If the kids had TikTok to get them through the pandemic, the adults (or at least the business elite) had Clubhouse. The much-lauded digital audio chat platform was the hit of the summer last year, and many regarded it as the first of a new wave of social media innovation. Companies scrambled to figure out their “Clubhouse strategy,” while competitors like Facebook and Twitter fast-tracked their clone offerings. For a while, all anyone could talk about was how Clubhouse was the future of audio.
This summer, not so much.
Clubhouses’ monthly downloads are in a steep decline, going from 9.6 million in February to only 900,000 in April. At first glance, this looks pretty ominous for Clubhouse. It would imply that it’s quickly reaching the point where everyone who would want to download it will soon have already downloaded it. However, that might not be such a bad thing. By focusing on monetizing a core, loyal audience, Clubhouse can build a very sustainable business, while continuing to test and innovate with new features. Furthermore, the fact that Twitter and Facebook jumped in so quickly to compete validates the opportunity in this space. The value being provided by audio-chat platforms is clear, and so it’s my view that reports of Clubhouse’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
That isn’t to say there aren’t problems. Twitter and Facebook may have validated Clubhouse’s value proposition, but that also makes them giant predators waiting to either acquire or kill the competition. And unlike Clubhouse, they won’t be in a giant rush to monetize the audiences.
So if you’re a business that feels like Clubhouse is a technology you need to be leveraging, what do you do? Well first of all, why?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 20-odd years of social media, it’s that every company doesn’t need to be on every channel. In fact, successful companies have smartly chosen the channels and platforms that most closely align with their brand identity, business needs and most importantly, audience presence. It’s a model perfected by individual creators or influencers, who’ve chosen to become famous on a single channel, whether it’s YouTube, TikTok, Medium or Instagram.
Following that strategy really narrows down the list of businesses that could leverage a platform like Clubhouse. If we think about it purely in terms of content strategy, it is companies that benefit from regular conversations and feedback with a dedicated community of users and enthusiasts for their goods and services. Think of companies like REI, who’ve created an entire content stream based on contributions from outdoor enthusiasts.
Depending on your product and engagement strategy, having a bunch of audio conversations can be a fantastic way to build credibility with certain communities, while also promoting positive brand sentiment. And if you fit that bill, this is an opportune time to wade into the social audio territory. But beyond that, I would wait and see, but stay in my lane.