We all have that friend who knows about the “cool” thing before anyone else. Mine works for an emerging creative shop in Atlanta and he called me one day to talk about Clubhouse. He had just left an R&B room where popular producers talked with fans and fellow artists about the development of tracks and the state of the music industry.

Free of the smoke and mirrors of filters and gifs, Clubhouse is an audio-only platform that allows you to talk in real time with industry leaders, content curators, and up and coming creatives without having to deal with the pressure of “an aesthetic”. The fact that the platform was (and, to date, still is) invite-only made the platform that much more interesting.

Once I had my invite, I was curious to see if Clubhouse (or CH for short) was really all that my friend said it would be. In the first few days, I was convinced it held promise. I entered smaller rooms with a few people I knew and a few that I didn’t where we talked music, the Grammy’s, our favorite albums of all time (mine is Voodoo by D’Angelo and I will debate this with anyone).

More recently, the platform has hosted popular events like a Lion King production, a Q&A with the cast of “The Wire” and every day conversations about stocks and investing, the beauty industry and life as an influencer, and how to beat the algorithm of our favorite platforms to maximize audience engagement.

Beyond being a fun space to engage new ideas with people from across the globe, Clubhouse holds real promise for those who are trying to develop their brand, narrow ideas for a podcast, or drive engagement with their established social presence.

Keep reading to learn how you can maximize this new platform to build a brand and develop your audience online.

Focus on the substance

This audio-only application disrupts our cultural fixation on aesthetic and encourages meaningful conversation. Different from platforms like Twitter, where tone can be misconstrued, Clubhouse allows speakers to posit their opinions as well as offer points of clarification. Perspectives are not held in the black and white of text, but allowed to evolve, shift, and change in a way that most other platforms cannot facilitate.

Clubhouse is also a gem because if you enter a room in progress, you join as a listener. You have to sit and orient yourself to the conversation. You have to read the room. Many of us have seen the chaos that emerges on other platforms when users interject themselves into an existing thread or post, without fully understanding the conversation at hand. On this app, you should have something to contribute to the conversation, not for likes, but for the sake of discourse.

Follow the right people

Like other platforms, whom you follow shapes who you see in your “hallway” (the CH version of a feed). However, the rooms that appear within your hallway are presented based on your interests and if someone you follow is in the room.

This means, it benefits you to follow people based on interest as opposed to familiarity. Would you rather listen to someone from undergrad talk about their favorite TV series or would you rather listen to a producer discuss their projects, the obstacles and triumphs of their career? Perhaps both, but this is the nuance of Clubhouse. Follow wisely.

Keep in mind that people can search for individuals on Clubhouse, but you can also search for people by interest areas. Type “Black liberation” or “Adtech” into your search bar on Clubhouse and you will find a host of profiles with those keywords listed within your bio. Which brings me to my next point:

Tell the people what you’re about

Because the “search” feature will surface your profile depending on the keywords within your profile, consider including the topics you want to discuss and/or your area(s) of expertise. Since Clubhouse is audio-only, there is less of a need to curate your interests – and more of an emphasis on discussing that which resonates with you. Work in PR but interested in anime, sustainability, and public policy? Drop the keywords in your bio and watch as conversations and followers begin to appear around those topics. The versatility of your profile doesn’t detract from your brand, it adds to it.

Speaking of your bio…

This is arguably the only area on the platform that you can control so use it to your advantage. Use the first three sentences in your Clubhouse bio to answer who you are, what you do, why people should follow you, and who your target audience is.

Along the same note, include powerful keywords in those first few sentences. For example, if you want to be followed for your digital marketing, influencer, and entrepreneurship traits, include those keywords in your bio. Ultimately, you want your bio to be SEO-friendly so that you can be among the first few accounts suggested when people look for folks under specific keywords.

Add a call to action

Although links are not clickable on Clubhouse you never know who may feel inclined to manually type your website in their browser so don’t be afraid to include any URLs for you or your biz. Also, if you’re open to receiving DMs, literally state so.

Sometimes you have to be very direct with telling people what you want and how you want them to engage with you.

Talk yo sh*t

Here’s where the magic happens; you’ve joined a room about one of your interest areas, you’ve assessed the conversation at hand and you have something to contribute. Using the raise hand feature, you can alert the moderator that you’re interested in joining the stage. Once you’ve joined, it’s worthwhile to remember this is a conversation. This isn’t a speed networking room to discuss your resume exclusively, (unless it is, in which case, do your thing) rather, this is an opportunity to engage in conversation with people from around the room about the topic at hand.

Don’t let Clubhouse have all the fun

Too often, people miss out on opportunities to grow their IG and Twitter following because they haven’t linked their profiles on Clubhouse. It literally takes a couple of seconds to do it, so take time out to get it done. Whenever you can, always take advantage of opportunities to grow your brand on multiple platforms.

Host your own room

If you’re feeling froggy jump. Hosting a room on Clubhouse can seem scary, but you can do it - trust me! When you host a room, it’ll allow others to see your expertise and it can help establish you as an authority or leader in your desired space. If you’re feeling nervous about hosting a room solo, get a few others involved and host a room with a small panel of people.

*BONUS - Tips for moderators

One mic

The audience cannot hear or keep up with the conversation when people talk over one another. Keep the peace. This is a conversation. A dialogue.

Not a shouting-match.

No misinformation

This is tricky. On platforms like Twitter, users can offer their opinion and link to supporting articles in the ensuing tweets. On Clubhouse, there is no feature to offer supporting links or documents, and it’s easy for speakers to pass off ideas that are, frankly, unsupported (if not an outright, bald-faced lie).

As a moderator, it’s important to engage ideas from a space of curiosity and encourage speakers to cite their source. Think of it less as being a skeptical listener, and more so being an engaged and curious participant in the conversation.