Join the club: Top tips for hosting a Clubhouse event
The current hype around Clubhouse is easy to understand. The audio-only format of the iPhone social networking app is naturally appealing to a world suffering from screen-fatigue, its invite-only approach gives it an air of exclusivity, and its use by well-known celebrities is certainly generating interest, so many businesses are considering hosting a Clubhouse event of their own.
We’re already seeing the platform used to encourage open discussion within the tech sector, with a variety of tech leaders from Akash Bajwa, founder of the European Tech Club, to Anna Alex, founder of carbon offsetting software Planetly, active on the app. Clubhouse conversations are taking place within the digital advertising industry, and we recently attended a thought-provoking event entitled, Adtech: The European Perspective, which explored technologies and trends driving the sector, and brought together voices from the likes of IAB, Xaxis, Beeswax, Publicis, ID5, Peer39 and Verizon Media.
In describing the purpose of their creation, Clubhouse founders Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth explain “Our goal was to build a social experience that felt more human – where instead of posting, you could gather with other people and talk. Our north star was to create something where you could close the app at the end of the session feeling better than you did when you opened it, because you had deepened friendships, met new people and learned.”
While the current popularity of Clubhouse is undoubted, it remains to be seen whether the app can maintain momentum in the long term. Once COVID-19 restrictions are eased and people can interact in person, face-to-face discussions may once again be the favoured option. And the app is likely to lose its invite-only exclusivity as it moves out of the beta testing phase and opens up to the world, with an Android app already in development. What’s more, many existing social networks – including Discord and LinkedIn – are experimenting with their own audio offering which will naturally create competition in the space.
As we wait to see how the app evolves, here are a few pointers for businesses looking to take advantage of its current popularity and host a Clubhouse event, panel or discussion of their own.
Build up a following before planning a large event
Discussions on Clubhouse are held within a ‘room,’ and there are two ways to start a room. For spontaneous, instant discussions, users can just press ‘start room’ and open up a conversation, but for a planned panel or discussion users should set up a future event which will be included on the Clubhouse events calendar.
A Clubhouse room can hold up to 5,000 users, but before businesses attempt a large-scale event, they should consider joining and hosting a number of smaller rooms to get used to the format and to build their following. By creating smaller rooms for discussions around topics they are passionate about, they can establish their position as industry experts, and can invite other members with larger followings to join them, increasing their exposure to users with similar interests.
If a member hosts three rooms within three weeks they can apply to start a ‘club,’ which is a theme or topic users can follow, and under which individual rooms are hosted. A relevant bio for both individual members and clubs will make them searchable, which will also help to build a following.
When an event is created, any members that follow the individual creator or the club will get a notification to join. A link will also be generated that can be used to publicise the discussion on other social channels. Once the event is in progress it will be displayed in the Clubhouse ‘hallway,’ which is a list of rooms where live discussions are taking place. When a room is open, the host can prompt attendees to invite someone they know into that room. Businesses should be mindful that all participants currently need an Apple device and an invitation to join Clubhouse, which will inevitably restrict the reach of the event.
Be clear on roles before hosting a Clubhouse event
When a Clubhouse room is open and the discussion is underway, there are specific roles that need to be filled. Businesses should allocate these in advance, being clear about the responsibilities of each one when they host a Clubhouse event.
The member that creates the room will automatically become the moderator, which means they control who comes up ‘on stage’ as a speaker. They determine whether audience members have the option to raise their hand to ask if they can come on stage and join the conversation, and also have the ability to put individuals on mute. The moderator can pass on their role to someone else while the room is open.
An event or room on Clubhouse should also have a host. This doesn’t need to be the same person as the moderator, and ideally shouldn’t be as they will have more than enough to think about. Their role is to keep the discussion on track, bring order to the room and anticipate what the audience wants to hear about. They need to strike a fine balance between sticking to the subject the event was planned around, and allowing participants to take the conversation in interesting new directions. As audience members are likely to move in and out of the room during the discussion, the host may need to restate the purpose and theme of the event at regular intervals to cater for new arrivals.
A club can have several admins, who can each create, moderate and host individual rooms. This means a club can have several events or discussions running at any one time. As well as setting roles before hosting a Clubhouse event, businesses should also discuss elements such as how many people should be allowed on stage at any one time – to keep the discussion manageable – how long people should be able to talk for, and how to encourage people to stick to the point and add value to the conversation, rather than spending too long giving background information or blatantly selling their product or service.
Consider how the event will be recorded
Clubhouse discussions are not archived on the app so there is no playback option. The idea is that people actually have to be in the room if they want to hear or take part in the discussion, which plays to members’ fear of missing out.
In reality, of course, it is quite possible to record or even live stream Clubhouse rooms using other apps or devices. When Elon Musk’s conversation with Vlad Tenev attracted more that 5,000 people to the Clubhouse room, for instance, it was live streamed on YouTube so a wider audience could be included. When businesses are hosting Clubhouse events they should always assume the audio is being recorded in some way, and may want to arrange to record or live stream it themselves. Doing this means non-members and Android users can be included, and businesses can use the resulting recording to create post-event content for other social channels.
For more advice around hosting effective events, via Clubhouse or other channels, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.