At the start of COVID-19, lockdowns were still something of a shock. The world was changing quickly, and it seemed like we were swiftly entering a nightmarish situation in which socializing was becoming a thing of the past.
Whether by sheer coincidence or by purposeful intention, technology came to the rescue. But the tech we’re going to be taking a look at today isn’t the video calling platform that’s become so ubiquitous that it’s entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Instead, we’ll be looking at something a bit more “elite” — an invitation-only club that arrived at the pandemic’s beginning and helped bring us out of our solitude.
That app is Clubhouse, the first mover in the burgeoning space that has come to be known as “social audio.” In this beginner’s guide, we’re going to look at what exactly social audio is and how you can use it to market your business.
What Is Social Audio?
Social audio refers to a new breed of social media platform that focuses on — you guessed it — audio instead of text, video, and images.
But we’re not talking SoundCloud here — social audio isn’t designed for music (although it can be used for it). Instead, social audio attempts to bring communication back to its basics — talking.
Essentially, social audio apps are Zooms without the video, podcasts you can interact with, or, if you want to be really old school, conference calls.
Of course, there are a few features that differentiate social audio apps from these analogies. For one, you can make profiles and follow other people. You can scroll through a feed that lists different events and quickly pop in and out of them. Even though there is typically a group of presenters, audience members can interact with them.
Overall, it’s more casual and less committal than signing up for a Zoom conference, and it’s more interactive than a podcast. Plus, it lets you connect with other people and follow them just like you would on Facebook or Instagram.
Out of all the social audio apps, Clubhouse is the forerunner. Released in February 2020, it kicked off the trend, partly because it was invite-only, which lent it an air of mystery and exclusivity. Indeed, it quickly became an excellent place for celebrities to hang out during the pandemic, and the fact that invites were hard to come by (and to some extent still are) made people want in on it all the more.
Following the stir that Clubhouse kicked off, bigger companies got involved. Now, there are several other social audio apps out there, including:
- Twitter Spaces
- Locker Room by Spotify
- Facebook Live Audio Rooms
Should Your Business Be on Social Audio?
When any new social media trend starts to emerge, business owners and marketers want to know one thing: should my business be on it?
As is often the case, there’s no easy answer to that question. Social audio is so new that it’s impossible to tell where it will be next year. It’s possible that Clubhouse will become a household name like Twitter or Facebook. Still, it’s equally likely that as the pandemic peters out, people will become less interested in talking on Clubhouse when they can go out and meet people in person again.
This much is clear: using social audio won’t hurt your business, and if you like to converse, then there’s no reason not to use it. Suppose you’re able to build up a following on Clubhouse. In that case, that’s likely to translate over to other platforms given how much of a time investment Clubhouse requires from its users — it’s much easier to like a photo on Instagram and keep on scrolling than it is to sit through an entire talk. So, if you get someone to do the latter, you’re good as gold.
Plus, it’s relatively easy to make yourself come across as an authority just by entering other rooms and offering advice or your own experiences in response to questions — or even asking questions of your own. After all, you have to be somewhat of a big shot even to get an invite, right? (No, not really, but you can let everyone think that.)
However, there are several good reasons not to be on social audio or at least not to invest in it.
The spontaneous nature of social audio makes it a lot riskier than text or image-based social media. When you speak live, you don’t get the opportunity to run every word you say by a publicist or public relations specialist or sleep on your messaging before you post it. Even the best-trained speakers can slip up now and then, and if you say the wrong thing, it can follow you forever.
Another issue is that it’s simply challenging to get your room noticed. Even if you set up a room with a great panel, there’s no way to promote it within Clubhouse. You’ll have to rely on your followers and your other social media channels — but there’s another problem: Clubhouse is still invite-only, so you may not reach anyone who’s able to attend even if they want to!
Unfortunately, there’s also no way to tell whether or not your event was successful or not as there are no solid measurement and analytics tools yet.
And of course, there’s no guarantee that social audio will stick around for very long, so if Clubhouse fades away, your investment might disappear without an ROI as well. That said, if you’re using Twitter Spaces or Facebook Live Audio Rooms, this risk is practically eliminated since you’ll be building up a following on two major platforms that have withstood the test of time.
Key Takeaways: Social Audio for Business
Social audio is in its nascent stages, and there’s no way to tell where it will go in the long term. While it’s tempting to throw money at an emerging social media trend, it’s probably not too wise to go too deep into social audio at this time.
However, if you’ve got a knack for public speaking or enjoy it, getting on social audio can be a great idea. Social audio can lead to deep and long-lasting connections if you know what you’re talking about and can converse intelligently with others.
The moral of the story is this: keep an eye on social audio. If you thrive in the setting that social audio offers, then get on there and get your name out there. But if your business doesn’t naturally align with these spaces, don’t force yourself into it to get on the bandwagon and be part of the next big trend.