As someone who blogs here every week I aim to provide valuable content, insights and tips that inspire and motivate you to secure greater success and to waste less time on shiny distractions.  That’s why you won’t hear me advocating the new social media (audio) service ‘Clubhouse’.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will do soon. And you will be inundated with messages inviting you to join Clubhouse.  I get them almost daily and the facility is still in beta testing and is currently only available to iphone users.

This blog post contains all you need to know about why you do NOT need to waste time on this new audio-based social media app.  The company describes itself as a new type of social product based on voice that allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.  Once you’re there you can eavesdrop on, or join in with, conversations that are already happening, or start one of your own.

It’s a bit like dropping into the live recording of a podcast, where you can actually raise your hand and ask a question or contribute to the conversation.

The commentators, marketing and social media advisers who are talking about Clubhouse for accountants – seem to be doing so just for the sake of it. And they also quickly reach one of two obvious conclusions:

Either:

1 – It would be a waste of your time and a needless distraction as it won’t help you reach prospective clients or drive new business

or

2 – It’s fun and *could* be useful so why not pay them to tell you how it works and how you could use it to get what you want.

I have a had a quick look and have also seen loads of posts from people trying to talk it up.

I  am reminded of my reaction to Google+. In October 2011 on this blog I set out 5 reasons why I didn’t talk about Google’s social media platform when helping accountants to understand how to use social media and Linkedin.  Google+ (sometimes known as Google Plus) had been launched just a few months earlier in June 2011 in an attempt to challenge other social networks.

Google+ never really took off and its imminent closure was announced in 2018.  If you didn’t use it or even know about it, you didn’t miss much.

I wrote my blog post in October 2011 because I had noted how many social media advocates, marketing and social media gurus had leapt onto the Google+ bandwagon. I saw how they had been seduced by what was then a shiny new distraction – and this was partly because of it’s pedigree. It was a new Google platform. Surely it would be around for the long term and the sooner you start using it the better? I disagreed,

Below I have updated for Clubhouse the five reasons I gave for dismissing Google+ in 2011:

1 – It is too new: I do not think that my audiences need to be at the forefront of the newest social media fads. IF Clubhouse becomes an established alternative to LinkedIn for professional business audiences THEN I will discuss it in detail during my talks and articles.

Until and unless  YOUR target audiences  (clients, prospects and referrers) are engaged on clubhouse there is no business related reason for you or me to spend time on this new platform.

2 – Walk don’t run: Back in 2011 very few in my audiences were already engaged to any material extent with social media. Some had registered profiles on Linkedin but weren’t USING it effectively. Anyone who is going to dip their toes into social media is best off starting to experiment with more established tools. Some may try facebook or twitter. The choice should be determined, as I’ve already noted, by considering where your target audience is and engaging with them there.

3 – Horses for courses: To date, the only people I have encountered who are USING Clubhouse are those with a non-business interest or those who are promoting social media, coaching and/or marketing – in a generic way. These people are not my audience and few of my audience want to do more than to use social media for marketing their own business. I know this isn’t the right motivation but I accept it is the reason for their interest. I always explain that Social Media is NOT a new broadcast medium. It’s the same for Clubhouse. In any event, the more established social media sites are where my audience should start experimenting, not the newest latest fad.

4 – Damn statistics – In 2011 I noted that it was irrelevant that over 40 million people had registered for Google+ in just a few months. A more relevant number would have been how many people were really USING Google+.  And the available stats told us that only a small proportion of that 40m were using Google+ to any real extent. Many were like me. I registered and had a look when it was launched in July 2011. I went back once or twice and then stopped bothering.  In any event, what really matters is whether your target audience is engaged on Clubhouse and if you can reach them there.

5 – It’s not for me – The bottom line is that I think it’s unlikely I’ll be using Clubhouse for business anytime soon. The only people I know using clubhouse are people I am already connected with on other social media platforms. Why do I (or they) need to be connecting and interacting on a new platform as well?  Is there a good enough reason to migrate across to a new platform, to learn new techniques and build new habits? I think not.

I don’t have enough time to listen to the podcasts to which I have subscribed. And I prioritise these over radio phone-ins and discussion shows. Clubhouse offers a bit of both. To that extent, unlike Google+ it does have features not available on other social media platforms.  But I still suggest you do not want to be a pioneer – other than potentially for NON-business reasons. (Much like Twitter frankly!)

What is it for?

When I wrote about Google+ I noted that it was unclear what it was FOR. By comparison, and I appreciated this was simplistic: Facebook is for friends and fun; Twitter is for fast news and insights; and Linkedin is for online business networking and recruitment. (Little has changed in this regard). I said that until there is a similar simple way to express what Google+ is for and thus a compelling reason to use Google+ I would not be advocating it to my audiences and I was comfortable that they wouldn’t be missing out.

I was right.

Nine years later, Clubhouse is the new shiny distraction. Plenty of people are enjoying being early adopters and are having fun with it – especially during lockdown.  What is it for (from a business context)?  Time will tell.

Mark’s 5 Ms model

Whenever an accountant asks me about social media I always revert to my 5 Ms’s model.  This applies equally when anyone asks me about Clubhouse.

MotiveWhat do you want to achieve? More good clients? To build your profile?
MarketWho are you targeting?  Anyone and everyone or a more discrete group?
MessageWhat message do you need to get to your target market to achieve your objective?
Only when you have more specific replies to those 3 questions can we move on to consider the other 2 Ms

Media – Which Media and platforms to use is a decision best made only after you are clear about the Message you want to get through to your target Market.

Method – And it is only after you know which Media you will use that you need to consider which tactics to adopt and how best to use that Media to get your Message to your target Market.

Although Clubhouse is quite distinct from other social media platforms and apps, I would suggest you treat it in much the same way as you treat the following from a business perspective: Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Tinder and Grindr.   They all have their place but their value to most accountants as a route to securing a higher profile and valuable new clients is limited!

Of course if your motive is to boost your profile to a random audience all around the world and you have the time to build and engage that audience, please go ahead. Chance are though that Clubhouse will not be the most effective way of spending time to secure even that objective.

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