How charities can use Clubhouse
Clubhouse is one of the latest social media platforms to launch, but with a very different format from its competitors. Some charities have started to see the benefits of joining, writes Kirsty Marrins.
Clubhouse is a relatively new, audio-only social media platform which was launched in April 2020. It is essentially a social media platform where people can have live conversations grouped around topics. It’s been described as a mix of panel discussions, live podcasts and networking opportunities.
How does Clubhouse work?
When it launched, people could only join Clubhouse if they had been invited by an existing user – as it was still in beta. It came out of beta in July 2021 and is now available to everyone on both Android and iOS.
It’s really quick to sign up. Once you’ve joined, you are able to see who in your phone contacts list is on Clubhouse so you can follow them if you wish to. You’ll also be asked which topics you’re interested in, but I’d advise not picking too many as what happens is you’ll see lots of Rooms in those genres, but many won’t actually be of interest.
When you open the App, you’ll see what’s called ‘the Hallway’ and then different ‘Rooms’ that are taking place right then, based on who you follow and which interests you chose. You’ll be able to see the topic and how many people are in the Room. You can also use the search function to look for Rooms, people or Clubs on certain topics.
When you enter a Room, you will be on mute but will be able to hear the speakers who are on the ‘Stage’. There is the ability to raise your hand if you want to ask a question or contribute to the discussion but it’s up to the speaker whether they invite you up to the Stage. If they do, you will then be unmuted and able to speak. Once you’ve asked your question, or contributed, you can move back to the audience if you wish to.
The way the Room is organised is:
- The Stage – this is where the hosts and invited speakers are
- People followed by the speakers – if you’re followed by one or more of the speakers, you are closer to the stage (you’re still muted though)
- Others in the Room – this is anyone else who isn’t followed by one of more of the speakers
When in the Room, you can click on anyone’s profile picture, read more about them and follow them if you wish. If you’re finding a Room interesting, you can ‘ping’ in any of your followers who you think may enjoy the discussion. They will then be notified that you’ve invited them to join the Room.
The more people you follow, the more Rooms you’ll see in your Hallway when you open the App as you’ll see Rooms that people you follow are currently in.
Decided that you’re not really interested in the discussion taking place? You can leave the room by clicking on the ‘leave quietly’ button.
Can charities be branded on Clubhouse?
When it was in beta, only individuals could be on the App and not brands. So a workaround was that once you had hosted a Room three times, you could apply for a Club. And that’s where the branding could come in.
Now you can join as a brand, so your charity can not only have a presence on Clubhouse but can host Rooms and events too. The IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) is one charity that has a branded account on the App.
Opportunities for charities
I think Clubhouse offers individuals in charities the opportunity to network and to create Rooms based on topics around their expertise. For example there is the Social for Good Club which meets on Fridays at 5pm.
Not specifically charity related, but every weekday morning at 8am there is a Breakfast with brand, marketing and comms specialists, that is really interesting and often has great guests who have worked on brilliant campaigns.
I see Clubhouse as an opportunity to learn and to share expertise. And I think this is something charities have an abundance of in their areas of specialism and where a Q&A format would work really well. For example, take Cancer Research UK and all the staff and researchers involved in their work. There are so many discussions (or Rooms based around certain topics) they could have – from the latest research into breast cancer to how to support a friend who is going through chemotherapy.
Clubhouse recently announced a monetization feature (in beta) where people can send payments to creators. This is where I think it could get interesting for charities as you could host an exclusive and intimate ‘In conversation with’ Room with one of your celebrity patrons or frontline staff, for example, and ask people to pay a donation to be part of the conversation.
Top tips to get started
- Create an individual account and join some Rooms to get a feel for the platform and the different types of Rooms (panel discussion format, in conversation with, Q&A etc)
- Spend some time looking for people or Clubs who are similar to what you’re looking to use Clubhouse for, in a brand or professional capacity, and then see what works and what doesn’t
- Host a Room once you feel you’ve got a good idea of how Clubhouse works. You can even do a practice one with colleagues or peers as there is the option to create a closed Room.
- Create a charity account once you’ve got a strategic plan in place for how you’ll use Clubhouse for your charity.
One of the most interesting things about Clubhouse, for now at least, is their openness with their community. Every Sunday there is a Town Hall meeting with the founders where you can submit a question beforehand and they’ll answer it. They’ll also update you on new features and what they’re working on.
At the moment, a major problem with Clubhouse is its lack of accessibility to those who are deaf or have hearing impairments. There is no live captioning and it doesn’t even support Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader. From a visually impaired perspective, it doesn’t support text-resizing. So, in terms of accessibility, Clubhouse has a long way to go.
For more information on Clubhouse and how charities could use it, read Helen Olszowska’s article on Charity Digital.
Kirsty Marrins is a Digital Communications Consultant and Charity Comms Trustee. You can follow Kirsty on Twitter @LondonKirsty.
A version of this blog first appeared on the Charity Comms website.