Clubhouse – Just Hype or a Platform With Marketing Potential?

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Linda Mehrhoff

Project Manager

Marketing Consultant

Clubhouse is a prime example of how to create genuine hype in the digital age. For a few weeks now, talks and discussions have been circulating in the online marketing scene about the social media audio platform Clubhouse. The hype is visibly overflowing and soon, influencers, politicians and marketing professionals were flocking to the virtual “Clubhouse”.

Although still in the beta phase, the Silicon Valley app was already valued at 100 million US dollars in 2020, as reported by Forbes Magazine. Starting with only four-digit user numbers at the time, the number of users has significantly risen thanks to various celebrities who participate and foster its growth.

What does this tell us? The desire for new applications and platforms seems huge. Data protection discussions on WhatsApp, app recommendations from Tesla boss Elon Musk, Trump censorship on Twitter and co. and the success of Telegram all contribute to this. Additionally, there is the hype around podcasts, a trend that suggests that audio content running in the background has potential. The uncertainty surrounding the established platforms seems to be increasing. No wonder that we are bursting with curiosity when a new player tries to conquer the social media landscape.

We are also seeing the growing importance of sharing opinions on social networks and social media has become extremely conducive to discussion. Today’s politicized youth talk and argue about social and political issues. Clubhouse starts exactly here and offers the simplest form of discussion as a raw and basic concept – the good old conversation. As we have known for centuries, this gets by without comments and emojis, without background music, filters and elaborate editing. Clubhouse is pure. That’s what makes the app so charming and taking a closer look at the social media app, there are indeed various reasons for the excitement, because the concept is promising.

What is Clubhouse and how does it work?

Simply put, Clubhouse is an audio-only app that lets users listen to conversations like a live podcast or actively participate in discussions, meaning that users do not send each other pictures, videos or text messages, but talk to each other in their real voices. User interaction takes place via audio chat rooms that deal with a wide variety of topics. Anyone can create an event and determine which topic is covered. The sessions themselves are listed in the calendar and events from a predefined area of interest are displayed. To participate, one simply has to click on the event and listen. What’s exciting is that to participate yourself, you can simply raise your hand and with a little patience (and depending on the size of the crowd), the moderator or host can bring you on stage as a speaker. And bam… you are right there to give your opinion in front of an exciting audience!

Where does the hype stem from?

The app design is clean and without many functions: no comments, no likes, no camera on, but no easy participation either – if you want to join in, you need an invitation!

Thinking very briefly, marketers directly associate this with artificial scarcity, a good way to get more attention for the app. In the spirit of a clubhouse this stokes the hype – those who are not in want to get in. Those who are in do not want to miss anything, also known as FOMO (“Fear of missing out”).

Thinking about it a little longer, there may be other reasons, such as difficulties of infrastructure, server problems, user control in terms of guidelines and monitoring of topics, and many more, to explain why the Clubhouse is still so limited to users. Thus, it is likely that the app will remain in the beta phase for quite some time until it opens up to everyone. However, the company should not take too much time, because if the hype dies down, many users who could have been easily collected now might be lost.

Short-term hype or redefining the social media landscape?

When comparing Clubhouse to other social media platforms, the new app is very different. By focusing on raw conversations without edits and filters, all superficiality that usually drives other content in the online world, gets eliminated. A whole new approach that will not leave the marketing world unchanged – if it remains successful. As already mentioned, the app combines several attributes that perfectly capture what is desired in today’s society and thus, yields huge potential for further growth. We can only make assumptions on how this hype will develop but what we know is that Clubhouse is a refreshing new platform that might have the power to disrupt a whole marketing cosmos that has evolved around social media!

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