Last week, a friend sent me an invitation to the new audio-based social media platform, Clubhouse. I immediately jumped on, planning to spend a few minutes checking it out, but spent two hours in virtual rooms, listening to everyone from actress and comedian, Tiffany Haddish, to entrepreneur, Larry Kim. In one room where creatives where asking each other for help and sharing referrals, I pressed the ‘raise your hand’ button just to see if they would call me up. There were over 500 other people in that room. Sure enough, one of the moderators added me to the ‘stage’ and soon I was called up to speak.

Stunned, I put in a request for writers to interview and a woman who runs a company that helps leaders and entrepreneurs publish their books said she would be happy to connect me to some of her clients. Meanwhile, someone was offered a job opportunity and another person was connected with a photographer who can do photo shoots remotely – using their client’s phone. It was all too surreal.

I took a break and was soon back again, this time in a room full of Zimbabweans based all over the world and then in a room full of people looking for romantic partnerships (I promise this was just out of curiosity) and then in a room where a group of top social media influencers were giving tips on scaling social media accounts.

I was hooked.

 

But what is Clubhouse?

If you haven’t heard of Clubhouse yet, or signed up (currently it’s only by invitation and only for iOs users) it’s a social media app that is like a cross between Zoom, podcasting and Facebook live – without the video. It’s all audio. Users sign on to the platform and then are able to enter ‘rooms’ where discussions are happening.

Each discussion is run by one or more moderators. Anyone on the platform can start a room and invite people they know, trust or respect to be a co-moderator. Once you’re in a room you ask to speak by pressing the ‘raise your hand’ button and just like that you can talk to the most elusive, hardest to reach people in your industry.

And that’s where the I see real power of Clubhouse; the ability to connect people – in real time and in the fact that a lot of influencers and leaders in various fields are active on the platform, hanging out in rooms and speaking live, ready to answer questions; Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are two of the platforms most famous users.

The second incredible advantage Clubhouse has over other social media platforms is that because they are new and still growing, they haven’t started trying to monetize it yet. Organic growth on Clubhouse is crazy. But, here’s the kicker, because you can add your Instagram and Twitter accounts to your Clubhouse profile, some people are seeing new organic growth to those platforms as well as their Clubhouse followers check out their presence on other social media accounts.

Clubhouse was launched in April 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping across the world. To date, it has about 10 million users and growing rapidly (it had 600,000 users in December 2020). Given that Instagram and Tik Tok have over 1 billion users, Facebook about 3 billion and Twitter over 300 million, this is a great time to get first mover advantage on the platform.

 

Clubhouse screenshots

 

 

 

Here are some great opportunities for writers and poets on Clubhouse.

 

1. Start a room around a particular topic or genre to bring writers together

When you start a room, it can be open (anyone on Clubhouse can enter), social (only people you follow can enter) or closed (only people you choose can enter). You can start a room on the spot, but it’s more powerful to schedule a room for a particular date and time and then people who are interested in that topic can make plans to attend.

 

2. Start a Club (a club is akin to a group on Facebook – it brings people of similar interests together to network)

In order to start a club, you need to have hosted a room at least three times. The powerful thing about clubs is that you can have members and followers who are notified every time you host a room. That’s a ready audience waiting to listen.

 

3. Invite publishers, editors and other industry professionals to be guests in your rooms

If people are on Clubhouse already, you can DM them on Instagram or Twitter and invite them to be guests or co-moderators in your room. Because Clubhouse is new, there is a great community feeling in a lot of the rooms I have been in, with people offering help in ways I haven’t seen on other platforms. I have listened to people speak and then direct messaged them, making sure to say I heard them on Clubhouse. Each one of the three people I have messaged so far has responded kindly and courteously. If you have ever tried to cold-DM sought-after speakers and coaches you will know that it’s hard to get a response. The we’re-on-Clubhouse-together glue is working – for now. Use it.

 

4. Host reading events, poetry slams, story slams – your imagination is the limit

Imagine bringing your favorite poets into the same room for a slam or recital? Or starting a club where poets from anywhere in the world can perform or where writers can read from their work. You could even have a panel of editors select pieces for publication based on readings. It’s crazy to think of all the things you could do. I get giddy just thinking about it.

 

5. Host informational sessions where you share from your experiences as a writer

A simple way to start off building your room experience is to host sessions where you talk about what you have learnt from your experience writing and publishing your book(s). You can also ask others to chime in.

 

6. Enter as many rooms as possible and share useful information

The other side of the coin with sharing useful info is to enter rooms that other people are hosting and share valuable information. It is a Clubhouse tradition that people in a room will check out the bio and Twitter/Instagram profiles of the person who is speaking as a way of helping to weigh their contribution. In one room I was in, a speaker’s Instagram followers increased by over 200 while he was talking.

Each room has its own surprises. Just yesterday, I listened as real estate mogul, Frank McKinney, offered to write the foreword for a book that someone who had chimed into a conversation was writing.

On the writing front, there are already clubs with names like Writers Write, Writer’s Club, Write That Thang, Urban Poets Brigade, Write the Book, Write Your High Impact Book and Bestselling Authors Club, etc and rooms happening every day.

 

7. Find a place to vent

Oh, the all important vent. Clubhouse is a great place for finding shoulders to lean on and making new friendships. Some people have already found love, signed deals and booked holidays together, based on time spent together in Clubhouse rooms. Some of the best rooms I have been in have been those where there is no overall speaker, but where anyone can share. When the words are not coming, maybe a little time in a room with other writers can help you recenter. A word of warning though, Clubhouse is super-addictive. I am usually good with other social media platforms – but Clubhouse has done me in. I keep wanting to hear more. And I am not alone, one user said she spent 24 hours straight on the app when she first joined. Another said she spent more than 12hrs a day for the first two days. So be warned.

 

8. Take a leaf from the top Clubhouse users

There are users who are reaching tens of thousands of followers within a few days on Clubhouse. The online marketing, coaching and entrepreneurship crowd is on there really aggressively. When I say aggressively, I mean there are people spending 6, 8, 10 hours a day actively participating in rooms because they see this as a window to organically grow their social media following on Clubhouse, Instagram and Twitter. But it’s not about social media followings, it’s about audiences, attention, sales. Clubhouse is one of the easiest sources of free traffic, free leads and free readers right now.

I am not suggesting spending all your life on this app. But, if you are struggling to get a foothold on other social media platforms, here is an opportunity to get into a new one while it’s still sizzling hot.

Fungai Tichawangana
Author: Fungai Tichawangana

Fungai is a journalist, writer and web developer who is passionate about tech and promoting the arts. In 2015 he was awarded a Nieman Journalism Fellowship and Berkman Klein Fellowship for Journalism Innovation.

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