Exclusivity vs. Utility: The Argument Around Clubhouse

Exclusivity vs. Utility: The Argument Around Clubhouse

Exclusivity vs. Utility: The Argument Around Clubhouse 2560 1920 Michael Evans

Have you begun to think about how you’d integrate Clubhouse into your #communications strategy?

Yes                                    11%
No                                     16%
We’re waiting to see    5%
What is Clubhouse?     68%

The results from last week’s poll are in and it seems that the main takeaway is… no-one has heard of clubhouse – but is that going to change any time soon?

So, what is Clubhouse? Clubhouse has been described as an ‘audio based’ social media platform. Imagine a briefing room with one speaker, and a series of attendees, or perhaps an industry roundtable discussion in front of an audience; and you have a rough idea of what clubhouse offers. Room admins control who can speak and address the audience, creating an environment that feels casual and conversational, whilst remaining informative – like a C-suite conference held in a Discord server.

But in a world increasingly saturated with social media platforms competing for a slice of our life, what does Clubhouse bring to the table? As discussed above, the format of Clubhouse makes for a good staging point for journalist briefings, interviews, Q&As, and even announcements and audio press releases. In particular, firms that represent industry leading clients with valuable insight can use Clubhouse for mass interviews and briefings, or even to launch press releases. Clubhouse should be seen as the digital equivalent of a press conference – a way to present information and interact with questions in a controlled manner.

It also has the potential to become a viable tool for internal communications. The segmented nature of the chatrooms is ideal for communication within a cell system, and the platform’s ability to host many hundreds of people within the same ‘room’ allows for employers to hold townhalls, and to interact with their workers on a huge scale, whilst still retaining a more informal meeting system than in Zoom or Teams. One ideal usage of this technology would be amongst large employers, who might wish to host an internal podcast or debate for their workers, creating a voluntary attendance programme for their employees to tune in to Clubhouse and engage with the management and the company itself.

From a business objective standpoint, Clubhouse brings additional opportunities not explored in other social media platforms. Communications specialists may find Clubhouse particularly engaging as it allows them to jump between rooms and conversations, quickly ascertaining the topics of the day that are engaging the public, allowing them to place a thumb on the pulse of public opinion in a very visceral way. In much the same way, the ‘exclusive’ nature of Clubhouse makes it a possible area of new business development and – although its open forum format may make targeting individuals tricky – Clubhouse’s one-to-one room invite feature does provide an easy place to chat. One final point worth noting is that for those seeking to raise their profile, clubhouse provides a large inbuilt audience looking for insight. With the right strategy, one can become a sector leader on this growing platform, leading multiple rooms in discussion, and shaping the sector through your thought leadership.

So far so good, what’s the issue? Unfortunately for Clubhouse, it is ‘issues’ plural. A swathe of issues has plagued Clubhouse as it has expanded, most notably server issues leading out outages and disconnections as Clubhouse expands, as well as criticism of the user interface, which has been decried as uninspiring and counter-intuitive. Furthermore, the algorithms designed to recommend content you are interested in are quite flawed, suggesting a range of seemingly unrelated rooms. During our test of the platform, we were repeatedly suggested rooms featuring discussion in languages that we had not specified fluency in.  Finally, the inability to host video content is a baffling technical exclusion, especially given the myriad competing broadcast/communications platforms that do offer video conferencing.

The verdict (for now) is that Clubhouse has potential for greatness; its focus on large-scale audio communication and its targeting of the business world is an incredibly insightful analysis of a possible market gap – but the execution leaves a great deal to be desired. Comms firms who boast industry leading clients who are extremely ‘in demand’ can use Clubhouse as a method of managing the ‘supply’ of the commentary, press releases and briefings, although its arguable that at this moment in time, anything Clubhouse can do, competitors like Discord and Zoom can do better. In summation: Clubhouse’s attempt to blend social-media-style leadership and networking, with voice-based chatrooms is something that makes sense on paper, but only time will tell if it works in practise.