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Clubhouse´s Sonic Boom

Brenda Martinez

15 APRIL 2021

The social landscape was flooded with visual content before but the last few months have brought on a deluge. Between the incessant social media scroll and the proliferation of livestreams, we’re starting to check out of all the visual stimuli. And then, to disrupt the noise, came Clubhouse: an invite-only, audio-centric platform that’s transforming our cultural landscape.

Audio isn’t a Clubhouse exclusive; it’s part of every social platform. Vine (RIP) soundbites still proliferate as memes. TikTok also trades in sounds: trends on the app aren’t just dictated by visual or textual markers — they’re also led by song snippets, soundbites, and verbal calls to action. After all, how impactful is a transition without the perfect background song? But that visual component is still necessary in all of the usual social apps, from TikTok to IG to YouTube. And that visibility, in the words of Michel Foucault, can also function as a trap.

Clubhouse, in contrast, strips back that visibility that we’ve all become accustomed to — the visibility that encourages a social performance. When you drop in on a Clubhouse conversation, you don’t have to look presentable and you don’t have to constantly check yourself out the way we all do on Zoom calls. And unlike the semi-permanence of other platforms, the content on Clubhouse is ephemeral. Unless someone’s made a guerilla screen-recording of a room, the conversation simply disappears. In the age of constant documentation, letting something dissipate is a contrarian act.

Clubhouse also has that elusive, off-the-cuff, content edge to it that other platforms strive for. It relies on the functions of your phone, and similar to a call, you can hear the sonic textures on the other line, from the distinct soundscapes of cities like LA or NY to someone’s dog barking in the background. Simply put, Clubhouse has what the other apps do not, and that’s made it appealing to brands.

Collaborate With Your Creative Network
We’ve said it before: a brand that jumps on a platform simply for the sake of following headlines won’t really make waves; but a brand that engages with intention is a cultural producer. As Clubhouse continues to grow — it’s currently clocked in at 10M+ downloads, 2M weekly users, and an average dwell time of 11-22 hours per week —, consider tapping your existing creative network. By leveraging the existing cultural ties of your brand, you can show up and stand out in new ways, offering unique access to cultural figures and conversations.

Lean Into The Intimacy
What distinguishes Clubhouse from other platforms is that it’s unscripted and unpolished. Rather than the glossy production of visual platforms, Clubhouse inspires a distinct intimacy, providing a space for conversations that break down barriers and get everyday users into the rooms where it happens — without a paywall. Rethink how you define engagement and success beyond the number of users in a room, and consider how you can give users a new kind of insider look at your brand by throwing some of the pretence out the window.

Play With The Format
The usual format of a Clubhouse room relies on a variation of a panel discussion or a themed conversation. But that’s not the only way to engage with the app. Clubhouse users are remixing rooms to create distinct sonic experiences. There are rooms dedicated to ambient sounds; there are live DJ sets (like the ones that popped up as memorials to DMX), rooms with guided meditations, even a room where people can let off steam by moaning like whales. And last December, Black creatives organized and put on a musical production of The Lion King. Consider creating new types of live brand experiences, crafting distinct soundscapes that tell novel stories about your brand, or ones that can be integrated into brand environments as we move towards a post-vax reality.

A new Clubhouse competitor pops up every day, the most recent being Facebook’s, and as we start to move out of quarantine, the platforms that sustained us during the pandemic will continue to shape our landscape. The future of social will focus on sound, on new experiences and platforms that can define and create a new language that differentiates itself from the visual codes of older platforms and the performance of newer ones. And that language will continue to evolve.

For deeper thoughts on the constantly-shifting social landscape and more insights on what’s next, meet us in the Clubhouse hallway or slide into our inbox.

With love,
Brenda