Clubhouse has quietly become the busiest social app of 2021.
Ever since the invite-only audio app was endorsed by notable celebrities ranging from Oprah to Elon Musk, it has experienced rapid growth. Valued at $1 billion with 2 million active users and counting, everyone is scrambling to be a part of the club.
But the app isn’t growing alone. The hub originally created for c-suite professionals has exploded into a stage for BIPOC, specifically BIPOC women to grow their brands, businesses and rub elbows with marketing mavens.
Jasmine Gibson, founder and CEO of MIOCOA Strategies., a black woman-owned and operated digital marketing firm serving black women entrepreneurs joined Clubhouse for networking and ended up making over 15,000 friends.
“I used Clubhouse to find others who love marketing and are comfortable sharing what they’re learning and experiencing,” she said. “Clubhouse has been helpful with finding community without having to work hard for it.”
After noticing Clubhouse needed a space to discuss how black women were represented in the marketing industry, Gibson decided to form her own Clubhouse group called Black Women Marketers. A space on the app where black women who love marketing and communications uniquely discuss the part they play in the industry.
Just like the app itself, Gibson’s following has exploded.
She said, “In roughly two months, the Black Women Marketers group reached 20,000 members, and prompted me to start building a community on and off Clubhouse.”
After discovering the app indeed empowered her to speak directly with people in need of her services Funmi Ford, content creator and brand strategist jumped in fully. Within a few months, Ford increased her following on Clubhouse and on other social media platforms.
“When you go on the app to create spaces, give value, and give people help, if they feel included or feel faith, they will follow you on your other platforms and patronize your business,” she said.
After weeks of offering value on Clubhouse’s influencer spaces, Ford learned she could monetize her platform. Ford who offers consultations that grow influencer’s platforms recalled having to refund customers after her site received a surge of booking requests while she was on a Clubhouse stage.
“The conversation rate pays off when you go into the app to serve. People think if this woman can give me so much insight for free. How much more can she give if I actually pay her and have a one-on-one consultation. If you serve you will grow on and off the app, “she said.
Tinger Hseih, food, travel influencer and marketing agency owner for Dash of Media, who specializes in finding niche creators for brands, agrees with Ford.
“Clubhouse offers mutually beneficial opportunities to everyone involved. The more information I shared in rooms, the more my following grew,” Hseih said. “Because a lot of brands began to listen in on my conversations, I am now sourcing influencers for their campaigns.”
Recently, Hseih worked on a Paramount campaign for Sonic the Hedgehog, where she sourced two creators to participate in what she calls a holistic influencer marketing plan where influencers collaboratively promote one another in addition to the brand.
Hseih credits the opportunity to networking on Clubhouse. Not only does she have more access to network with brands, but brands also have the ability to connect with unique creators.
“Because I am a part of the creator community, I know who can play well with others. A lot of agencies aren’t able to do that, but I can.”
This is the very reason Lindsay Fultz, senior vice president, brand partnerships at Whalar, an award-winning influencer agency that prioritizes diversity and inclusion in talent casting, is on the app.
“It’s opened up my world professionally to a whole community of BIPOC creators that would not have been on my radar otherwise,” said Fultz.
Although Clubhouse is used by many individuals – writers, musicians, agents, tech giants, celebrities and non-celebrities, the overwhelming amount of BIPOC using the app notably increases several industry talent pools.
Clubhouse creators told CNBC the push for diverse usership was intentional and apart of the platform’s strategy.
Fultz believes that strategy has been instrumental in helping her recruit diverse content creators.
“Within the influencer space I’ve heard brands and agencies say they see the same creators in every deck. It’s the same type of vanilla content,” she said. “So, it’s wonderful to meet these creators who have been normally overlooked because of society or algorithms.”
In her latest campaign, the senior vice president sourced six out of 10 BIPOC content creators from Clubhouse.
Although Clubhouse has mostly been an empowering space for BIPOC women, the app does have some problems. The app has hosted many discussions including hate speech, conspiracy theories and the like.
Gibson has noticed these conversations on many occasions and believes the app has plenty of room for improvement.
“Clubhouse has a lot of work to do with empowering women. I’ve worked with women who battle with introversion, lack of confidence, inaccessibility and imposter syndrome all while on the app,” she said.
Gibson is hoping the app digs deeper into the customer journey of black women and their needs in order to “truly create an app experience that isn’t exhausting or that doesn’t mimic the ills of corporate America.”
Ford agrees. “Making spaces where women feel included is so important. I try to make spaces [within the app] where women, American women particularly feel included and feel their voices are heard and matter. If you don’t see those spaces, it’s up to you to create them.”
Fultz who acknowledges the apps need for improvement believes it is a wonderful place for anyone who has ever felt othered to grow.
“I think it’s a tool for empowering any and everyone who has felt unseen and unheard or alone. Rather it’s a result of society or algorithms or social anxiety or the pandemic this is their place.”
Rae Onwumelu is a correspondent for Marcom Weekly. Onwumelu's writing and reporting have appeared in The Huffington Post, Blavity and CityBeat. She previously served as a feature writer for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and content specialist for The Educational Theatre Association.