How Clubhouse can revolutionize motorsport media
Nowadays anything could make headlines. Let’s keep it simple. Our starting point for this story will be the most basic concept that currently defines modern motorsport media and it obviously applies to a broader area revolving around the universe of communication.
Social media race faster than cars and, even if you had trouble following all the intricacies of the Internet, it feels impossible to unsee how hard-hitting the Clubhouse trend is. The approach towards the iPhone-only app has been rather timid due to several limitations, but it is destined to enjoy a rapid surge in popularity and leverage. How is it going to affect motorsport media? Hard to tell at the moment, but the potential is there and it just needs to be unlocked.
No links, just invitations. Clubhouse offers the possibility to drop in audio messages in chatrooms, whose privacy can be personalised by their own moderator(s). How to participate? Just tune in and see what is happening around you or be ready to enter the room if a friend of yours pings you. However, what is truly interesting is the elitist mechanism behind it: Clubhouse is solely based on connections and somewhat resembles paddock dynamics. In any business field, the first thing that panellists, teachers or mentors mention as keys to success is networking. Understanding the inner workings of an industry becomes effective through connections.
Being audio-only, the potential of Clubhouse might as well increase significantly. Speakers and listeners will not have to worry about the setting nor their appearance, which is why they will feel less hindered when it comes to taking part in the conversation. This aspect comes handy for speakers as well as listeners, as the audio format allows users to indulge in a certain degree of anonymity. Wording and substance become the real focus, an aspect that can definitely reshape the perception of the speakers, who need to pay attention to how and what they are saying. Communication is therefore narrowed down to the speech, which might be superficially interpreted as a step backwards, but in terms of quality it translates into taking giant steps forward.
As for our beloved motorsport heroes, we all love a more authentic and politically correct version of the sportsmen we admire and they might be up for unleashing it too on Clubhouse. Potential sponsors might as well try and use Clubhouse to investigate on their targets. Clubhouse provides its users with the chance of discussing various topics, making it easier for companies to find any matching values and interests with athletes. Obviously, this can work the other way around. Although the exposure is far more limited due to the lack of visuals, a powerful speech or an enlightening contribution may spark the interest of potential partners.
Also, why should drivers feel encouraged to express their views more freely? The audio content will disappear along with the virtual room. Once it closes, it is over, so you might as well seize the opportunity. This could actually tempt them to speak with more disclosure than they normally would, as on Twitch, but let’s not forget that press offices still yield incredible power over declarations and their drivers’ own social media channels. And just a friendly reminder: recording Clubhouse conversations for the purpose of sharing is strongly discouraged and could lead to legal problems.
Therefore, do not let yourselves be fooled by the informal atmosphere established on Clubhouse! I’m sure all of my fellow journos are aware of the fact that Clubhouse may give us a few headaches in the future. We love grey areas and Clubhouse stands for a huge one already. What if rumours start circulating from here? A more relaxed kind of environment could favour the ooze of news and exclusive bits, which could potentially translate into full-blown scoops. Obviously, Clubhouse’s popularity is still at an early stage and we’re just drawing hypothetical scenarios based on real inputs, but its nature could potentially increase forms of social-media-induced anxiety, especially the fear of missing out (FOMO). What if something important happens while I am logged off? The obsession of keeping up with social media content has turned into an authentic compulsive issue affecting our lives. It makes the whole system thrive as much as it compromises our routine and our way of dealing with it.
However, as much as social media can be toxic, we must go through one more positive aspect that highlights Clubhouse’s enormous potential. If more teams were to follow in Suzuki’s footsteps (that already landed there), motorsport could quickly build a safe space to bring fans and drivers closer through Q&As and casual sessions. As for now, the iPhone-only constraint is still holding Clubhouse back, but infinite ways to make it the next big thing are just right around the corner.
Author: Beatrice Zamuner – @ZamunerB
Photo: Federico Basile
How Clubhouse can revolutionize motorsport media