We’ve been having fun in my Digital Marketing class this spring and we often discuss (via our Topic Talks) what are… “the top 5 stories in digital?” One of my goals for this class is to prepare the students for their future digital marketing job interviews.
Without question, one of top stories of 2021 is… Clubhouse. So, what is Clubhouse? I’ve been playing around inside of Clubhouse for a week or so and I can easily say it is novel. In addition to the detail below, I’m going to answer a question that was posted to me on Twitter related to Clubhouse and fan engagement at a sports club.
First, what is Clubhouse? In short, it’s a new social platform (iOS only for the moment but once the founders get some additional VC funding, they will produce an Android version) and at present, it is invitation only. The key feature of the app is… live audio… only, meaning one can tune in and listen to a multitude of topics in numerous rooms but, there is no recording of the conversation for later on-demand, asynchronous consumption.
You know something… is something… if it is not easy to explain. In other words, Clubhouse is unique (i.e., has a stronger value proposition) because it is challenging to directly compare Clubhouse to the other social platforms. For an analogy, this often occurs in the music industry. Every band gets compared to another band. The easier it is to compare them (i.e., oh… so and so… yea, they are OK – they’re like poor-man’s version X), the less unique the band is. I’m going to have some fun here and do some Clubhouse comparisons.
- Clubhouse is… Digital Talk Radio
Meaning, we have been listening to talk radio for decades but it has not completely crossed over to social. Radio is almost 100% one-way communication, but Clubhouse with its rooms and the ability to raise your hand and be pulled on stage is more two-way communication. Did Sirius XM miss the boat here?
- Clubhouse is… A podcast that is not on-demand
I love podcasts. I recommendation podcasts to students and friends all the time. Podcasts are rarely live. Podcasts are almost 100% on-demand asynchronous consumption. Synchronous consumption, however, has the FOMO effect (i.e., get it now – live – or don’t get it at all).
- Clubhouse is… Discord for adults!
My kids understand this one. Discord was originally a multi-person version of a FaceTime like platform that is popular in the multi-player gamer community. Discord has since expanded a bit beyond the gamer community but is still rooted heavily in gaming. I feel Discord is Clubhouses closest competitor, however, Clubhouse has more of a LinkedIn or Medium audience compared to Discord’s B2C topic areas.
- Clubhouse is… Medium but in a live audio format
I believe the smartest conversations in digital are happening on Medium. Medium is a blogging platform (text), featuring long form content, completely on-demand/asynchronous consumption, and is not free. In sum, similar audience but different modality.
- Clubhouse is… an audio version of Twitch
I’ve heard this a few times but it is not a comparison. First of all, one is live video (Twitch) while the other is live audio (Clubhouse). Second, Twitch has live functionality and is the dominant live gaming platform, but many of Twitch’s streams are on-demand/asynchronous consumption either on Twitch itself or YouTube.
- Clubhouse is… it is a virtual conference space
This is a big deal. The conference business is a BIG business… abet in non-pandemic times. It is very easy to pull together 3 to 4 speakers and create a panel in Clubhouse. It is also very easy to pull an audience in to live session with well-known presenters in Clubhouse. The Zoom platform has exploded over the last year… predominantly because… we had no choice. It was Zoom (or Teams) or nothing. Yes, these video platforms are mostly live with the ability to record sessions for later on-demand/asynchronous consumption but that is not the commonly used case for Zoom. Zoom is limited in the number of people who could be in a room and when there is hundreds of participants, the video and crowd participation features diminish. It is easier for Clubhouse to have thousands of people in one room and sometimes, something great is happening that starts out with a few dozen and ends up with a few thousand people in one room.
In summary, Clubhouse is unique, Clubhouse is novel, and it will be one of the top 5 conversations in digital this year.
Recently on Twitter, I was asked about Clubhouse and sports communities. I am a guest lecturer in Professor Lionel Maltese’s Strategic Management and Advances Marketing in Sports Organizations class at the Kedge Business School in Marseille. Kedge’s masters program in Sports Management is one of the top sports management programs in Europe and they do a few digital sport media modules with Lionel. The student question was:
“Can fan engagement be created with Clubhouse for sport clubs? Direct engagement & feedback; low cost opportunity; sponsor message opportunity; multiple rooms with multiple regions with athletes. Can this become important for fan engagement in the future?”
We live in a bottom-up world, meaning the crowd (i.e., fans) are actively involved with co-creating the sporting experience with the sports club. Clubhouse could easily replace the traditional media conference when a new player is signed – fans and media could be in the same room! Clubhouse could be part of a corporate social responsibility initiative coordinated between the club and the fans. Clubhouse could also be used for meeting space between with the various fan clubs and the sports team to plan in-stadium activities at big matches. As long as there is a crowd and there is two-way participation, Clubhouse could easily be employed by any sports club.
Something to think about today!
Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor of Marketing
Methodologist, Seton Hall Sports Poll
Stillman School of Business