By now, most of us have heard of the Clubhouse app. Like YOLO and OK Boomer, Clubhouse has staying power. And it’s why brands and content marketers need to stay on top of what’s going on in their world.
While Clubhouse has turned content marketing upside down since the start of 2020, competitors in the space have grown wary of letting them get too big too soon. With resources in tow and audience reach at stake, Facebook and Twitter have dived head-first into the audio app war.
Here’s a rundown of everything that’s happening and what you should prepare for as competition rages.
What’s the Clubhouse app?
Clubhouse is an audio chat social network that came onto the scene in 2020 as an invite-only platform. Its growth is bordering on uncharted territory—with an upcoming round of investment reportedly valuing the company at close to $4 billion. No small feat for an upstart David in a world of social network Goliaths.
The Clubhouse app is unique for the features it doesn’t have. There’s no video. There are no walls of texts and images. There’s only audio. Think of it as a vast sea of free-flowing podcasts. Moderators create audio chat rooms and people show up to listen to the speakers. Moderators can choose to put some of their listeners on the virtual stage to share their own thoughts.
Clubhouse has two major strengths:
- People offer value. Clubhouse initially took off because it was a chance to be “in the room” with power players in different industries—not to gawk, but to learn. Influencers and brands have realized what content marketers have always known: Give away a ton of value because it’s what keeps people tuning in.
- Audio isn’t recorded. There’s a powerful sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) on the app. If it’s not good content, don’t try wasting anybody’s time. That doesn’t mean everything’s truly ephemeral, though. App developers have started crafting a robust ecosystem of supporting apps that help brands make the most of Clubhouse.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the creators of Clubhouse must be extremely flattered. Facebook and Twitter are coming for them.
What Facebook is planning
Facebook’s metamorphosis from a restricted social network for university students to a visual library for all the cat videos you didn’t know you needed to see is about to level up.
Facebook is no stranger to innovation. Or rather, when a major innovation shows up in the social networking universe, Facebook is the first to copy it—or buy them outright. Instagram Reels is Facebook’s TikTok clone, and Instagram itself was initially a Facebook acquisition that turned into a Snapchat clone.
In competing with Clubhouse, Facebook knows it has resources and capital to put a dent in their market share. It’s been working on two concurrent apps, both of which are rumored to see daylight sometime in 2021—sooner than later.
- Facebook is testing Hotline. A mashup of Clubhouse and Instagram Live, Facebook’s experimental app division is testing out their new project in a public beta. Creators on the platform can speak to their audience, who can then ask questions via audio or text. What makes Hotline different? Creators can opt to turn on their cameras.
- The real clone is still under wraps. The only secrets that are more heavily guarded are whether UFOs exist and what really goes on at Area 51. Much of what we know is from screenshots, sleuthed out by reverse engineer and app developer Alessandro Paluzzi. What we can presume is that whatever Facebook builds out will be baked into its existing Messenger app, expanding its capabilities to host new “Live Audio” rooms (each with its own unique URL).
What Twitter is planning
While Twitter is often late to the party (we’re looking at you, Fleets), there’s no denying its war chest of resources. Twitter has the upper hand on Facebook because its quicker, faster-paced approach to live content appeals more to younger audiences—as well as journalists, celebrities, and politicians. Twitter’s the choice for big names in many industries.
The big news to watch? Twitter is toying with the idea of buying Clubhouse at its $4 billion valuation. While talks have mostly stalled, Twitter has trudged along with a copycat app called Spaces. It’s currently open to beta testers only, but here’s what we know about the new app’s functionality:
- Starting a Space looks like creating a tweet or Fleet. However you’d typically start a new message on Twitter is how you’d launch a Space. Find the Spaces option in the tweet or Fleet creator, start your Space, and turn on the microphone (it’ll be off by default).
- Accessibility is huge. Clubhouse has been body-slammed online for being so exclusive that it keeps disabled people out of the platform. Not literally, but kinda. Making the platform usable for those with hearing impairments feels like an easy fix in an era of advanced technology. Spaces thinks about accessibility right out of the gate. Users have the option to set up live captioning so listeners can see captions if they choose to view them.
- Everything is public. A major draw of Clubhouse is its private and public room options. With Spaces, there are only public rooms. While this feels like a security issue waiting to happen, there’s the flip side of giving brands and influencers more opportunities to reach wider audiences. If you create good content, people will flock.
Where to start
It’s clear marketers must keep tabs on the Clubhouse clone wars. As the competition for audience attention ramps up, brands must know which channels to prioritize to grow and activate audiences. The sheer growth potential of Clubhouse (72% of mobile users don’t even have access yet, and it’s still the most talked-about platform on earth right now) means Clubhouse competitors are vying for those same spaces.
Clubhouse isn’t going anywhere just yet. But before adding it to your channel distribution plan, think strategically about how you set up your social media campaigns. By focusing on the right platforms and measuring for the right goals, you’re making sure your brand stays relevant in competitive digital spaces.