The Pros and Cons of Clubhouse Marketing

The audio-driven social network might not be for every brand, but it nonetheless offers lessons that associations can latch onto.

The social network Clubhouse, launched as an invite-only service last year, grew into a juggernaut at the beginning of 2021 on the back of its audio capabilities. Momentum has slowed a bit, but it nonetheless remains one of the year’s most fascinating social networks, a re-creation of the serendipitous conversation many missed during the pandemic.

Associations might see an app like Clubhouse and immediately ask whether it makes sense to add to their marketing and content mix. So we’ve gathered a set of pros and cons that might help you decide how to tackle Clubhouse, along with your relationship with other new social platforms too.

Pro: It’s a New Way to Interact With Audio

While its cultural peak might have passed earlier this year, Clubhouse still represents the vanguard of a new class of platforms that support scheduled live discussions within the app, which can draw lots of people at once.

The platform has attracted celebrities, high-profile venture capitalists, politicians, and early adopters interested in new forms of social interaction. For associations looking to gain a foothold in a new medium, it’s one of the first places you might want to land.

Associations love audio, with many seeing success through podcasting and similar strategies—and Clubhouse is a way to further expand your reach.

Con: It’s an Easy Model to Clone

In the roughly eight months since Clubhouse first went viral, a number of competitors have emerged. Twitter Spaces is the most prominent, but other social networks, such as Facebook, have also gotten into the action. Even Spotify—which has boosted its podcast game in recent years—has its own take on the Clubhouse model.

The result is that depending on which platform eventually emerges as the app of choice, Clubhouse itself might not end up being the vessel in which you take part in this audio-driven format.

Pro: It’s a Platform Ripe for Experimentation

If you’re looking to try new things with your membership, new social networks are a great way to test the waters. Experimentation can energize engagement, outreach, and marketing to new types of audiences. On top of that, it can teach you new tactics to try on platforms you’re already using.

And in the world of associations, where strategy can sometimes slow plans down, something experimental can feel like a shot of vitality.

Con: Brands Are Still Figuring It Out

While Clubhouse carries a ton of potential for marketing, it didn’t immediately connect for many brands. Speaking to Digiday back in April, Deloitte Digital’s Nathan Young noted that many major brands had not done anything major with the platform as of yet.

“There’s been some novel use cases where brand mascots appear in discussions and some experimentation with sponsored chats,” Young said, “but we have not yet seen brands make any major plays.”

While outlets like Politico have found ways to make Clubhouse work, joining now would still make you a pioneer without a template on how to make an impact.

That can be exciting, based on the nature of your organization, or it can be daunting. Case in point: It’s difficult to actually track anything.

Pro: It’s Exciting and Full of Opportunity

The best part of a new social network is that it offers a new way to think about something that matters to associations: community.

Some have compared Clubhouse to early iterations of Twitter, thanks to its addictive nature, potential for meeting new people, and high level of accessibility, with all the good and bad that entails. But as the platform matures and more options become available (and, let’s face it, as brands become a bigger part of the audience), the community may shift, just as with Twitter.

Con: Your Audience Might Not Be Into Clubhouse Yet. Or Ever.

With new networks, it’s worth keeping in mind that your audience may not be ready for it at this time, and that your own engagement with it might be exploratory rather than tactical.

Darrell Keezer of Candybox Marketing suggests that, much like any social network, it’s important to understand if your users are actually there and structure your approach accordingly.

“Marketing 101 tells us to define our target audience and build marketing plans around those targets, including reach, mediums, and frequency,” he writes for Forbes. “If you cannot find your customers or vendors on the platform, it may only help you become a resource for your own personal development.”

And it’s possible that they may never end up there. To give you an idea of how fast the hype cycle is: Some have already declared Clubhouse dead.

When it comes to social media hype, the cycle works fast. But you can still learn something.

(Anna Martianova/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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