- Clubhouse is an audio-based social media platform that allows users to present and discuss specific topics based on their professional or personal interests.
- Discussions feel like intimate phone conversations.
- The platform provides a ways to have genuine interactions with potential clients and other real estate professionals.
In April 2020, amid a global pandemic that shuttered the world just a month prior, a new, audio-only social media platform quietly launched. The app, Clubhouse, had a slow and intentional rollout, inviting only a handful of people at various intervals to join.
Maybe it was the lack of social interaction due to pandemic-related isolation, or maybe it was the audio-only design. But for Lee Davenport, managing broker, trainer, and real estate business coach in Atlanta, Clubhouse felt like a breath of fresh air.
“When Clubhouse started to pick up a little steam, I said let me hop into this thing and see what it is,” she recalls. “I wanted to be a fly on the wall.”
She quickly realized that Clubhouse was different from other platforms.
“I realized that I couldn’t stay in that ‘fly on a wall’ mentality. The connections and relationships started to build immediately.”
Harrison Beacher, managing partner of the Coalition Properties Group in Washington, D.C., on the other hand, wasn’t quite sold.
“I was an early adopter,” he says, “but my attitude was kind of like, ‘Oh God, another thing.’”
It didn’t take long for him to change his mind about the platform.
“At that point, the exclusivity of (Clubhouse) made it appealing,” he says. “I realized I was in the room with people I might not have been able to reach otherwise.”
Lee and Beacher both concluded quickly that Clubhouse could be a powerful tool in the real estate business, especially at such a critical time when business models needed to change due to the ongoing pandemic.
While the platform has expanded considerably since its inception in early 2020, it’s proving its importance as a newer tool in the realms of real estate marketing, education, networking, and connection building.
The Clubhouse Setup
At first glance, opening the Clubhouse app doesn’t look like much. Other than members’ profile pictures, there are no photos to like, no statuses to comment on, and no articles to share. The only options users have are to join “clubs” and join “rooms.”
The clubs are grouped by specific affinities, ideas, and industries. For example, one large club with more than 59,000 members is called “Women in Real Estate.” The club holds rooms dedicated to any and all issues affecting women in real estate. These issues range from DEI within the industry to scaling and sustaining one’s business.
Once members join clubs, they’re alerted to the various rooms—scheduled sessions of anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours where participants present and discuss specific topics designated by the room host. Members can also create and jump into impromptu rooms with other members if they choose.
Each member has a profile, where they provide information about themselves, their businesses, and link to their various other social media accounts. This information is available to the other members through search and in rooms. When members are in rooms together, they can tap on other members’ profile photos, which pulls up the full profiles.
Clubhouse rooms can focus on virtually any topic. Lee and Beacher have both found that educational subjects related to real estate work well and attract many other members to the room. In fact, Beacher garnered the attention of the son of Donahue Peebles Jr., owner of the largest African American-run real estate development company in the world.
“I was having a frank conversation about how I missed out on my first deal because of fear and self-doubt, and afterward, Don Jr. reached out to me,” Beacher says.
This vulnerability and a nod to authenticity are some of the key factors that drew both Beacher and Lee into the platform. There was something different and refreshing about the setup and the fact that the platform felt more like an intimate phone conversation with friends rather than social media.
Building Rapport Quickly
That intimate setup coupled with the fact that people were cooped up in their homes with no real social outlets probably played a part in the near-immediate fostering of relationships early on in Clubhouse.
“Clubhouse is like the barbershop or the sports bar or the water cooler,” Lee says. “It’s where people go to have the conversations that they weren’t able to in this pandemic.” And with Omicron raging currently throughout the country, Clubhouse still feels like a safe place to have those conversations.
Notably, barbershops, sports bars, and water coolers are spaces where relationships can grow, which is why Clubhouse is such an effective tool. Lee notes the nurturing time on leads is around 12 to 18 months using the traditional marketing efforts of email, direct mail, and other social media platforms like Facebook. With Clubhouse though, she noticed that lead time was dramatically reduced.
“So many of the agents I’ve spoken with have had something close within the first four to six weeks of contact,” she says, noting that the room set up in Clubhouse makes you feel like you’re on an intimate phone call, but really you’re talking to quite a few people at once.
“You aren’t just making one cold call. It’s like you are able to do 100 cold calls in one hour, so of course, you are going to be able to close something sooner.”
Beacher found the same to be true, noting that Clubhouse afforded a “faster adoption and connection cycle than any other app I’ve ever seen.”
For Beacher, one of the most appealing benefits of Clubhouse is the opportunity to network effectively.
“This is a great place to connect with other professionals and create an honest space for people to share their stories and experiences,” he says.
Through Clubhouse, he’s been able to hold conversations about important topics within the industry, like what it means to be a person of color in the business.
Clubhouse users looking for more information on homeownership are primed and ready to move forward. Real estate professionals who are using the site are also in a networking mindset, making it easier for professionals to learn from one another, collaborate, and connect with clients.
Beacher has garnered many new relationships from his Clubhouse conversations, and he has built a powerful network that he can lean on when needed. Likewise, he says he’s able to provide support, feedback, and advice to the colleagues that he’s met through the program. And as many in the industry understand, “REALTOR®-to-REALTOR®” connections lead to referrals, he adds.
But such a benefit is contingent on genuine interaction.
“If you are thinking about your content and educating and sharing, then Clubhouse works,” he says, “but you can’t come in hot with commission breath.”
Lee says the aforementioned quick conversion is due to how the platform functions in that the user chooses what rooms and topics they want to hear about.
“This model creates a level of lead generation that we haven’t seen before,” she says. “It is comparable to what we want from cold-calling, but the difference is that there’s been a higher conversion rate because people come to the room rather than you making a call and getting hung up on.”
The Clubhouse user is likely looking for more information—and an agent or broker who has positioned themselves well on the platform is at the ready to help.
Things to Consider as Clubhouse Evolves
In the early stages of Clubhouse, things seemed pretty “magical,” Lee says, but just like all other platforms, Clubhouse continues to evolve as it grows in popularity.
Though it will likely remain a good platform for networking, Lee questions its usefulness as a platform for conversion.
“I’m kind of torn with Clubhouse now,” she says. “The pay to play model, for instance, which is a possibility, could change the authenticity and how we might use it.”
Likewise, it’s important to note that the platform did launch at the height of the lockdown period at the beginning of the pandemic, so its popularity could die down as the pandemic evolves and places continue opening back up.
Still, says Beacher, the platform is a value-add to any real estate business so long as it’s being used properly, and brokerages understand how to maximize its purpose.
“Any place where our colleagues are or where consumers potentially are, you need a presence,” he says. “You have to have some level of marketing understanding, and you need connections. You need 30-50 people in a room to make it worth your time. Come to the platform with connections or with the mindset of building connections.”
As far as getting started with the platform, Beacher has a few tips:
“Join in on other rooms, speak thoughtfully, seek to educate and be focused when you do speak, and above all else, don’t come with commission breath.”