Checking in on Clubhouse

The rise of audio platforms, including Clubhouse isn’t all talk. Since we first posted about Clubhouse in February, audio continues to be an upward trend, despite skepticism from many about the long-term future of audio. With new announcements about Clubhouse almost daily, we’re sharing an overview of the latest changes and how they may present challenges and opportunities for your brand.

Increase in funding and leadership
Although other platforms are looking to make a mark in the audio-based industry, Clubhouse is still raising money from investors. In April 2021, the social network was valued at $4 billion. And it’s not only investors who are interested—former leadership from Netflix, Spotify and Instagram have all joined the executive team.

Monetization for Creators
In April 2021, the platform announced the ability for users to send money to their favorite creators or speakers. The new feature is like a virtual tip jar, or a Clubhouse-branded version of Venmo.

Brands & Leadership Engagement
More and more brands are finding opportunities to engage on the platform. Examples include:
NFL: Hosted exclusive content, beginning with ongoing live conversations around the NFL Draft.
Pedigree: Partnered with three Clubhouse moderators for a conversation on the benefits of pet ownership for mental and physical health. Listeners could click on the dogs’ profile image to learn more and potentially adopt, resulting in four dogs finding a permanent home.
Novartis: NIBR president Jay Bradner was a guest on a16z’s Clubhouse series “It’s Time to Heal,” which covers the future of bio and healthcare.

The rise of copycats
The major players in the social media industry have quickly jumped into the audio-only space:
– Twitter: In 2020, the platform announced Spaces, live audio conversations for a limited group of people. This May, Twitter announced the ability to host a Space to all accounts with 600 or more followers.
– LinkedIn: In late March, LinkedIn confirmed testing of a social audio experience. The platform says it would be different from competitors due to the professional nature of the connections.
– Facebook: In mid-April, Facebook announced a series of audio-only features including live audio rooms, podcasts, Soundbites (short-form, creative audio clips for capturing anecdotes, jokes, etc.) and audio creator monetization opportunities.
– Reddit: Reddit Talk, a new feature that lets you host live audio conversations in your communities was announced in mid-April.
– Spotify: In March, Spotify bought the Locker Room app, which hosts live audio conversations about sports. Since then, the company rebranded the name to Spotify Greenroom and plans to offer a wider range of content.

Challenges for Health Brands
– No paid advertising at this time
– Continued absence of community guidelines and moderation
– Lack of demographic data and measurement capabilities
– Self-help conversations dominate; health conversations are not as prominent
– Platform security concerns
– Threat of copycat platforms is still in question

Opportunities for Health Brands
– Health and biotech start-ups can gain awareness and reach new, niche audiences
– Executive and thought leadership involvement in existing “rooms” vs. creating brand-owned conversations
– Opportunities for brands to hear first-hand from communities offering insight into potential barriers and trends
– Mental health conversations are frequent

Tell us: What do you predict for the future of audio-only social platforms and the health industry?