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Clubhouse: Fleeting Exclusivity Trend or Marketing Opportunity?

Written by
Zlata Faerman

Exclusivity has an appealing kind of mystique, leaving those on the outside wondering about all the goings-on they aren’t privy to. It’s no surprise, then, that advertisers have found creative ways to leverage it. One-time only events drive brand awareness by hyping a personalized limited-access experience, while invite-only apps create excitement around the mere idea of inclusion. 

But it’s not just the exclusivity. Think about QVC-style live shows and other buy-it-now programming, and events like pop-up shops with one-day-only inventory. The idea of “here now, gone tomorrow” also creates an urgent need to be engaged at the right time. This idea is powerful and influential — especially when paired with a buying decision. 

The app Clubhouse, for example, has not-so-quietly taken the social media world by storm, thanks in large part to its invite-only format. As exclusivity grows to be all the rage, Clubhouse is definitely riding that wave. Let’s look at some of the ways brands can get in on the action.

Clubhouse: The Cool Place to Be

The rise of Clubhouse, the invite-only social media app with an audio format for user-hosted chats, has given brands yet another place online to consider devoting at least some of their marketing efforts. But is it even a marketing opportunity? 

First, let’s back up and talk about how Clubhouse works. The audio format allows users (which currently number around 10 million) to join chats by browsing rooms that feature specific hosts and topics of interest. Users can join and leave rooms, listening to various discussions and sometimes even be called upon to participate by the host. They can also see who is participating in different rooms. For now, the app is only available on iOS, but the company says an Android version is underway.

By far, the biggest draw of Clubhouse is the FOMO (fear of missing out) The app is only open to users who have been invited by other users. Every user is given a limited number of invitations, which has served to drive hype for the social platform. Celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher have created buzz on Clubhouse, as did Elon Musk, whose appeal drew so much attention it nearly crashed the site. As recently as February, users were selling invitations on Reddit, eBay, Craigslist and more. Indeed, FOMO is a strong motivator. 

So how can brands take advantage? While there is currently no advertising format on Clubhouse, there are plenty of chances to engage with an enthusiastic and interested target market. Here are a few ways to try: 

  1. Via influencers. Engaged audiences are valuable. With Clubhouse, users essentially self-select into interest groups based on room topics, making it an influencer’s playground. As Digiday describes it, the app offers “What every advertiser wants: a highly targeted group of influential individuals in one place.” Working with an appropriate influencer on Clubhouse can be highly valuable for the right brands. Clubhouse is also currently experimenting with Creator Payments, which will allow users to pay creators directly. This will drive more influencers and eyeballs to the platform. 
  2. As thought leaders. Offering what is effectively a multitude of expert panel discussions, Clubhouse serves up topics deep and wide for interested users to explore. These users are highly influenceable, interested parties who aren’t just listening to expert opinions and insights on any given topic — they’re actually seeking them out. It’s a perfect opportunity for brands to flex knowledge and subject matter expertise, supporting overall brand awareness.
  3. Test ideas. While the invite-only environment still exists, marketers can take advantage of the Clubhouse user-base, which remains somewhat of its own ecosystem, a collection of various microcosms of the general population. This makes an ideal place for brands to do some listening of their own, and test out new marketing ideas with smaller segments of their target audiences. Host a room on a new idea and ask the audience about it. Sponsor a room of an influencer that might not be an obvious partnership, just to test the waters with a new audience segment. Explore ideas you might not otherwise have in an environment that’s primed for growth.

Is Clubhouse Right for My Brand?

Before jumping into any new venture as an advertiser — or even just a participant — gauge the appropriateness of it for your brand. If your brand were a person, is this the kind of event they would attend? 

As far as Clubhouse goes, the breadth of topics alone promises that there is likely a place for your brand on it. But, don’t go in without a plan! Consider scalability, access, and brand reputation. Determine your metrics for success ahead of time and get buy-in from employees and internal stakeholders. Like all the platforms before it, and all those that will come after, while the technology might be different, joining Clubhouse as a company requires a plan of attack. 

Have questions about Clubhouse? Interested in learning more about Performance Branding? Let’s talk

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Written by
Zlata Faerman

Zlata is a full-time publicist, part-time writer, and round-the-clock ambassador to wit and humor. As a publicist for over 15 years, she helps launch products with creative ideas and garner press coverage that drives reputation and sales. She also contributes to a variety of lifestyle publications in the areas of food, parenting, health, beauty, marketing, travel, and home. When she’s not crafting kitchen concoctions for her food blog @lifeandthymez, Zlata can be found spending time with her family, having #zlatathoughts, and fantasizing about being a Real Housewife of New Jersey.


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