Opinion by Michael Bush
At the beginning of December, the new audio-only iPhone app, Clubhouse, had 3,500 members worldwide. Today, the Silicon Valley founded platform surpassed more than 10 million downloads, with two million weekly users.
Granted, these figures are low in comparison to the 500 million Instagram users that post stories daily, but it’s clear that Clubhouse is starting to gain traction and fast.
For individuals yet to receive an invitation, Clubhouse is a new and exclusive members-only iPhone app that connects users via audio. Once inside, they can join “rooms” to listen to members talking at any time, providing a space for debates, discussions and even performances. The only rule is that it can’t be recorded.
Already valued at $100 million despite only marking its first year since launch this April, its founders are now in the process of making the app available to the wider public.
The burning question, therefore, is how the app will work on a mass scale? And whether it will provide a new and exciting opportunity for brands to reach and directly engage with their target audiences, following in the footsteps of SnapChat and TikTok.
People buy from people
The Instagram era will always be synonymous with the creation of social media influencers, with millions utilised by businesses and brands on a daily basis to help support their latest campaign or promote their newest product.
Since the launch of Instagram stories in 2016, the popularity of the platform has accelerated, where monologues to camera or snippets of “behind the scenes” content are now the norm.
In essence, Instagram works because people like to engage with and buy from people. As an app that encourages online audio engagement between individuals, Clubhouse, therefore, has the potential to provide a seemingly authentic avenue for target audiences to engage with brand ambassadors online – providing the opportunity for ‘story’ type snippets to be extended into lengthier discussions, debates or even brand masterclasses.
For example, current entrepreneurial discussions amongst the elite could quickly turn into make-up tutorials conducted by an influencer, using the latest Charlotte Tilbury line. You can see how this would work and would bolster brand awareness and product sales as a result.
Interest and Demographics
When joining Clubhouse, the algorithm integrates with your iPhone and shows you what friends or family members are utilising the app. In addition, the app also suggests other people for you to follow and engage with based on your individual preferences.
To ensure you find suitable “rooms”, Clubhouse also provides a “Find Conversations About…” option which lets you select and follow relevant topics and interest points.
From a brand perspective, this suggests one thing: Clubhouse already has a growing dataset on user demographics and interests, which means there is scope to create advertising opportunities within the app.
Just as we have seen with TikTok, a dedicated Clubhouse advertising model seems a clear and obvious move and if the app continues to gain traction at the same rate, it is likely to work – providing another digital platform for brands to utilise to directly engage with target audiences, increase brand awareness and drive sales.
Clubhouse came out of the starting blocks at a time when consumers were faced with the sheer destruction caused by the pandemic, which resulted in brands shifting their focus to remain relevant and continue to resonate with their target audiences.
Essentially, brands with purpose won in 2020 and you can’t but help think despite the clear genius behind Clubhouse that its exclusive “celebrity only” approach was ill-timed, particularly as people across the globe were sat in their homes under lockdown restrictions and very likely to engage with a platform that promised open conversation.
It will, therefore, be interesting to see public response to Clubhouse as it removes its barriers and tries to engage a wider audience. What we do know, however, is that if mass users sign-up to Clubhouse, it won’t be long until brands follow… So, watch this space.
Michael Bush is Commercial Director of Climb Online