Clubhouse to Farm House: Should Ag Brands Embrace Social Audio?
Does anyone have an invite for Clubhouse?
You’ve probably seen that request at least once or twice on your social channels in the last few months. The suddenly successful, invite-only social audio platform was downloaded more than 10 million times in February of this year, creating major FOMO for many – especially anyone using an Android phone, as the app is currently only for ioS.
While it can be tempting to jump onto the bandwagon, success on social audio is dependent on setting realistic expectations. With a lack of analytics and no (official) way to record the conversations you participate in or host, Clubhouse offers a great place to experiment – and potentially connect authentically with your farm customers.
Social audio is the name for a new type of social platform, one that focuses primarily on live streamed audio conversations. In a time when we’re all tired of our own faces on video conferencing, apps like Clubhouse provide a welcome reprieve. You only have to listen, or maybe answer a question or two, if you’re “on stage” (one of the people actually speaking).
Clubhouse is the first of its kind, though several others are in beta testing or development, including offerings from Facebook and Twitter. These apps all focus on creating a new way to connect. It’s less scripted and more “real”, a prospect that for some brands may be too scary to even contemplate. But for the brave and curious, it’s proving to be an interesting way to learn more about your customers.
But Are Farmers Even On Clubhouse?
The short answer is yes. There are dedicated rooms where farmers are having conversations, though don’t expect to find thousands of farm operators on the platform. It’s still in its infancy, and it demands something that many farmers don’t have a lot of – free time.
Social audio is, for now, live streaming. You can’t pause, wait for the recording, or decide when to listen. The conversations happen in real-time, and that time isn’t always the most convenient. You can set up the app to notify you when certain conversations occur, or when people you follow have joined rooms. Then you can also listen in. This does provide an ability many brands have long dreamed of: you can be the fly on the wall, listening to farmers have conversations about anything and everything. You can even ask to speak and ask a question or two, though we recommend exercising caution. You don’t want to crash the party or ask too much of others without providing value of your own.
How Ag Brands Can Use Social Audio Right Now
Brands in every industry should view social audio, and in particular Clubhouse, as a venue for experimentation.
The most important thing you can do right now on Clulbhouse is listen. Listen to the conversations that are happening. Take notes. Follow other people in the audience who share interest in agriculture and farming. Pay attention to what is being said. Use these insights to help further inform your strategies, but be realistic about how influential these insights are. The sample size is small, made up of early adopters. They may not provide a perfect picture of your farm customer, but they may help you refine some of your customer persona features.
You can also create branded rooms, but you should pause to ask yourself why you would do that. Do you have an idea for the kinds of discussions you might host? Who will you invite to speak? What benefit will it offer to your audience? As with most social platforms, rarely are participants interested in a sales pitch, or lengthy descriptions of product features and benefits. This is your opportunity to share insights, add value, and connect to your farm customers. What can you help them accomplish today?
Clubhouse doesn’t provide a way for discussions to be recorded, which means their usefulness is time limited. If your brand does decide to host discussions, keep planning simple and don’t spend too much time preparing. You won’t necessarily see a “return on investment”.
How To Keep Social Audio Conversations On-Brand
One factor that can be particularly worrisome for brands is that social audio is live streamed. Anyone can say anything, and for some brands, that’s daunting.
You can help keep any discussions you host on-brand by being careful about who you choose to invite onto the panel. Keeping your initial panel size small will help. You can also help by providing a list of questions or topics in advance to those who will be speaking, and by using a moderator who is comfortable steering discussions back to the agreed upon topics.
But Clubhouse offers your brand the chance to invite others to speak as well, unplanned and unscripted. You might see a partner or long-time customer in the audience, and want to invite them up to speak. Don’t shy away from these opportunities, especially if they will enrich your discussions for the audience. The silver lining to the lack of recording means that small blunders are likely to disappear into the ether.
Experiment Now, Twitter Spaces Later
Perhaps the most exciting thing on the horizon for ag brands is Twitter Spaces. Twitter’s version of Clubhouse will roll out to ioS and Android users soon.
We know that farmers are on Twitter, so Spaces has the potential to be an incredible tool for ag brands, especially those with well established social followings. Spaces will allow all users to host discussions, and notify their audiences of those discussions in real time. Unlike Clubhouse where you may have difficulty finding farmers to connect with, your farm customers are already connected to you on Twitter.
There will still be challenges. Twitter is a fast-moving platform, one where messages can easily be lost in the mix. Adding Spaces to the digital noise may prove to be too much, making it hard for people to find discussions they want to join. No matter which platform you’re using, make sure to publicize your planned discussions using other distribution channels. Share on LinkedIn, send an email to your list, or post on Twitter.
We hosted our first Clubhouse chat about two weeks ago. Focused on agtech and digital technologies for ag marketing, we had a great conversation that included members of our team, Shane Thomas of Upstream Ag Insights , Derek Flad of Nutrien Ag, Patrick Walthers, co-founder of Agvisor Pro, and Damon Johnson of Global Ag Risk Solutions. It was a great conversation that explored farmer’s readiness and desire to embrace technology, ways in which agtech brands can better serve farmers, and how marketing can help bring these innovations to the forefront.