The tiny little drop-in audio app called Clubhouse is still making waves, and it’s not so tiny any longer. Case in point: I recently invited a few influencers like Shay Rowbottom to join a Clubhouse chat and noticed how a crowd gathered quickly.
We’re talking about a few hundred people or so, but that’s far more than I’ve noticed during a few pitch meetings I’ve had in recent weeks.
Shay talked about what it means to be an influencer today, the need for authenticity, and how growing her platform on LinkedIn (which is about 600,000 strong now) was really an exercise in due diligence. She tends to produce videos that are wonderfully insightful and often funny, so I’m eager to see what she can do on Clubhouse.
Another luminary named Alexa Carlin spoke during the chat about how being an influencer requires that you have something to influence people about in the first place. Will Huff, who runs a marketing club on Clubhouse and HR expert Katrina Ghazarian also joined. Wellness expert and podcaster Kristel Bauer spoke about how her impetus to becoming a social media influencer came from personal experiences with her family and realizing she had a host of tips and advice to offer.
I could relate to all of these experts, because in my field of communication it’s obvious when people don’t have too much to communicate about and when they do. Some use smoke and mirrors to hide the lack of substance. On Clubhouse, what I like most is that you can’t really hide behind a Twitter handle. It’s your real voice, relaying real information. You can commandeer information from others and maybe read it off a cue card, but that’s going to sound a bit odd on a live audio chat.
It was cool with my group of experts that they could respond to just about any question with fresh insight. I’ve been following Shay Rowbottom on LinkedIn for some time, and she is anything but light on substance. There’s a deep well of information arising from her business acumen and personal experiences, often interwoven in an interesting way.
What makes me so interested in Clubhouse is that it’s poised to become “the sixth network” behind Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. (In case you’re wondering, YouTube is extremely social, judging from the thousands of comments you see and the connections happening when people subscribe and stay loyal to a brand.)
Clubhouse has some competition, but it could become the audio equivalent of a social media juggernaut. I know some people seem to hate it, and the millionaire chats are annoying. If I never have to awkwardly bow out of yet another room where a talking head explains a marketing scheme to about 14 people I’ll be happy.
And yet, in my influencer chat, it felt more like I had a panel of experts who would normally be up on a stage somewhere, who joined because they had some free time and an iPhone. I love the impromptu nature of holding these interactive podcasts with a constant feedback loop of helpful information. Sure, the loop can get stale. I’ve attended brilliant audio collaborations and really lame sales-talk confabs.
What will help the app grow is when people like Shay, Alexa, Kristel and the other experts in my room start holding regular get togethers, share their insights, and amass super-sized followings. I’m looking forward to the first time Shay announces on LinkedIn that she’s doing a Clubhouse chat.
When LinkedIn and Twitter first started growing, I was trying to build my own network and didn’t pay attention to what future influencers were doing. (And how could anyone know? Most of us were trying to figure out how to use hashtags and fend off the trolls.) Now we have the advantage of watching people like Alexa Carlin (who already has a club with 23,000 members) and what they do to stay connected, who joins their rooms, and what they say.
When they start dominating, look out. They will figure out how to monetize the interest, draw in massive crowds, and create keen business synergy.
I’m going to keep watching this space.
More importantly, I’m going to keep watching the influencers.
John Brandon is a well-known journalist who has published over 15,000 articles on social media, technology, leadership, mentoring, and many other topics. Before starting