The Clubhouse app is new, exclusive, and invitation-only. Excellent marketing and the exclusivity of this app, combined with high-profile users like Elon Musk, have driven downloads to above 8 million in the year since its launch.
With such a significant number of downloads, the developers must have high hopes that Clubhouse can outrun other social media apps. I find myself wondering whether a fully interactive audio app might be able to kill podcasting.
How Does Clubhouse Work?
The Clubhouse app is an innovative hybrid between a social network, podcasts, and live radio chat shows. You can join Clubhouse in two ways; either by an invite from an existing user or by downloading the app and joining a waiting list until a user sends an invite.
Once you’re in the Clubhouse, you can specify your interests and join interactive audio chats in specific conversation rooms at certain times.
The app then closes the room once the discussion is over, so you can only join a discussion at the specified times, with no possibility of listening to it later.
The app is currently only available to iOS users with version 13 or higher, restricting it to a little under 60% of the US market and around 14% of the global market.
Since the app’s design and marketing currently target wealthier users and countries, this shouldn’t affect the growth of Clubhouse yet.
The app is the first of its kind, so it doesn’t have any direct competitors to which we can compare it. Instead, we’ll compare it to podcasting, live radio shows, and social networking in general.
Clubhouse vs. Podcasting
A podcast is a pre-recorded audio file that users can download and listen to at their leisure. Radio stations often make podcasts of interesting shows or interviews available for their listeners to download or stream whenever they have time to listen to them.
Podcasts and radio differ in that the latter reaches a broader audience. Alternatively, users choose which specific podcasts to download. You can also present a podcast as a series or audio blog for users to download and listen to at their leisure.
The Clubhouse app provides a similar service, but makes the discussions live and interactive. Conversation rooms on Clubhouse open at specific times and close after the discussions end. Users can only join the discussion at the pre-arranged times and can’t download or listen to the audio later.
Because the room is interactive and live, trolls or hecklers can prevent you from making your point or providing relevant information. As you can see from this analysis of Clubhouse vs. podcasting, the two formats have stark differences in presentation and target audience.
Clubhouse vs. Live Radio
During live radio talk shows, radio stations can invite listeners to call and take part in the discussion. The station broadcasts these shows at predetermined times, and successful callers have their say on the show after a screening process.
The conversation rooms in the Clubhouse provide the same service with the added advantage of guaranteeing listeners the chance to participate in the discussion. There’s no screening process, and anybody can have their say.
The process is less controlled than radio stations, where only one caller has the opportunity to ask questions at a time. The app sacrifices structure and order in favor of increased participation.
Clubhouse vs. Other Social Media
Although Clubhouse only supplies audio, it brings people interested in the same subjects together in real-time.
When users post on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, the post remains until they, or the platform, remove it. Other users have the opportunity to comment and share their own opinions as long as the post remains visible.
The Clubhouse app opens conversation rooms for a specific topic or discussion at a specific time. It closes the room after the discussion ends.
All participants have the opportunity to make their audio contributions as the discussion is happening, although some choose to listen without participating.
Essentially, the Clubhouse is a huge conference call without video and with little control over the flow of the conversation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Clubhouse
From the comparisons above, you can see some clear advantages and disadvantages to presenting content through Clubhouse or a similar app. Here is a summary of the key advantages and disadvantages to consider:
Advantages of Clubhouse
- The Clubhouse app is the most interactive of all the options
- The structure encourages increased participation in discussions
- Everybody interested in a discussion is guaranteed participation
- The clubhouse app hosts the discussions and commentaries in real-time
- You can target audiences more accurately than with other social media platforms or radio stations
Disadvantages of Clubhouse
- The discussion is only available while the conversation room is open — Users can’t download or share the information
- You sacrifice an ordered conversation in favor of increased participation
- Hecklers and trolls may prevent you from getting your point across or sharing the intended information
- Some of your followers may not be able to participate at the scheduled times
Who Should Use Clubhouse
The Clubhouse app is closer to a talk radio show than a podcast. The content is unedited and unscripted, and every listener has a chance to contribute.
If your intent is to supply your followers with this type of format, Clubhouse is the right platform.
From a marketing perspective, Clubhouse may be an option to introduce new products or technologies to the market.
The live discussion allows interested parties to ask questions and comment on your product or technology features.
Who Shouldn’t Use Clubhouse
We wouldn’t recommend discussing any controversial topics because of the app’s social media aspect and trolling chances.
Avoid anything to do with politics, the environment, COVID, religion, or any number of topics that tend to divide the population.
If your aim is to provide structured, quality, and shareable content, then this app isn’t the right platform to use.
As we mentioned before, Clubhouse can be a helpful marketing tool for introducing new products or technologies.
Still, you’ll also need to use other more traditional platforms to convey your message.
We set out to answer whether Clubhouse would kill podcasting, and the answer is no. Based on the research and evidence available, Clubhouse has its place, but it doesn’t threaten the future of podcasting.
Over 80 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, favoring well-constructed, informational content. Experts estimate that advertising revenue from the industry will reach $1.1 billion this year, with 38% of listeners reporting that they purchased products mentioned in podcasts.
Podcasts will be with us and used as a marketing tool for many years to come. As Americans start moving away from the mainstream media and the six companies that control 90% of the content we’re exposed to, podcasts and apps like Clubhouse will become more commonplace.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.