In a “pre-COVID” world, real-life conversations were perhaps one of the best aspects of life that were taken for granted. With people remaining indoors and “in-person” activities put to a halt. Online services such as gaming, video streaming, and podcasting began to gain popularity. While podcasting began to rise among various celebrities, influencers, and athletes. Many others were looking for different ways to interact with their favorite public figures. Two tech veterans, Rohan Seth and Paul Davidson created the app Clubhouse as a platform in which one could utilize it like a traditional podcast but with the option to allow their audience to speak to them in real-time. The app is now known as an app where conversations about literally anything can come to life and be discussed with like-minded individuals in real-time. With that being known, this leads me to question what this app could mean for athletes trying to build a community around their personal brand and the other possibilities that this app can offer.
Clubhouse launched back in April 2020 during the start of the pandemic. Lately, it has been taking strides to become the next big social media app. As of right now the app is only available to iPhone users but has still amassed a total of 10 million app downloads as of February 2021. What makes the app so popular is its interesting “invite-only” approach. To join the app, an existing user must invite you to join. This sense of “exclusivity” has created this frenzy for people all over the world that are just aching to get a chance to receive an invite to join the app.
A social media app doesn’t just gain traction without having the attention of a couple of celebrities and influencers. Initially, the app was a place for many of Silicon Valley’s techies to discuss business openly and then a community of cryptocurrency traders made their transition to the app. Yet, Clubhouse gained a big fan in Elon Musk who was interviewed on the app back in January 2021. Elon’s massive fan audience from Twitter flocked to the app to hear what the tech mogul had to say. However, this just opened the door for other influencers and big-name media personnel to join the fun. Among the celebrities to be a part of the Clubhouse user base include superstar rapper and Hip-Hop icon Drake, Off-white CEO Virgil Abloh, and even comedian/actor Kevin Hart has made an appearance on the app. The app is growing at a massive rate and is rising in popularity.
I can name drop and talk about all of the celebrities currently on Clubhouse, but the numbers speak for themself. The app is currently valued at $1 Billion as of December 2020 and has a total of 6 million users. According to the CEO of Clubhouse, it has an average of around 2 million users per week. Two million people a week constantly engaging in conversation is a number that is almost unimaginable to me considering the quick growth of the app. The app is still very much in its “growing” phase as over 180 investors have invested in the audio-chat app.
With many celebrities and influencers beginning to find their place on the app, they also allow their fans on other apps to try and join in on the fun in Clubhouse. Now, it’s not just a giant lunchroom of popular people on the app. Athletes such as Javale Mcgee, Isaac Rochell, and Jaylon Smith are some of the first famous athletes to be part of the conversation on Clubhouse. As more and more athletes begin to join, I see this as an opportunity for them to connect with their fans from a more personal standpoint. It would be more than possible to finally get an opportunity to ask a question to one’s favorite athlete without having to win some sort of contest or be in the media room of an arena. This app is an open door for athletes to finally reach out to their fanbase and to get to know them on a more personal level.
When discussing the possibilities of athletes and Clubhouse, I see a world of opportunities that have yet to be discovered. Athletes would be able to access a new platform in which they could build and strengthen their fan bases and turn them into an actual community. Of course, I understand that many athletes already use other methods of reaching out to their fans through video/public chatting. Those examples would be moments on Instagram Live or Twitch streaming. However, what Clubhouse offers these athletes that the other platforms do not is this sense of connection. It feels more “human” to have a conversation in a room with another person knowing that they are literally on the other end of the phone waiting to respond. In a world where everything is based around relationships and connections, the Clubhouse app offers an avenue for athletes to get to know their supporters in a more individualized sense rather than just “fans”. This would create a stronger community between that athlete and their supporters, but also create a stronger communal bond within the fan base. The fans would be ecstatic that they could have an open conversation with other like-minded individuals that have a common interest in this one specific athlete. They could create themed nights around specific topics of conversation, do a rapid-fire Q&A with their closest fans, and even create a private music streaming party where their fans can listen to their pregame playlist with their favorite athlete. This sense of community is what will drive fans to follow their favorite athlete to the app.
The Clubhouse app is something we’ve never seen before. Its “invite-only” approach is like the bouncer at the club, but the real fun starts when you finally get to join in. With over 6 million active users and a plethora of A-list celebrity talent finding themselves on the app, Clubhouse is positioned to be the next big social media app. With more and more people joining every day it will not be a surprise when we see athletes such as Lebron James, Tom Brady, and Connor McGregor join in on the fun. Athletes will be able to utilize this platform to their advantage and create a stronger community fan base. Opportunities to connect with their fans and supporters on a more particular level will only help drive the attention and worth of the athlete. The possibilities for athletes on Clubhouse are endless, they just need to get an invite first.