Born in the United States in April 2020, Clubhouse is a content-based App in which voice is the protagonist: exchanges and discussions on topics take place exclusively by voice within thematic rooms, involving a variable number of people depending on the interest in the subject matter and the number of followers of the person making the room. Unlike Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which are used by users in very rapid intervals, Clubhouse is characterized by a different mode of consumption, based on listening and interest, with inevitably much slower rhythms that are more reminiscent of those of a podcast than a social post.
The success factors of the platform can be traced to three key elements:
- The potential related to the use of voice
- The ease of reproduction
- The authenticity of the content
Currently the app is usable only by iPhone, Clubhouse has announced development for Android users and is also working on a new version of the app with accessibility features for the blind.
Clubhouse: how to join, room types and users
Unlike other socials where all you need to do is download the app and sign up, access to Clubhouse requires an invitation from someone already using the platform. Once received you can log in and set up your profile by adding a personal photo, an official name and a bio.
The real difference from other social realities are the discussion rooms, more or less themed sections created by users. To create a room all you need to do is choose the people to invite and possibly the topic. It is also possible to create them for future appointments, indicating day and time.
There are 4 types of rooms:
- “Open” rooms are the most common, accessible to anyone who has a way to enter it, whether they follow the person who created it or those among their contacts who follow the speaker.
- “Social” rooms, on the other hand, are rooms restricted to people who follow each other.
- “Closed” rooms are aimed at creating an environment in which the creator of the room chooses to invite only the people he or she wants to have participate.
- Club, within which it is possible to talk to all members who are members.
After locating an interesting room you can click on it and enter as a hearer. At the input, the microphone is turned off and you can listen to ongoing conversations, as if it were a podcast. The room has its own hierarchy, reproduced visually: at the top will appear the people who have speech and in the second section all those who listen. Specifically 3 types of people:
- Moderators, characterized by a green circular symbol, are those who can decide who can speak and the type of room;
- Speakers, those who have the right to speak and are positioned at the top of the room along with the moderators;
- The Listeners, those who simply decide to listen.
If a hearer wants to speak, he or she can click the little hand symbol in the lower right corner, and the moderators will be able to decide whether or not to let the hearer have the floor, inviting him or her to speak by sending a notification.
With the “Leave quietly” button, you can leave without bothering.
Some data on the use of Clubhouse
Although at the moment the main market for Clubhouse remains the U.S., Italy is the most active country on the new platform (source Wired.it – March 2021). According to a March 23, 2021 article by socialfactor.it, Italians love the new social and the numbers estimate more than 330,000 active users on strictly Made In Italy rooms, populated and animated for (almost) 24 hours a day. According to Google Trends statistics, as of February 2021, Lombardy ranked among the regions for the most users, especially in theMilan area: the first to get interested in this social, in fact, were marketers residing in the Lombard capital, who in the first days of the app’s boom in Italy had a monopoly on Italian-language rooms.
However, after the incredible news in early 2021, search trends related to Clubhouse have returned to normal. The new Google Trends result for April 2021 in fact shows a decline due to the end of the novelty and some problems such as the issue regarding the processing of personal data, the exclusive (for now) fruition from Iphone, the need to always follow live, greatly limiting the reach and potential of the rooms, and the absence of content verification.
Branding on Clubhouse: a new opportunity for companies
More and more companies are beginning to enter this platform trying to exploit its potential to increase their online visibility and to promote their products and services. Clubhouse perfectly embodies current trends in content marketing: it provides brands with an opportunity to share their story and connect with customers, gaining product feedback and generating awareness.
Influencer marketing turns out to be one of the main challenges on Clubhouse: on the platform it is essential to be recognized as particularly knowledgeable about a specific topic, which is why lighter, entertainment content alone is no longer enough. In addition, attending virtual rooms for voice chat means completely excluding image and all follower attraction strategies developed through visuals and videos from the interaction.
The platform is currently free, and there are no specific advertising plans or a premium plan for users. However, before opening a Clubhouse profile, it is a good idea to consider a number of factors and to rely on professionals who are familiar with the medium, its functionality, and its inner workings. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that online exposure generates consequences, more or less important, for this reason, even on this platform it is necessary to follow well-defined rules of communication outlined by professionals in the field.
Some brand case histories on Clubhouse
Burger King is the first multinational corporation to open the conversation with its fans and customers through the dedicated “Open Kitchen” room, which allowed consumers and marketing professionals to chat with Burger King’s top management. The “Open Kitchen” thus became an opportunity for RBI brands to strengthen their business and presence on digital channels.
Peroni created the first official branded content on Clubhouse, with a date dedicated to lovers, not just of beer, just on February 14. The goal was to create intimacy and an emotional relationship with their audience. The project created a digital aperitif, a thematic room to celebrate love from a creative and marketing perspective. This was a true marketing initiative, a planned and structured multi-day event during which Peroni established a direct and unfiltered dialogue with its brand lovers and industry experts as it launched its #PeroniXsempre campaign.
The Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano brand was a guest on “The Hidden Persuaders,” the room opened by Paolo Iabichino and Giovanni Boccia Artieri, to listen to a sensitive and knowledgeable audience, who were asked why they recommend and consume their product.
Pescaria, the restaurant format born in Polignano a Mare and present throughout Italy, decided to address the service by focusing on conversation by organizing a “seafood aperitif” on the platform. On the first Sunday in February, Pescaria opened its room, replicating on the opening day of its eighth location in Naples as well, hosting customers in a space where they can directly connect consumers with the brand.
The very human relational aspect that is established between brands and users was one of the factors found as a result of the experience on the platform, and it is definitely a factor in Clubhouse’s favor. However, some aspects related to privacy and public speaking policy remain to be clarified, which is why many brands are moving cautiously and have decided to rely on professionals who are familiar with the medium, its functionality and inner workings.