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Game-changing epiphanies always come from the simplest ideas. Spending time on Clubhouse has given me such a revelation that has made me rethink and radically redefine the way we communicate on all social media to increase website traffic, subscriptions and sales.
For those who don’t know, Clubhouse is the internet’s latest obsession: a social media app that only allows live voice chats without any method of recording conversations. To contribute, you need to communicate and connect directly with people. Clubhouse operates a concept that we easily ignore in the online world, but impossible to ignore in the real world: authentic conversation is the key to developing your connections.
But what if you applied the concept to other social media platforms?
Being an early adopter has distinctive advantages in building an following. When people are new they are eager to find people to follow and connections are easy. After all, a social media app with no one to talk to is pretty boring. Inevitably, every platform ages and increasing the number of your subscribers becomes a challenge. The question then becomes: what can you do now and in the future to ensure growth?
Established platforms are difficult to grow organically and extremely painful for new accounts. What you need is an audience building style that scales and works across platforms. Clubhouse’s unique conversational style provides insight into how an evergreen growing frame works.
Every social media platform has contributed to the evolution of the way we communicate digitally. Facebook became famous for the “wall,” which allowed you to see all of your friends’ activities in one place. Twitter has given you the ability to send SMS over the Internet. YouTube has made it possible to publish videos on a large scale. Instagram took visual communication deeper.
In 2010, just weeks before Instagram officially launched for iOS, I was hired by a small aquarium hobby company to run their online store. My main goal was to develop online business and that meant getting more traffic. Of course, being the “young genius who knows computers”, the discovery of social media became my responsibility. But the problem was, social media was still new and largely unproven as a business growth strategy, so there were no how-to guides. Back then, I had to build on past experiences to increase website traffic. It meant focusing on writing unique content and using good visuals.
The strategy was not complicated: post lots of great photos and insightful content. In the end, we settled on a rate of 3-4 posts per week.
A year later, the results were beyond what we could have imagined: we have passed 40,000 subscribers on Facebook and one million views on YouTube. We have built the most followers in the world in our aquascaping niche and have been treated like rockstars. The company has grown from a small business to an internationally renowned brand. We have won thousands of customers, opened the door to deals with the biggest companies, and made our mark on the industry emphatically.
We didn’t think about algorithms and just focused on inspirational content and frequency of posts. Unfortunately, if you were to apply the same strategy today, it would take a lot more time and a lot more effort to achieve the same results.
What we didn’t realize at the time is that social media sites that rely on texts, photos and videos implicitly create a “speaker on stage” mentality. You speak “to a crowd” rather than having a natural conversation. Crowd-dependent content delivery means numbers matter first.
Related: I Spent Three Months At The Clubhouse & Here’s What I Learned
What exactly is “speaker on stage” communication?
When you post to Facebook, you are only talking to your audience because of how the platform is set up and how content is consumed. Engagement depends on the numbers, so you depend on the size of the audience. You are completely dependent on the algorithm that powers someone else’s feed and their whims to get your content seen. Plus, you are competing with hundreds of other people posting for the same attention. So if you are new or unfamiliar to your followers, you have a long, difficult road ahead.
Without a consistent and reliable engagement, you find yourself stuck in a cycle of algorithmic black hole darkness.
The same problem exists on all platforms. Almost all of them are speaker style on stage with the same challenges to overcome. “The speaker on stage” locks into a “my turn, your turn” style of communication due to the technological limitation of text, video and photos. This style inspires the designers’ tunnel vision to continually focus on better messages in the style of a speaker on stage rather than actual conversation.
A speaker is as good as his audience. With a commitment strictly related to publications, new accounts are stopped in their tracks. Building an audience from scratch is intimidating, time consuming, and difficult to maintain enthusiasm.
Related: How The Clubhouse Creates Unprecedented Opportunity and Access
Clubhouse presents conversation as a new model of digital communication
The voice as a medium of content is convincing. It’s familiar, it’s convenient, and it’s conversational by default. It feels more human than photos and text, and is more fluid and relaxed than video. By creating a voice-only platform, a whole new style of digital communication has emerged: the conversational style.
Real-time conversations that anyone can participate in, anytime, anywhere, are possible. Conversations are both temporary and fleeting. No recording, no waiting to listen. If you don’t speak, you can’t make a connection because no one knows who you are. Talk too much and you have a bad reputation for monopolizing the conversation. Do you only focus on selling your products? People sniff it in a second and chase you away.
Building a clientele requires actively listening to the conversations you’re in, delivering value in a respectful time frame, and knowing how to ask fantastic questions to keep the conversation going. You need to care about your audience and who you are talking to because you need to have a real conversation.
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Grow Their Personal Brand & Make Money From It
Apply the conversational style to other social media platforms
Applying this method to other platforms means that you have to start acting like a leader. Reach your subscribers via direct message, create conversations and trust. Over time, you’ll see them follow your lead and interact with all of your content, share your content, and help you build your network. The game becomes less a question of quantity and more of the quality of the relationship.
Your goal is not to “sell” someone. It is to create a bridge to start a relationship. I never think about selling, only how I can help them by sharing my ideas or expertise specific to their situation (sharing relevant content and articles is fantastic for that). We are all trained to think that we “have to” ask for the sales appointment. What I found out is that people will ask you on a date themselves when they trust you and have a relationship with you. Treat your followers like valuable connections and you will soon be the true superhero of your network.
The internet is biased towards speaker-style communication on stage. This makes it easy to forget about the simple things that work over and over again: real conversations. Be authentic. Be interested and interesting. These are all simple strategies that don’t require fancy tactics or complicated algorithm hacking.
Talk to the people on your subscriber list. Most people, especially entrepreneurs, are friendly and really want to have authentic and interesting conversations. It doesn’t matter whether the Clubhouse is here to stay or not. Our approach to digital strategy has already changed forever.