How to get started with Clubhouse
3rd March 2021
We've recently run our first few Clubhouse ‘Rooms’. Here’s a look at how we did it, what worked and importantly, what NOT to do.
Unless you’ve been living under a social media rock for the last six months, you’ll have heard about Clubhouse. But, if you’re looking for a quick overview, here’s what you need to know;
Clubhouse is an audio-first social network, it’s essentially a social-media powered, phone-in, radio talk show or a live panel podcast.
The premise of Clubhouse is to create genuine connections, free of algorithms. Social media has some well-documented challenges, two of which Clubhouse are trying to solve.
Firstly, in Clubhouse’s creators view, many things said on social media would not be, if they had to be said directly to the person they are about. Secondly, Clubhouse operates more like an ‘event’ platform, in which you create a moment in time where you speak about a certain topic and invite people to join and contribute. There’s much more ‘curation’ at work, rather than a dependency on algorithms to surface content.
Clubhouse launched in April 2020 and has already grown to over 10 million downloads, with a valuation of $1 billion. It’s not going anywhere soon.
There are two key elements to the Clubhouse app, Rooms and Clubs. We’ll start with rooms.
‘Rooms’ are where the action happens. You can start a Room at any time or schedule one in advance. Give the Room a title, then invite people to join once you have started.
1.Start a room
- Choose your privacy level
3. Alternatively, schedule your room in advance.
- Once you have started a room, either ad-hoc or scheduled, you get the opportunity to invite others. You’ll also receive a handy notice about when the people you invite were last active, so you can gauge who is most likely to join.
Once someone joins, you’ll see their name in your room and Clubhouse will categorise your attendees as people that ‘you or someone else in the room follows’ or not. It’s a nice way of quickly gauging trust.
That ‘trust’ point is an important one as those who join your room have the opportunity to ‘raise their hand’, at which point you can invite them to the ‘stage’ and give them the opportunity to speak. You remain in control and can remove individuals from the stage if they are starting to go off topic, or causing you any concern.
It’s worthwhile noting that everyone who joins is muted, unless the hosts of the room promote someone to the stage, participants have no means of unmuting.
‘Clubs’ are groups and an ideal way to start creating a ‘community’ around your content. You need to apply to Clubhouse to create a club and you’ll need to have hosted at least three rooms previously.
If you are new to Clubhouse, you’ll only have the option of creating a ‘room’. If you find you are running a regular room on a similar topic, you might want to think about creating a ‘club’.
Now that you’re up to speed with how the app works, here’s a loot at our first experience of running a room, I hope it gives you the inspiration and confidence to try your own.
I’ll break the learnings down into 10 key lessons:
We did not like the idea of just ‘going live’ and hoping someone would join, so teamed up with ContentCal friend and customer, Base Creative. Becca and Iain from Base Creative were both new to Clubhouse, so it felt better to all learn the ropes together. Partnering also has the lovely benefit of increasing the promotional distribution and provides a fall-back if attendance is low - you can still have discussion.
Having been a passive consumer of Clubhouse for a couple of months, I’d witnessed many rooms that had very little objective and speakers filling time without much to say. All good content, in any format, needs an objective and a plan. We decided on a topic of debating the pros and cons of audio-first social media. We drew up talking points and researched some areas that would likely be new information for others, like Clubhouse backstory, common uses, growth, and the range of other, emerging audio-first platforms. Our approach mirrored that of a webinar and focussed on attendee learning.
Give yourself time to prepare and promote your room. Make sure it aligns with your other content activities, so you can benefit from cross channel promotions and multi-channel touch points.
Promotion is key. We started our discussion on LinkedIn first. Anything that’s orintates around ‘pros and cons’ or ‘if or that’ will naturally be polarising, but picking a topic that allows you to have a pre-discussion on a different platform arms you well. Clubhouse is all about interaction, and encouraging thoughtful, considered debate and discussion.
This was Becca’s idea and it was a good one. We organised a Zoom call between the three of us just before the scheduled start time of the room. The call allowed us to confirm the agenda, the opening gambit and make sure we had no tech issues. We stayed on Zoom throughout the duration as that allowed us to communicate privately as the room progressed and made us feel more comfortable - as if we had a safety net.
Even though we ran some soft promotions, attendees were low to start with and it’s important to get a good buzz going right away. Whilst Iain was giving the intro to the room Becca and I were inviting others to get the conversation started.
We opened the floor after the very first discussion, inviting others to speak and bringing them up ‘on stage’. The input was tremendous. As hosts we helped guide the conversation, but the value was being shared by our attendees. Whilst not every session would flow in this way, this is a key difference between a webinar and a Clubhouse room. Webinars are often a monologue with a Q&A at the end, the best Clubhouse rooms are multi-way discussions.
We were lucky to get some great contributions in our room, (partially as a result of promotion, inviting others, and giving those that joined an opportunity to speak), but there were still many that joined and stayed silent. This will always be the case, some people might be nervous asking questions in a live public forum, and some just prefer to listen, so it’s worth collecting questions and input from others in advance. Taking this approach is also great for social media engagement.
This point was mentioned by an attendee. The best rooms are the ones that are focussed on specific topics. Too general and the discussion is too broad and not actionable enough. The best discussions happen in detail.
Clubhouse’s terms forbids the recording of conversations and the app operates under ‘Chatham house rules’ (you can reference what was said, but not who said it) with no recording or on-demand element, there is a very limited life-span for content. Which for me personally is the most limiting factor.
Audio-first social is a very encouraging content format, it’s more personal and a good contributor to community building. The audio-first format also opens up freedom of consumption, with many listening to Clubhouse whilst they are on a walk or doing household chores. The challenge will be to overcome the exclusive nature of lack of on-demand availability, which makes content producers and consumers a slave to the app.
With the pace of development of other audio-first social networks, like Twitter Audio Spaces, Discord and Fireside, it’s clear that this format is here to stay and should start being considered as part of your broader content strategy.
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