The hot new social media app Clubhouse has been made famous by celebrity users like Elon Musk, Drake, Oprah and Ashton Kutcher. The fact that the one-year-old app is already worth a billion dollars may also have gotten your attention.
Perhaps even some of your clients are using it.
If you are looking for a new and authentic way to profitably network, market and learn, then Clubhouse might be right for you. I have been experimenting with the app since joining earlier this year, and here are my insights on how real estate agents can make the most of this fast-growing platform.
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse started exclusively for insiders. It was only available by invitation, and the first users were the wealthy and powerful investment bankers, coders and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. Even today, over a year later, you cannot join without an invitation from another user.
Nothing turns people on like playing hard to get. I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received — including from people I barely know — asking me if I have a spare invitation. The fear of missing out turned out to be an ideal growth strategy, and 8 million people downloaded the app within 12 months of its launch in March of 2020.
Clubhouse calls itself the “drop-in audio chat app.” The first crucial difference between Clubhouse and the social media most of us already use is that Clubhouse is based on sound. The medium of Clubhouse is not text, video or photos. It’s talking.
There is something else unusual about Clubhouse: It’s live. This is not a podcast app where you listen to programs that were previously recorded. On Clubhouse, you are listening to the conversation — and can even take part — as it happens in real time.
This is both a huge benefit and a terrible annoyance. If you have favorite hosts, for example, they might not be active each time you log onto the app. With a podcast, you can just listen to their most recent show, but on Clubhouse, you have to be on the app at the same time they are.
On the other hand, the fact that conversations on Clubhouse are live and interactive can create moments of incredible depth and interest. Conversations on the app are more intimate and immediate than their closest corollaries in the real world, which would be seminars or panel discussions.
That’s despite the fact that you might be talking to people located all over the world and whom you probably would never have a chance to meet in person.
Audio is not new. We’ve had commercial radio in the U.S. for over 100 years. And earnest businesspeople have attended industry conferences and trade shows, I’m sure, since the invention of currency.
How to use Clubhouse
You might be surprised when you first use the app how much it’s like attending a real-life convention or Inman Connect. You come through the glass revolving doors at the hotel or convention center.
There’s a screen or bulletin board with a schedule that tells you which sessions are currently under way and what’s upcoming. Once you enter a room, the speakers are on the stage at the front. You might even have the opportunity to raise your hand to ask a question.
All this is exactly how Clubhouse works. In each virtual room, there are speakers on the “stage” and thumbnails of everyone who has joined the room to listen. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, you can simply leave. You can raise your hand to be given the chance to ask a question. And you can create a closed room to have a private conversation.
The content on Clubhouse ranges from the weird to the mainstream, from the tedious to the fascinating. Elon Musk famously used the app to grill Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on traders’ rights. And there is a room entirely dedicated to whispered bedtime lullabies (really).
But the app is also host to discussions about real estate investment, property development, entrepreneurship, Instagram marketing, financial literacy and other topics dear to the heart of real estate agents.
3 ways to make it pay
Because Clubhouse gives you a global reach, it can be useful for anyone targeting a mass audience. It is less effective helping you reach smaller target audiences.
Let’s say you’re targeting a town of just a few hundred thousand people. Only a small percentage of all local homeowners or potential buyers or renters are likely to be on the app. Of those who are on Clubhouse, again, only a small share will probably discover your club or attend one of your discussions.
It only takes one lead to obtain a new listing, however, and the app can still pay off. There are at least three ways real estate agents can make the most of Clubhouse.
- No matter the limitations of the app, I recommend that all agents participate and network on Clubhouse. I’ve found that the best way to connect with someone on Clubhouse is with a thoughtful comment of appreciation for something they’ve shared.
- The next step is to start a room. This simply means to host a discussion. You can make your room open so that anyone may join. You can also make it “social” so that the other clubhouse users you follow are invited. For a smaller room, choose the option to keep it closed, so that only those people you personally invite may attend. This is a great way to understand what it takes to be a good host and whether you might like to take the next step.
- The final step for real estate agents who want to make the most of Clubhouse is to launch a club. To start a club, you must have hosted a room at least three times. Your club can be micro-targeted, such as “real estate in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.” There are already clubs for real estate investing in Baltimore, for agents in Canada, for women in real estate, for real estate in the Bay Area and many other groups.
Once you choose a topic and a name for your club, you invite others to join you. Then schedule your first discussions. Despite all its growth, Clubhouse is still a young app. If you manage to become the go-to destination for discussions about your location or specific topic, you will likely remain on top for as long as the app is in active use.
Dave Platter is the global PR director for Juwai IQI and official member of the Forbes Communications Council in Sydney, Australia. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.