In the past few decades, banks have routinely poo-pooed social media. And did social media turn out to be a trend? A passing fad? Nope.
Banks are just now coming on board after the realization that traditional media (and traditional ways of thinking) are making their marketing efforts fall like a lead balloon. And by the time scrambles to understand key social media platforms, their playing catching up to a culture they opted out of for too long, which only makes it more difficult to adapt and “speak the language” that will catch attention and capture leads.
It’s important to understand this costly mistake the banking industry has fallen into because, once again, a new opportunity has presented itself online and banks can make the decision to get on board early, or once again be late to the conversation and not know what everyone is talking about.
A new subset of social media is now on the scene: audio-only social networking.
Currently, the most popular one is Clubhouse, but don’t mistake this as a one-hit-wonder. Other social networking giants are already developing their rival products. So no matter if Clubhouse proves to be the winner or if the market adapts to the 500lb gorillas that are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al - it's important you have an understanding of audio networking now, which will help you better connect with and build more business within your target market.
Clubhouse, which was launched in April 2020, quickly rocked the boat in terms of popularity. In its first year, the number of users grew to a staggering 6 million, blowing Snapchat, Twitter, and even Facebook’s first-year numbers out of the water. Instagram was the most recent social platform with this level of growth, but considering Clubhouse is in an "extended-beta" (just recently rolling out an Android version of their app and by “invite-only” as of the publication of this article), it’s safe to assume that Clubhouse is the real victor here.
What IS Clubhouse?
In short, it’s an audio-only app for people to join “rooms” and have group conversations. Some rooms discuss social issues. Other rooms discuss business. And other rooms are simple friends getting together to chat about whatever.
Like every other social media app, it can be what you make it.
What accounts for this explosion in popularity?
Part of it could be timing. The app was launched just as COVID-19 was forcing everyone indoors due to social distancing guidelines and a widespread cancellation of social events. It was a fantastic opportunity for people to keep in touch. In short, it made us feel more human because we could still experience one another socially. Plus, the fact that it's audio-only (and you don't need to be live on video) to interact makes it an attractive option for people who want to have real-time conversations, but not have to fire up the webcam and be seen.
Is it too late to join?
Absolutely not! Clubhouse intends to change their “invitation-only” policy soon - saying that they plan to open to the public in a few months. Now that both iOS and Android users and participate, you've got no excuse to give it a try.
And just to reiterate, if you learn Clubhouse now, you’ll be ahead of the game when audio-only functionality rolls out across all other social media platforms! Yes, Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn have audio-only option in the works...
The Future of Audio-Only Social Media
Many major social media platforms have been getting to work on their own versions of this social platform. Prior to that, it was rumored Twitter and Clubhouse held talks for several months about a $4 billion acquisition. Those talks are no longer taking place, according to a Bloomberg report. That may be due in part to a change in strategy. Twitter has created “Twitter Spaces”, which recently opened up to Android users and should be open to the public soon.
Twitter Spaces is expected to be Clubhouse’s biggest rival, at least in the short term. Several users have left glowing comments and reviews, some of them even going so far as to offer their reasons on why Spaces is superior to Clubhouse. It’s been referred to as a “game-changer” by some and that’s likely due in part to the fact that Twitter users’ social networks are already there. There are other advantages, one of them being that Twitter users are more diverse than those who use Clubhouse, but that might be the topic for a different post.
LinkedIn has also confirmed it’s testing a social audio experience in its app, and Facebook is reportedly building one as well. There’s also Spotify, Mark Cuban’s own version (Fireside), and Slack, Telegram, and Discord to name a few. It could be worthwhile to dig a bit deeper into each of these apps to see which are best for you in terms of features and the quality and quantity of users you’d like to reach.
Audio-Only Social Media for Banking
Social media has always been a fantastic way for banks to connect to clients by meeting them where they already are. It allows bankers to create emotional connections with customers, establishing trust by sharing information that is of value to clients. It is also a smart way to build leads since over half of affluent consumers look for financial solutions on social media. Here are a few ways audio functionality can add even more value to bankers.
Interactive (and live) functionality on social platforms can be appealing but are also quite intimidating to those who would rather not put their face in front of a screen - given that it’s been mostly live video up until the arrival of Clubhouse to the scene. “What will people think if they see me on camera?” is not an altogether foolish concern, considering that viral videos (such as the BBC interview with Robert Kelly that blew up in 2017) have been passed around like pre-pandemic Halloween candy. As much as we may enjoy viral videos, for the most part, we don’t want to become one.
Audio-only splits the difference between video networking while being a step more personable than text- or picture-dominant platforms.
Share (and gain) expertise
Your customers have questions and Clubhouse can be how YOUR bank helps them find answers. Marketing is all about having your voice lead the conversation. And with audio-only social apps, you can do exactly that.
Plus, your customers don’t have to be the ones getting all the educational and networking benefits from Clubhouse. You TOO can find rooms that help you grow your knowledge and expertise!
If you’re not sure where to start, I’m actually working on an article to help provide guidance on ways that bankers can get started on Clubhouse (and future audio-only platforms). Keep checking our Blog for updates so you don’t miss it when it gets published!
In Clubhouse, brands have begun sponsoring rooms, a process that is easy to do (for now) and inexpensive (for now). This feature is a simple way to bolster the brand image and interact with targeted audiences. The ability to do this is a huge advantage for businesses and one that innovative and forward-thinking bankers absolutely can capitalize on.
Once again, social media is presenting you with an opportunity to expand your network beyond offline connections. Remember, LinkedIn is also creating its own audio experience, so getting “your feet wet” on Clubhouse might be a nice way for you to ease into this new type of real-time, audio-only experience.
Unlike Clubhouse (which has already experienced a few hiccups in terms of inappropriate conversations), LinkedIn will be committed to ensuring that the new audio experience is a trusted community where members can have respectful, constructive conversations given its pre-existing business networking focus. To do this, they plan to utilize their already-established moderation tools that were built for other features.
Don’t Sleep on This
Cutting-edge bankers would be remiss not to research and familiarize themselves with these interesting new social media developments. The bread and butter of banking are all about relationships and preparing people for the future. It’s clear there’s a future for audio cast options that will benefit innovative bankers. In fact, if you’d like to join our LinkedBanker Club on Clubhouse, we’d love to have you join us for an upcoming conversation.
If you consider yourself to be an innovative bank and would like to network and learn with other innovative bankers, then The LinkedBanker community is precisely for you. Be sure to check out the many ways we educate and support community bankers to build strategies for connecting and building relationships with their target market online.
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