3 Emerging Social Media Platforms B2B PR Pros Should Know

Remember when the only social media platforms considered significant by PR pros were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? For many, they continue to be the trinity of social media. But by the end of this year, an estimated 3 billion people will be using social media, and not just on those three sites. What’s more, new platforms are popping up regularly.

New platforms can work for B2B PR 

That means there’s greater potential for B2B brands to reach an engaged audience of business users. The opportunity to reach specific audiences goes beyond the social sites that currently dominate. For example, TikTok has taken the world by storm and no one wants to miss newer sites that could gain similar prominence. Here are three emerging platforms that PR pros should track. They can work particularly well for B2B visibility programs.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse was launched in 2020 and breaks the mold of traditional social media platforms. It’s audio-only and connects the audience and speakers by letting them share information in real time. What kind of conversations take place on Clubhouse? A little bit of everything! Topics range from relationship discussions to starting a business.

Another thing that sets Clubhouse apart is its exclusivity. It’s invite-only – at least until its official release. Users act as gatekeepers for the platform’s daily ongoing conversations by holding three invitations that will allow new users to join. Those who don’t have invitations will have to join the waitlist until the official release. Having said that, it’s fairly easy to score an invitation.

Since its launch Clubhouse has become a hub for tech types, artists, and entertainers. Can B2B senior executives also find their niche here? Yes. For B2B clients Clubhouse can be another social media tool used to drive thought leadership, especially those who are subject-matter experts. Savvy business leaders are well suited to host rooms and later start their own clubs. The platform offers PR teams a new way of storytelling for organizations and gives business personalities who are talented speakers with a strong point of view about industry trends an opportunity to ride the social audio wave.

Twitter Spaces

In a bid to get in on the social audio experience, Twitter released Twitter Spaces in December 2020. It’s still in its early stage, but there are new features and updates in the works. One driving force behind the creation of Twitter Spaces seems to be the challenges Clubhouse faces regarding its community standards. Unfortunately, Clubhouse’s conversations on sensitive topics such as identity, ethnicity, gender, and racism have led to abusive behavior by some users. Twitter Spaces is seeking to offer a more inclusive environment.

So how does Twitter Spaces work? Those who want to host a conversation must have a Twitter account. They can create either impromptu Spaces or schedule them up to 14 days in advance, all within the Twitter app. Up to 10 people can be invited to speak in a created Space at any given time. Spaces are public, so anyone can join as a listener, including people who don’t follow you. To issue invitations, hosts can simply post a link by tweeting it, sending it through Twitter’s direct-messaging, or posting it elsewhere. 

Like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces is an emerging platform that can work well for thought leadership. It features live discussions, training sessions, and Q&As, among other things. The hosting capacity for Twitter Spaces is still limited, but in May Twitter announced that accounts with 600 or more followers are now able to host a Space. According to Twitter Spaces, these accounts are likely to have a good experience hosting because of their existing following. Audience quality is another thing to consider on top of having a charismatic speaker host. Though Twitter Spaces is still in a fledgling stage, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on for PR plans as it picks up steam.

Instagram Reels 

There’s no denying TikTok’s influence on the launch of Instagram Reels. This new feature is actually in competition with TikTok as it offers similar video creation capabilities.  

Instagram Reels can be used to promote brand awareness and even recruitment. The feature offers a fun, creative way to display your brand’s product releases, how-to’s, and even its workplace culture. There’s no need for a production team – all you need is a smartphone. You can also reach out to an industry influencer to create reels in your interest.

Finding which new social channel to onboard 

Being one of the first to join an up-and-coming social channel and learning the lay of the land can place you ahead of competitors who lag behind. However, time spent experimenting with new platforms must be balanced with refining strategies on already established ones. 

Determining which new platforms are worth the time and effort of watching and experimenting might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! We recommend keeping the following in mind when navigating new channels:

-Track growth. Big numbers signal that the platform is gaining momentum and that the chances for engagement with a broad swath of users are high.

-If a platform doesn’t offer specific metrics (like Clubhouse), but it has buzz, it’s probably worth a trial.

-Pick platforms that your audience can easily use and enjoy.

-While you should pay attention to the level of adaptability, you should consider how your audience wants to consume media. If you’re looking to target business decision-makers they’re more likely to sit in on a discussion of industry trends on a platform like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces.

-If you can’t come up with any interesting ways to tell your brand’s story on a niche platform, you might want to hold off on making an account. A boring or dormant account can signal that the brand isn’t ready to engage.

PR, Clubhouse, And The Coming Social Audio Wave

People in PR and media circles have been excited about Clubhouse for at least six months. That’s partly because it represents something new – an audio-only platform for real-time conversations within groups of up to 500 people. But the real appeal was Clubhouse’s exclusivity. As the name implies, it launched as an invite-only social media app and quickly became known as a hangout for venture capitalists, tech entrepreneurs and other Silicon Valley elite. The tech types were followed by artists and entertainers, including Drake, Tiffany Haddish, and Joe Budden. There was a healthy amount of  FOMO among influencers as well as marketing and PR folks. And the content is ephemeral; you have to listen in the moment, because the chat will not be repeated. Just like real life.

Clubhouse’s “drop-in” feel is also a big part of the allure; it lets you listen, participate, or just leave quietly if a particular conversation isn’t for you at a given moment. The real-time aspect offers an element of spontaneity over other audio platforms like podcasting. It’s a bit like a conference where you can choose to attend lectures from among multiple tracks, but the commitment threshold is very low.

Its pedigree, too, generated buzz. The series A funding was led by Andreessen Horowitz partner Andrew Chen, and in January Clubhouse closed a Series B round of $100 million for a valuation of $1 billion. Pretty impressive for an app that started only a year ago in March of 2020.

As Colleen O’Connor from our team puts it, “It seems like Clubhouse gained massive popularity just when everyone has major Zoom fatigue and the last thing they want to do is log onto another video meeting. But hitting ‘join conversation’ and listening while multitasking is more desirable for a busy person.” 

Clubhouse can drive PR thought leadership potential for PR

For PR agencies and their clients, Clubhouse is a new platform for promoting what we call thought leadership — a positioning as a source of leading-edge information and expertise. For B2B tech clients in particular, thought leadership drives the right kind of visibility and is a part of many successful PR campaigns.

We started watching Clubhouse late last year and studied it for a while, in listening mode, before involving clients. So far, it’s limited to opportunities for visibility that involve senior executives who have expertise to share – in the case of our clients, about securing funding, leadership, work culture, the future of workplace, and other relevant topics. The corporate presence is there, but through company executives and founders, not logos.

No metrics, no worries

As for metrics, there really aren’t any. It’s kind of like the out-of-town tryout before you get to Broadway; it’s okay if not too many are listening, since it’s still new and we need to work out the bugs. But we’re bullish on Clubhouse for clients who are subject-matter experts and therefore well suited to host rooms and later start their own clubs. Last week, a senior client executive moderated a Clubhouse discussion that exceeded all expectations. The topic was CTV, and the meeting was well attended, with 100+ listeners and even a few media dropping in. But the most important metric for us was how long the conversation ran. It started at 8:00 and went for two and a half hours, with quality discussion throughout.

Clubhouse growth spawns imitators

The Clubhouse hype has continued into the spring, but lately the buzz isn’t all positive. First, there was a natural backlash to its exclusive status and the celebrity buzz. Clubhouse has been compared unfavorably to Discord, the group-chat app originally built for gamers. Most concerning for Clubhouse, though, is that its growth has slowed. (It’s only available on iOS for now. Android is in the works, but it had better hurry.)

As investor Shaan Puri points out in a thoughtful Twitter thread, live content can be compelling, but only if it’s truly interesting. It has to capture those “magical moments” like Elon Musk interviewing the Robinhood guy. Yet it’s tough to find top-notch stuff right in the moment. There just isn’t that much of it. As Puri puts it, “multiplying ‘content is interesting’ and ‘content is live’ doesn’t just make the problem 2x harder..it makes it 200x harder.”

But maybe that’s not even Clubhouse’s biggest problem. There’s also the competition. New players are jumping into social audio, attracted by its success. Last week Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield made news by saying that Slack will be adding audio features to its business message app – and he announced it on in a Clubhouse room, naturally!

This week Spotify said it has acquired live sports audio app Locker Room. Not to be outdone, LinkedIn just confirmed it’s testing a “social audio experience” for its own app. And of course, Facebook is reportedly working on a Clubhouse killer of its own, which TechCrunch likens to “an extension of its Messenger Rooms” rather than a standalone app. It seems that rather than compete one-on-one, Facebook intends to integrate audio into many of its products. Social audio is officially the next big thing. Where that leaves Clubhouse is anyone’s guess.

I hope Clubhouse succeeds. It’s encouraging to see momentum for a new platform for PR teams to tell stories for organizations, even if – or especially if – it isn’t about brands. The Clubhouse experience plays naturally play to the strengths of business leaders and personalities who are talented speakers with a strong point of view about industry trends, but with an extra spark of spontaneity in the bargain. But the most important thing about Clubhouse is that it started something, and the social audio wave is only just beginning. It’s like podcasting and live conferences had a baby. For PR teams as well as business leaders and creators, that means an entire new social channel and lots of fresh opportunity.