Clubhouse is an invitation-only, audio-chat social networking app. It launched in 2020 and, by the end of the year, was valued at nearly $100 million. On January 21, 2021, the valuation hit one billion US dollars.
Obviously, somebody thinks Clubhouse has “worth.” But is it something that can help your podcast?
Lots of podcasters think so. At any given time, there are several podcasting-related “rooms” on Clubhouse with hundreds of people talking about podcasting.
The Clubhouse Problem (for Attendees)
1. Podcasting-related Clubhouse rooms are more “social” than podcasting-related.
Like a lot of rooms on Clubhouse, many of the podcasting-related rooms have a bigger focus on hanging out and chatting with people more than actual content designed to help attendees do something. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re looking for high-quality podcasting content more than new friends, you may end up being frustrated. Also, because of the way some rooms are loosely moderated and open to anybody, you’re very likely to find a lot of the information you hear on Clubhouse, about podcasting or anything else, isn’t accurate.
The social element of Clubhouse can be a positive – it’s great to be able to connect to fellow podcasters in a non-podcasting way. But it’s been my experience that there is definitely a diminishing return on your time investment after a certain point. I’ve heard many people talk about how they’ve found themselves in a “Clubhouse timesuck” with more than a few spending hours per day on the app.
2. Clubhouse has a lot of “noise” compared to the amount of quality content being shared.
Is there quality content being shared on Clubhouse? Absolutely. Will you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to it? Yes.
You could make this argument about most of the ways we get information, especially today, since it’s easier than ever to distribute written words, audio, and video. Clubhouse is live though, with no options to fast-forward or skip around when something being shared isn’t a match for your needs. In other words, you get what you get when you get it, with your only option to either stick around until what you need comes up or leave.
3. Everybody on Clubhouse wants to be “on stage.”
This is especially true with podcasters and others who are used to talking or who want to be “famous.” In fact, it’s especially bad right now because, since Clubhouse is so new, there’s a “gold rush” situation of everybody and his brother trying to attract as many Clubhouse followers as possible.
The Clubhouse Problem (for Presenters)
1. Clubhouse takes a lot of time.
You can’t send an assistant or hire somebody else to do your Clubhouse work – you have to show up and do that work yourself. This means setting up your own Clubhouse rooms or participating in the rooms of others and that’s going to take time. And unless you have an existing audience that already has access to Clubhouse and will follow you there, you’re going to have to show up a lot to reach the people you want to connect with.
2. Clubhouse takes a lot of mental, physical, and emotional energy.
There’s a lot going on in a Clubhouse room. You have to be present and pay attention to keep track of these things. You have to listen to people and respond with the appropriate attitude, enthusiasm, and information for Clubhouse to be an effective way of building relationships and spreading your message.
Personally, I’ve found that even just listening to a Clubhouse room takes more energy than listening to something like a podcast, since there’s always the chance that you’ll be called up on stage or have another situation where people expect you to respond. For example, let’s say you join a room, somebody speaking sees that you’ve joined, and asks something of you. Because podcasts and many other forms of online audio are prerecorded and time-shifted, you don’t have to worry about the timeliness of a request or hearing something the moment it’s said, since you have options for playback and immediate response isn’t expected or even possible. That isn’t the case with Clubhouse – if you miss something, you miss it.
3. Clubhouse isn’t passive.
In theory, all Clubhouse rooms are live. While it’s technically possible for you to prerecord something for playback on Clubhouse at a later time, doing this changes the very nature of Clubhouse and how the system works.
This “live nature” of Clubhouse also has a huge advantage when it comes building an audience for you and your podcast. Because most people aren’t willing to put in the necessary time and energy to be successful with Clubhouse, you have a huge advantage if you are.
4. Going “live” on Clubhouse (or anywhere) has BIG risks.
Going live has risks. Like a circus performer without a net, if you can pull off a live performance with an element of danger, it’s very impressive to people watching. But if you can’t, you can crash in a big way.
Clubhouse has been overrun with marketers who are using it solely to sell their wares. Unfortunately for some, many don’t have the same level of personality, persuasion, and likability when they’re live on Clubhouse (or anywhere) that they’re able to access via a delivery format that can be planned in advance and edited. The good news for podcasts is that, as a podcaster, you’re likely already somewhat skilled at delivering a “live” message effectively and also thinking on your feet. If not, check out the Sausage Factory Formula to get better at these two necessary elements of being successful with Clubhouse.
5. There’s only one way to scale Clubhouse (and it has limitations).
Like radio or podcasting, it’s possible to reach more people with the same “performance” on Clubhouse, since multiple people can join Clubhouse rooms. The downside, and something that you can’t scale, is the level of interactivity you have with those people, which is what makes Clubhouse the opportunity that it is. The more people you want to interact with, the more time and energy you’ll have to invest.
The Clubhouse Solution
The beauty of Clubhouse for podcasters is that it allows you to connect with listeners of your podcast in a way that’s different from what you already have available.
Here are three ways to do this:
1. Focus on Clubhouse users who already listen to your podcast.
Clubhouse is a great way to reach new people with your message, but it’s a far better way to reach people who already know you with a different form of your message.
If you want to reach a lot of people, it’s far easier to do this via something infinitely scalable, such as a blog, a podcast, or a book than via Clubhouse. If somebody responds to a “one-to-many” format, you can then bring them over to Clubhouse, where you’ll then be able to deliver an interactive experience that is more personalized.
2. Don’t worry about “high quality” audio on Clubhouse.
It’s important to sound good on your podcast. Sounding “good” on Clubhouse is less important.
Why? Because Clubhouse is intimate and, lower-quality audio, despite what podcast engineering snobs will tell you, has advantages here as far as being more like the audio quality those who interact with you use when interacting with their non-podcasting friends.
As podcasters, we are judged on the quality of our podcast audio. You don’t need high-quality audio on Clubhouse because Clubhouse isn’t a podcast – it’s a chatroom.
Establish your credibility and authority on Clubhouse by knowing what you’re talking about. Establish intimate connections on Clubhouse by being approachable, kind, and sounding like a friend, both in your words and the quality of your audio.
3. Embrace the small and limited elements of Clubhouse.
A few years ago, I went to see a well-known musician at a 5000-seat venue that was almost empty. He had maybe 500 people there and probably not even that many.
I had purchased balcony seats because I like the balcony. But the crowd was so small and would have been so spread out in the big venue that the balconies were closed and everybody was moved to the floor, very close to the stage.
The artist was pissed and he let people know. Again, and again, and again. Several times throughout the night, he talked about how he’d played for a massive crowd the night before.
That was a missed opportunity.
Nobody in the audience cared how many other people were in the audience – we wanted to see a show. And the artist could have made the experience memorable for everybody by saying something like:
“We’ve got a small crowd for this show. I’m not sure why, but I’m glad. I love small shows where we can really get close. This is something we don’t get the opportunity to do much anymore, so this is really special.”
That would have changed everything. And embracing the “live” element, maybe by taking a request or talking more to the crowd, would have made the experience even more memorable.
You have that opportunity with Clubhouse.
Big Podcast Club
I’ve been organizing some “small” Clubhouse sessions via Big Podcast Club. Everything that happens there is podcasting-focused and designed to help you grow your podcast audience, make more money with your podcast, and more effectively spread your message.
If you’re interested in joining, check it out.