Clubhouse is the hottest new social media platform, and since it’s audio-only, a lot of people are comparing it to podcasting. With that in mind, I want to address the big question: will Clubhouse kill podcasting?
Today, I’ll share:
- My first impression of Clubhouse
- What the app can do (and what it can’t)
- Which podcasts I think are at the biggest risk of going extinct
- Four strategies that podcasters can use to make the most out of Clubhouse
- One strategy I wouldn’t recommend at all. (Seriously, don’t try it.)
Melissa Guller: If Chris Harrison was the host of this podcast, he might say that this is the most dramatic podcast episode title yet. And drama isn’t usually my style, but with new social media app Clubhouse on the fast track as the latest internet darling, I wanted to address the elephant in the room: will Clubhouse kill podcasting?
The short answer is no, but the longer answer is, “Don’t get comfortable.” So today, I’ll share my first impression of Clubhouse, what the app can do and what it can’t, and which podcasts I think are at the biggest risk of going extinct thanks to this ioS phenomenon. I’ll also share four ways that podcasters can benefit from using Clubhouse, and one strategy I wouldn’t recommend at all. Like seriously, don’t do it.
It’s all coming up on today’s episode of Wit & Wire.
Intro: Welcome to Wit & Wire, the podcast that takes you behind-the-scenes to learn how to start and scale a successful podcast that makes an impact.
I’m your host, Melissa Guller, a Podcast Producer, Host, and Instructor on a mission to amplify and diversify voices in podcasting. In each episode of Wit & Wire, we share podcasting strategies to help podcast hosts of all experience levels find more listeners, increase your revenue, create authentic connections, and climb the charts.
Melissa Guller: Before we start, today’s listener shoutout goes to Jae like the letter. In her very kind podcast review, Jae says, “Melissa is such an amazing mentor and walks though all the things from start to finish. Can’t wait for the rest of season two.” Jae, a huge thank you, and I hope everyone checks out your podcast. Jae is the co-host of In Omnia Paratus, where she and Angela make navigating life as millennials a little less lonely. Follow @inomniapod on Instagram or check them out at inomniapod.com.
Melissa Guller: Alright today we’re doing a Clubhouse deep dive. What’s this app? Why do people love it so much? And how will it affect the future of podcasting?
Let’s start with the basics. What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is an audio-only, iOS-only, INVITE-only, social media platform. In a few ways, it’s like most well-known social media apps. You get in, you create a profile with your username, bio, and photo, and boom, you’re in Clubhouse.
Also like other apps, you can follow people and gain followers. So right off the bat, Clubhouse measures your influence based on your audience size.
But after those core similarities, Clubhouse starts to look a lot different than other apps you already have.
First, it’s audio-only. There are no photo feeds, no videos, no tweets. Nothing. Aside from DM features, truly the way Clubhouse works is to interact via audio-only rooms.
So the way it works is that you can see upcoming events from people or groups you follow, and you can drop in and out of those rooms on a whim. There are some people who are on stage, and they’re the ones who can speak in that room. So for the most part, you are engaging as a listener, and you can raise your hand to participate. The moderator has the choice to call on people, but that’s optional and depends on the room size and vibe.
So ultimately, it’s more like a collection of scheduled Zoom events than it is a true social media feed. But even that’s not a fair comparison because Zoom has chats, recordings, and all kinds of other things. Clubhouse is more like walking through a big virtual mansion and there are tons of rooms going on with different people and different content. And either you catch the conversation or you don’t. It’s not just an audio-first platform. It’s an audio-ONLY platform.
But that obvious difference aside, to me the biggest difference between Clubhouse and other apps like LinkedIn or Instagram isn’t the fact that it’s audio-only, although that’s huge. It’s the fact that it’s live.
In Clubhouse, there are no recordings. There’s no, “Oh you missed it, let me send you the replay!” There’s no queuing up events to tune in later. You’re either in the room live, or you aren’t there at all.
I felt this way when TikTok came out, but I felt like it really had the chance to blossom because of the pandemic, and we were all craving something fun, something to do, or both. With Clubhouse, I feel similarly. People are seeking social connections, so Clubhouse is a fresh way to join real, unedited conversations.
In a lot of ways, I’ve personally felt how important live conversations are in an extraordinarily distant time. Even inside of Wit & Wire’s programs and beta membership program, the live small group sessions are always a true highlight of my week. And I think the magic happens in those groups because they’re just people hanging out and chatting, not because they’re perfectly scripted content. There’s a time and a place for production, but Clubhouse further shows that there’s demand for new ways for people to connect as humans in the way we used to connect live, whether through something as large as a conference or as small as a house party.
I’ve heard a few others rave about how cool it is that in Clubhouse, you could be in a room and a huge celeb or influencer or industry leader might walk in. So in that way, I think it’s fascinating because you could literally be in the same room as Sara Bareilles, or you could chat directly with an online businesswoman you’ve always admired.
But I will say that the first time I got onto Clubhouse, I was totally overwhelmed. I clicked on an event and people started talking and I didn’t know if I was automatically muted so I panicked and just immediately left the room. It was just my gut reaction, so hopefully at least now you’ll know better than me when you enter your first room that it’s not like entering a Zoom meeting late. You can come and go discreetly as you please.
Another reason why so many people seem to love Clubhouse is that you don’t have to create content in advance. Sure, you might have some talking points if you host a room of your own. But you don’t have to create any graphics, you don’t need to perfect any captions, and there’s no editing to do. So I do see the benefit of time saved, depending on how you like to work and interact with people.
But after this short feature, I’m going to talk about how I see Clubhouse affecting podcasting in the future. And I’ll offer a few ways I’d recommend using Clubhouse for podcasters, and one way I’d definitely avoid.
Melissa Guller: When I launched my first podcast, I felt so overwhelmed. There were too many growth strategies out there, and I couldn’t figure out which ones would work for me. I felt paralyzed by the dozens of apps and strategies experts told me I should be trying, and I had no clue where to start.
But I quickly realized that all successful hosts have three things in common. They produce high-quality content, they keep getting in front of new audiences, and most importantly, they stay consistent.
That’s why I decided that I wanted to try a new way to serve podcast hosts this year, and I’m excited to share that I’m enrolling beta members into a small community of active podcasters. This isn’t about doing everything at once. Instead, my philosophy is that small actions over time add up, and that podcasting is better together. So for our members, my goal is to help you find more listeners, hit 5- and 6-figure download milestones, and add revenue streams to your podcast. As long as you’ve launched with at least one episode, you’re qualified to join.
So if you’re ready to build your podcast alongside a small community of kind, driven women in podcasting, visit witandwire.com/membership to learn more and join today.
Melissa Guller: Ok, it’s time to get into the relationship between Clubhouse and podcasting. First up, how might they overlap, and second, how are they different?
First, the obvious overlap is that they’re both audio-only. Clubhouse might lack the bells and whistles of a polished podcast episode, but if you’re interviewing a guest on your podcast or chatting with a co-host, chances are you could have a similar conversation on Clubhouse, but with an audience.
And the thought of having an audience is actually kind of interesting. Because then as the host, you don’t just get to interview your guest. You get to introduce your listeners to the guest, and they could actually ask their questions directly. This is huge because it’s so valuable. You’re connecting your listeners with amazing resources, and the chance to ask those kinds of questions live is incredible.
But to me, the huge difference is that podcasting is on-demand, while Clubhouse is exclusively live. So if you can’t attend the live time in Clubhouse, you miss out entirely. And not only that, but there are no good ways to record in Clubhouse, and frankly, I wouldn’t try it. It’s not what the platform was built for, and I think many Clubhouse users wouldn’t expect to be recorded. I won’t even get into the legal implications of permissions and all that other stuff I know I’m not equipped to answer, but I do feel confident in saying that I don’t recommend trying to repurpose your Clubhouse events into podcast episodes. Maybe this will evolve in the future. I don’t think this is a forever recommendation. But for now, it’s not what I’d try.
On top of the tech or legal limitations, I also just think it would be a mistake to try and utilize Clubhouse in the same way as you use your podcast. I wouldn’t use it as a distribution channel. Like I know some people post their podcast episode to YouTube. I won’t get to into that conversation today, but in general, my thoughts on that are that it’s not the right strategy for most podcasters, even though it works amazingly for just a few. But with Clubhouse, I don’t think it should be treated as a podcast distribution channel. Like even if you could magically broadcast your episodes to Clubhouse, I just don’t think people are tuning in for pre-recorded content. Like if you told me I’d be seeing Sara Bareilles live and I showed up and it was a high def recording of her album streaming at Madison Square Garden, like this is not what I signed up for. So I’d treat your Clubhouse content as live-first.
Now assuming that you might have a podcast and that separately you’d like to use Clubhouse, here are four great ways that I think podcasters or business owners can benefit from using Clubhouse.
First, you can use Clubhouse to find new guests for your show. I personally think that you get a much better sense of someone through a conversation or an audio-only experience than you can over Instagram, and there are a ton of great ways to build connections through Clubhouse that could lead to you finding guests for your podcast. Not only that, I think you could find all kinds of partnership opportunities, from pitching yourself as a guest, collaborating on a project or a joint venture like a webinar, or getting creative on all kinds of ways we can build each other up by working together. So I think that’s amazing.
The third way I see podcasters using Clubhouse is to partner up and cohost conversations. My first suggestion was to use Clubhouse to network and find partners, but this suggestion is different because I’m suggesting that you use the idea of cohosting a Clubhouse conversation as a way to actually open a partnership door. So the way this would work is you’d reach out to someone via Clubhouse, email, or DM on any platform, and you’d ask if they’d be interested in joining a panel or roundtable, whatever you want to call it, about X topic. Maybe you’re even looking for 2-4 other people, so it really is a panel. I think this could be an amazing way to connect with tons of new partners, and maybe even after the Clubhouse event they go on to join your podcast or collaborate further. But I think that would be an interesting strategy to try. The benefit here too is that you could all build your Clubhouse followings and the size of your event audience, because hopefully you’d all be promoting the event equally. A win win for all.
Third, you can use Clubhouse as almost an after party for your episodes, or a way to build on the content you’re already creating. For example, if you release new podcast episodes on Wednesdays, like I do, maybe you’d host a Q&A or discussion on Clubhouse on Thursday where people can show up and participate. To give a very real example, when I was running Book Smart with my cohost Em, I could see us trying Clubhouse as a way to chat with our listeners about the books we were reading. It wouldn’t replace our podcast episodes. Instead, it would further the conversation and create a sense of community. You could also try inviting your guest to join the Clubhouse followup conversation, and I have a feeling a lot of guests would be interested because they have the potential to interact with prospective clients or fans.
The fourth and final way I think podcasters can benefit from Clubhouse is just to learn. There are conversations going on inside Clubhouse on truly every topic, from plants to parenting, so it isn’t just about business. But there are a lot of conversations going on about digital marketing and online business growth that can be super helpful for podcasters, so it could be fun to check it out.
I’m sure there are even more benefits I’ve missed or that will continue to evolve as the app grows and grows. But to wrap up before we go, I have to address the spicy question I first posed at the beginning of this episode and in the title. Will Clubhouse kill podcasting?
And after reading through a bunch of articles from other podcasting experts, it seems like the general consensus is “of course not,” but there’s a catch.
With this very casual audio-only social platform, I think more and more people will get used to having interactive conversations on Clubhouse. So continuing with the trend I talked about in Episode 21, about hosts needing to figure out more ways to actually engage with their listeners in a two-way conversation, I do see Clubhouse becoming a choice social media for podcast hosts, maybe even over other platforms.
But overall, podcasts still have two big things that Clubhouse doesn’t: on-demand access, and editing. The fact that you can listen to podcast episodes anytime is so huge. Like for example, this episode is coming out in February 2021. And some of you might listen the day it comes out, or even a few days or weeks later. But other people won’t even find out about this podcast episode for another year, and undeniably they will be laughing at all of these absurd things I’ve said in the event that I’m completely wrong. Or I’ll look like a wise all-knowing internet sage, only time will tell. But the point is, unlike this episode, much of what we create as podcast hosts is evergreen. In fact my most popular podcast episode of all time, across all of my podcasts, was an episode released in early 2019. And because it’s evergreen content, about a book called Atomic Habits, people can tune into it years later and it’s not only still relevant, but it’s still logistically available to them. Clubhouse isn’t like that, nor do I expect them to release recordings unless they throw their hands up and decide to go after podcasting. But until then, it’s like asking if live concerts will replace Spotify. It just doesn’t compute because one is an intentionally live experience, and the other is on demand and you can put your favorite songs on repeat again and again. They’re just different.
That said, I think it would be a mistake to say that Clubhouse won’t have any effect on podcasting at all. Just as TikTok influenced Instagram and led to Reels, I think Clubhouse will still have an impact.
First, I think it could affect format. With the panels and conversations people get used to hearing on Clubhouse, I think the podcasts that succeed will be the ones that are really well produced. And well-produced doesn’t have to mean fancy tech, although I do think there’s already a well-established baseline there for clean audio and something that doesn’t sound like a bad Zoom connection.
Melissa Guller: It’s time to put one of today’s strategies in action with my first ever Clubhouse event. On Thursday February 25, 2021, I’m co-hosting an event called Clubhouse Strategies for Podcasters. It’s going to be an interactive event, and I’d love to learn more about how you’ve been using Clubhouse to build your podcast, find guests, or engage with listeners. It’s casual, so you can also show up and ask me anything about Clubhouse and I’d be happy to share my extremely unqualified opinions. Learn more and add the event to your calendar at witandwire.com/clubhouse and follow me over there @melissaguller.
If you aren’t on Clubhouse, head over to Instagram @witandwire to let me know what you think about this whole Clubhouse thing. Are you excited to try? Hate it already? Or maybe you’ve already found connections and success? I’d love to hear about the good and the bad, so you’ll find a post on my Instagram account about Clubhouse where I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Melissa Guller: Thank you so much for joining me this week for an extra spicy episode of Wit & Wire. To see the full list of Clubhouse strategies for podcasters, you can check out the recap at witandwire.com/27. And although I’m just dipping my toe in the water for now, I’d love to have you follow me on Clubhouse @melissaguller or on Instagram @witandwire to continue talking about all things podcasting.
If you’re an early bird tuning into this episode right when it’s released, don’t forget to mark your calendar for our upcoming Clubhouse event on Thursday Feb 25 at 6:00 PM EST. Find the link in the show notes, or at witandwire.com/clubhouse.
Lastly, if you’re interested in finding more podcast listeners and expanding your income and influence as a host, check out our new Wit & Wire beta membership for podcasters at witandwire.com/membership.
I’m Melissa Guller, and you’ve been listening to Wit & Wire. I’ll see you next time, podcasters.
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