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Clubhouse: popular kids’ hangout or a true asset for brands’ community building?

April 10, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Find out how Clubhouse differentiates itself within the sea of social media apps
  • Clubhouse has turned its voice-only design from a potential constraint into its key strength
  • Users are able to multi-task while staying on the platform as background chatter (like in a coffee shop!)
  • Because the app is so new and fresh it took some time, but many brands are now using Clubhouse
  • Wherever there are influencers, advertisers aren’t far behind
  • Just this week Clubhouse announced a new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse”
  • Now might be a good time to consider building an online community to add value and deepen the connection with your audience, here’s how

Clubhouse is the latest entrant into the ring of popular social media apps. The pandemic fast-tracked broader usage and many A-list celebrities have adopted the platform pivoting it into a more mainstream space and conversation. Clubhouse is an audio-only network that has become a disruptor to more mainstream social media channels and has provided a breath of fresh air and a much-needed distraction for those of us suffering from video and zoom fatigue.

It’s a welcome change for many of us as the app is built on a voice-led, live, concept and hosts conversations around very impromptu and diverse topics. The topics vary and the app is still limited however as more people continue to get invited a broader array of lifestyle and societal conversations will continue to blend into the feeds.

Clubhouse exclusivity: pro or con?

The MAJOR problem with the app is that the allure still is around its exclusivity.  You can’t join unless you’re invited (and using an iPhone) and for many who have heard of Clubhouse but haven’t joined or been invited it’s a big problem for major expansion.

The “voice only” advantage

One notable differentiator for Clubhouse is that it’s managed to turn its voice-only design from a potential constraint into its key strength. Users are able to use the app as passive background chatter while doing other work and listening in which is a breath of fresh air for many multi-tasking marketers such as me.

Real-time conversations: the heart of what makes Clubhouse tick

The reason Clubhouse is different and exciting is because it’s synchronous. It’s happening live and never again. If you’re not there, you will miss the conversation forever. Traditional social media channels are asynchronous.  You can access and revisit content and review or engage at any time that works for you and catch up at your own pace.  Rooms can be recorded if permission is granted, but that is seemingly rare as the value is in the authenticity of real-time communication and conversation.

As an excited and relatively new Clubhouse user, I’m trying to figure out the value of the platform for my clients as well as myself.  This got me thinking about how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to add value.  Clubhouse is a platform centered firmly on creators, not brands, at least for now. A creator can certainly be a brand leader working to expand thought leadership and build community or interest for a brand but within the Club the conversation is around authenticity and the person and NOT the bigger brand.

How brands can use Clubhouse to add to build an online community that adds value

I asked several of my friends and industry colleagues for their opinions on the platform and I found their answers to be useful and inspiring and noteworthy. Below are several responses relevant to the conversation of how brands can use Clubhouse to add to build an online community to add value.

  • Amberly Hilinski, Director of marketing at SodaStream International said “Clubhouse is weighing the reward of facilitating and respecting relevant content you don’t own.  Long lead earned media for brand owners who have the privilege (or budget) to think in terms of years and not quarters.   As the inevitable stampede of influencer dollars roll in, I worry how the conversations shift and how many truly “tune-in” worthy guests are booked.”
  • Margaret Molloy, CMO of Siegel + Gale said, “Time is the primary challenge for many thought leaders, a major consideration is whether we want to dedicate the effort to build a following on another platform. This is especially true for B2B leaders with an active social graph on LinkedIn and/or Twitter already. Clubhouse is centered firmly on creators, not brands, at least for now. A creator could be a brand employee hosting a community as a thought leader/community builder, however, it’s about the person, not the corporate brand.”
  • Ashley Stevens, Brand, Content & Experiential Marketing Expert said, “Brands can use Clubhouse as an extension of another online community or event. It’s a great place to “continue the conversation” and develop more personal relationships with current and potential clients.
  • Rob Durant, Founder of Flywheel Results said, “Brands cannot use Clubhouse the way they have used other platforms. There’s no automating it, There’s no outsourcing it, There’s no editing it, There’s no photoshopping it. People only get to know you when you show up and are fully present. That being said, Brands, even B2B Brands, CAN use Clubhouse. They just need to facilitate conversations instead of dominating them.”
  • Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “Clubhouse is an opportunity for brands to rethink how they engage with their audiences. Most brand social channels are broadcast channels, very few have conversations with their audiences, because of resource constraints, lack of know-how, compliance reasons, and other concerns. Platforms like Clubhouse and the audio tools that Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms are working on will challenge corporates to review & redesign how they social up on social media.

It’s taken some time, but brands are now joining the Clubhouse conversations. Many of my colleagues remained dubious of the long-standing return and the overall future of the platform and insisted that brands should concentrate efforts in places providing maximum return. Clubhouse lacks analytics and tangible metrics to measure the investment of time and energy for brands.

Closing thoughts

I remain interested and active on the platform for now I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz. Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas on the audience tuning in and having conversations.  Brands who listen to ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Wherever there are influencers, the advertisers aren’t far behind. As it stands today, Clubhouse still is limited with around two million active weekly users on the app. It offers what every advertiser wants – a highly targeted, used in one contained place, but the question remains of how and when to get advertisers involved.

Just this week within Clubhouse’s blog post, the startup announced a new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse.”

This is the first step towards monetizing Clubhouse and the first of what many assume will come towards steps to monetize the platform.

As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will quickly have to adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time!

Marissa Pick is a social & digital strategist and Senior Marketing Director at Marissa Pick Consulting LLC. Marissa can be found on Twitter @marissapick.

The post Clubhouse: popular kids’ hangout or a true asset for brands’ community building? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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With feature updates and new accessories, the RODECaster Pro is a podcaster’s dream come true

June 27, 2020 No Comments

You might have been considering — or have already started — picking up a new hobby this year, particularly one you can do at home. Podcasting seems to be a popular option, and RODE is a company that has done more to cater specifically to this audience than just about any other audio company out there. The RODECaster Pro ($ 599) all-in-one podcast production studio they released in 2018 is a fantastic tool for anyone looking to maximize their podcasting potential, and with amazing new firmware updates released this year, along with a host of great new accessories, it has stepped up even further.

The basics

The RODECaster Pro is a powerful production studio, but it’s not overwhelming for people who aren’t audio engineers by trade. The deck balances offering plenty of physical controls with keeping them relatively simple, giving you things like volume sliders and large pad-style buttons for top-level controls, and then putting more advanced features and tweaks behind layers of menus accessible via the large, high-resolution touchscreen for users who desire more fine-tuned manipulation.

RODECaster Pro includes four XLR inputs, each of which can provide (individually selectable) phantom power for condenser mics, along with four 1/4″ headphone outputs for corresponding monitoring. That’s great, because it means if you have guests used to recording podcasts and high-quality audio, they can listen to their own input, or you can opt to just have one producer keeping track of everything. There’s also a left and right 1/4″ audio out for a studio monitor speaker or other output, as well as a USB-C connector for plugging into a computer, and a 3.5mm in for connecting a smartphone or other external audio source. Smartphones can also be connected via Bluetooth, which is very handy for including a call-in guest via wireless.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The main surface of the RODECaster Pro includes volume sliders for each available input and pre-set sound effects; volume knobs for each headphone and speaker output; buttons to activate and deactivate inputs; large buttons for playing back pre-set audio files and a large record button. There’s also a touchscreen that gives you access to menus and settings, and which also acts as a visual levels editor while recording.

RODECaster Pro is designed so that you can use it completely independently of any computer or smartphone — it has a microSD slot for recording, and you can then upload those files via either directly connecting the deck through USB, or plugging the card in to a microSD card reader and transferring your files. You can also use multitrack-to-USB or stereo USB output modes on the RODECaster Pro to effectively turn the studio hardware into a USB audio interface for your Mac or PC, letting you record with whatever digital audio production software you’d like, including streaming software.

Design

The RODECaster Pro’s design is a perfect blend of studio-quality hardware controls and simplicity, making the device accessible to amateurs and pros alike. I was up and running with the deck out of the box in just a few minutes, and without making any adjustments at all to the sound profile or settings, I had great-sounding recordings using the RODE PodMic, a $ 99 microphone that is optimized by RODE to work with the RODECaster Pro out of the box.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

All the controls are easy and intuitive to manage, and you shouldn’t need to read any instruction manuals or guides to get started. The eight-button sound effects grid is likely the most complicated part of the entire physical interface, but even the default sounds that RODE includes can be useful, and you can easily set your own via the RODECaster companion app for Mac and PC; in the box you’ll find guides you can use to overlay the buttons and label them to keep track of which is which.

The sliders are smooth and great to use, making it easy to do even, manual fade-ins and fade-outs for intro and outro or pre-recorded soundbites. Backlit keys for active/inactive inputs, mute status and the large record button mean you can tell with a quick glance what is and isn’t currently active on the track.

RODE has smartly included a locking power adapter in the box, so that you won’t find the cord accidentally yanked out in the middle of a recording. Each of the XLR inputs also includes a quick release latch for secure connections. And while the RODECaster Pro definitely takes up a lot of space with roughly the footprint of a 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’s light enough to be perfectly portable in a backpack for on-location recordings.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The touchscreen display is another design highlight; it’s high-resolution, with a matte cover that makes it viewable in a wide range of light, and very responsive touch input, It’s a great way to extend the functionality of the deck through software, while still ensuring nothing feels fiddly or hard to navigate, which can be the case with hardware jog controllers like you’d find on a Zoom recorder, for instance.

Features

Balancing simplicity and power is the real reason RODECaster Pro works so well. If you’re just starting out, you can basically just begin using it out of the box without changing anything at all about how it’s set up to work. That’s especially true if you’re using any of RODE’s microphones, each of which has built-in profiles included for optimizing sound settings instantly.

I mentioned above that the RODE PodMic is optimized for use with the RODECaster Pro in this way, and the results are fantastic. If the price tag on the RODECaster Pro is a deterrent, it’s worth considering that the PodMic is a fantastically affordable dynamic podcasting mic, which produces sound way above its class when paired with the deck. So the overall cost of a RODE podcasting setup using both of these would actually be relatively reasonable versus other solutions.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

If you’re ready to dive in and customize sound, you can toggle features like built-in compressor, de-esser and other audio effects. You can also manually adjust each of these effects, as the release of Firmware 2.1 earlier this month lets you adjust the processing of each included sound effect through the RODECaster Pro companion app for a totally custom, unique finally sound.

The ability to pre-load and call up sound effects and other audio tracks on demand on the RODECaster Pro is another killer feature. It’s true that you could achieve a lot of this in editing post-recording, but having it all to-hand for use in live recording scenarios just feels better, and it also enables genuine interactions with your guests that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. That 2.1 firmware update also brought the ability to loop clips indefinitely, which could be great if you want to place a subtle backing track throughout your recording.

One final feature I’ll highlight because it’s fantastic, especially in a world where it might be hard to consistently get guests in-studio, is the smartphone connectivity. You can either plug in via cable, or connect via low-latency Bluetooth for terrific call-in interactivity, using whatever software you want on your smartphone.

Accessories

RODE has done a great job building out an ecosystem of accessories to further extend the capabilities of the RODECaster Pro and enhance the overall user experience. Among its recent releases, there’s the RODE PodMic, mentioned above, as well as colored cable clips that correspond to each input backlight color for easily keeping track of which hardware is which, 1/4″ to 3.5mm stereo jack adapters for using standard headphones as monitors, a TRRS-to-TRRS 3.5mm audio aux cable for smartphone connections and a USB power cable to replace the adapter for easier plug-in power on the go.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The small plastic cuffs for your XLR cables are simple but smart ways of keeping track of gear, especially when everyone’s using the same mic (as they likely should be for sound consistency) — and it helps that they enhance the look of your overall setup, too. And the USB power cable in particular is a great addition to any RODECaster Pro kit that you’re intending to use outside of your own recording studio/home, as you can use it with any USB charger you have to hand — so long as it can provide 5V/2.5A output.

The real must-have accessory for the RODECaster Pro, however, is the RODE PodMic. It’s a no-fuss, well-built and durable microphone that transports well and can work flexibly with a wide range of mounting options, and in a wide variety of settings, including open air and in-studio. Yes, you can get better sound with more expensive mics, but with the PodMic, you can afford a set of four to complement the RODECaster Pro for the same price you’d pay for one higher-end microphone, and most people won’t notice the audio quality difference for their podcasting needs.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Bottom line

The RODECaster Pro is a fantastic way to upgrade your at-home podcasting game — and a perfect way to take the show on the road once you’re able to do so. Its high-quality hardware controls, combined with smart, sophisticated software that has improved with consistent RODE firmware updates to address user feedback over time, are a winning combo for amateurs, pros and anyone along the spectrum in between.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Does Asana’s planned direct listing reveal the company’s true value?

February 4, 2020 No Comments

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Asana, a well-known workplace productivity company, announced yesterday it has filed privately to go public. The San Francisco-based company is well-funded, having raised more than $ 200 million; well-known, due in part to its tech-famous founding duo; and valuable, having last raised at a $ 1.5 billion valuation.

Each of those factors — plus the fact that Asana is going public — makes the company worth exploring, but its plans to offer a direct listing instead of a traditional initial public offering make it irresistible.

Today, we’ll rewind through Asana’s fundraising and valuation history. Then, we’ll mix in what we know about its financial performance, growth rates and capital efficiency to see how much we can tell about the company as we count down to its public S-1 filing. The Asana flotation is going to be big news, so let’s get all our facts and figures straightened out.

Valuations and revenue


Enterprise – TechCrunch


The True Story of #CivilWar2 and #CivilWarPotluck

October 1, 2019 No Comments

The memes started after one of President Trump’s tweets—but their history goes back much further.
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