsored rooms. But there’s nothing “official” at this point, even though a few small businesses are doing so. In the future, we could see brands using Clubhouse to launch products, earnings calls, executive activation, town hall discussions, social customer service rooms, and CSR programs being activated through Clubhouse. At this point, I would recommend holding off until further clarification from Clubhouse. I am also starting to see brands hire influencers for specific Clubhouse activations. This certainly makes sense, assuming the influencers are providing business value.
Executive Profiling & Activation
We are still feeling the effects of COVID-19 with canceled events & conferences, continuing lockdowns, and travel bans. At Clubhouse, starting a room where your executives can initiate a conversation about a relevant topic is easy. However, we’d recommend that executives take caution with no hidden agenda.
How many brands have collaborated with influencers to moderate a room or join a discussion is unclear. We have not seen any clear disclosure, so it’s safe to assume that it’s a practice that hasn’t taken off quite yet. However, there is an opportunity to collaborate with influencers on a Clubhouse program, considering full disclosure and that brands adhere to the FTC guidelines. There’s already a rise of tech influencers using the platform for thought leadership.
Customer & Employee Brand Advocacy
With a low barrier of entry and an easy-to-use platform, brands must think about launching (or relaunching) an employee and customer brand ambassador program. Social audio apps like Clubhouse make it easy for any stakeholder to join any discussion in any room and talk favorably about the brand or business. However, I’d recommend that brands have clear social media guidelines before operating such programs. It should also be noted that all conversations and discussions in the clubhouse need to be authentic and not self-serving.
From a customer brand ambassador perspective, I can already envision integrating Influitive and Clubhouse, whereby marketers can flag specific rooms and activate customers to participate.
Increasing the Shelf Life of Content
The challenge with Clubhouse rooms is that no record of a discussion ever happening. Once your space is over, it is over. There is no way to pause the conversation or go back and listen to it in the future. The terms of service clearly outline that rooms cannot be recorded unless the community approves. For brands activating some program within Clubhouse, it would make sense to have influencers, customers, or employees attend the room and document the conversation. Nothing in the terms forbids anyone from taking notes and writing a blog post about the conversation.
I do this all the time.
Before you jump in, here’s a quick Clubhouse analysis I prepared that provides insights on the news, media, social media conversations, and audience.