How does Clubhouse and social audio fit into the marketing mix?

social audio

By Fab Giovanetti, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Social audio is the hottest topic on the social media scene and it’s rapidly gaining momentum. I thought it would be a good time to forecast how this could play out as a long-term marketing tactic. 

social audio


I recently interviewed Clubhouse sensation, personal brand expert, and mentor Pavlina Papalouka for an upcoming piece on audio marketing. During our conversation, I asked her why Clubhouse became such a hit:

“Clubhouse gives us a platform to connect with other like-minded people from around the world — without needing to dress up and look good,” she said. “The ‘by invitation only’ feature has contributed to a high-quality audience on the platform, which brings in quality conversations.”

She said that a combination of exclusivity and ease have contributed to the app’s popularity, while the simplicity of its purpose has opened up a whole new avenue for marketers: social audio.

One can also imagine that the loneliness, isolation, and disorientation caused by the pandemic contributed to the success of a platform that allows you to talk to people all day and night! Would Clubhouse have a meteoric rise in 2018? I’m not sure. In any event, it seems like it is here to stay!

The social audio challenge for marketers

On a personal note, I cannot see myself juggling countless platforms with the requisite pressure to constantly publish, engage, and drive people to more established channels like LinkedIn and Instagram. It’s depressing having to build an audience from scratch again! Yet I have seen new Clubhouse connections migrate to my website and business. 

In a recent post, Mark Schaefer outlined marketing challenges with Clubhouse and social audio:

  1. It is “synchronous,” meaning you have to be there in that moment to experience the content. It’s like talk radio in that regard.
  2. It is not recorded (so far!), archived, and discoverable later. It’s tough to commit to creating content on a consistent basis when it can’t be part of a long-term content portfolio.
  3. Many large companies are hesitant to unleash unscripted executives on these new public channels, especially when it is Q&A time!
  4. For small businesses with limited resources, it’s hard to be great in five different places. Should Clubhouse be a top choice if it jeopardizes successful efforts elsewhere?

To make things even more complicated, Clubhouse copycats are blooming like spring flowers …

A craze heats up

Twitter has been charging ahead with its latest Spaces rollout. Facebook’s NPE team has released a beta test of Hotline, a web-based app incorporating the engagement features of Clubhouse with more visual and text tools, including optional video streaming.

Spotify has thrown its hat into the mix (yes, seriously), and even LinkedIn has confirmed its efforts into developing networking audio features. Industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang has documented almost 36 social audio apps in the market today.

“We’re seeing nearly 50 percent growth in conversations on LinkedIn reflected in stories, video shares, and posts on the platform,” Suzi Owens, a spokesperson for LinkedIn,  reported to TechCrunch. “We’re doing some early tests to create a unique audio experience connected to your professional identity. And, we’re looking at how we can bring audio to other parts of LinkedIn such as events and groups, to give our members even more ways to connect to their community.”

According to eMarketer, 2 percent of US adults are now using Clubhouse, showing significant growth in a short space of time. I genuinely do not know who’ll be left standing out of the pack, yet I am confident that regardless of the platform you choose, audio marketing will have a critical place in the future of brand reputation.

How will social audio fit in the marketing mix?

These are four near-term opportunities for marketers going forward:

  • Audio event series and festivals: I can see brands opting to engage in audio events over webinars to encourage a hands-off alternative. As well as allowing more flexibility, it creates a sense of urgency that differentiates the experience from a podcast show 
  • Sponsorships: Brands will be identifying leaders in the space and work together on partnerships, including a combination of sponsored rooms (something I have seen on Clubhouse) or series, just like you could see in a podcast
  • Personal brand and leadership: Platforms like Clubhouse specifically have seen more and more executives and founders interact in rooms and topics as a way to further the reach of their brand and become spokespeople for the values of their company
  • Consumer research: Topical rooms can provide relevant brand insights

The exciting part is that the creativity of Clubhouse fans is boundless. As the platform evolves, new ideas and applications will emerge.

Social audio and the individual

Another aspect of marketing is personal branding and this is where social audio really shines. Social audio is a great avenue to tap into trust and encourage newer audiences to invest in users who spend time sharing their expertise. 

Papalouka, for example, saw first-hand how Clubhouse can support a business: “It has provided a new platform for attracting clients organically for my courses, retreats, and mentoring programs. It has enabled me to form mutually beneficial collaborations with people in my industry I wouldn’t have connected with quickly elsewhere, as some of them are huge brands and celebrities in their niche.”

From my conversations and experiences, a few core practices have been common traits among successful creators:

  • Excellent moderation skills, both with regards to speakers and the audience
  • Consistency in both being proactive speakers and participants of conversations
  • Collaborations with fellow users to amplify discoverability and growth

Currently, Clubhouse is betting its future on its best creators, so great content is being rewarded.

After launching its Creator Accelerator Program last month, hoping to keep top users on the app, Clubhouse has now launched its first direct payment process, which will enable users to transfer funds to their favorite hosts. Will this be what helps Clubhouse stand the test of time? It’s too early to tell. 

As brands are still finding how social audio can enrich their strategy, it’s important to remember that resisting the temptation to jump on the next shiny object will allow you to clearly understand how audio marketing could benefit you achieve your broader business goals.

Fab Giovanetti is an award-winning entrepreneur who supports people making a positive impact through their marketing. She is the CEO of Alt Marketing School, on a mission to raise a new generation of purpose-driven marketers. She is the founder of Creative Impact Group, a collective of hundreds of conscious creatives and experts. Follow Fab on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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