Social audio, what it is and how it can be useful for companies

What is social audio

We are all used to seeing social media content such as text, emojis and videos. Today, thanks to the explosion of podcasts and Clubhouse – the social network based on the exclusive use of the voice – creators and marketers have a new element at their disposal to enrich their communication: social audio.

Unlike podcasts that are recorded for later listening, social audio works in real time and allows listeners to actively participate in dialogue .

Social audio is particularly effective because it adds a dimension of context to communication that is not possible in a written text. When listening to someone’s voice, for example, understanding is affected by their intonation.

These information elements are lost in the videos, although there is also an audio track in them, because what we see in a movie (protagonists, accessories, background, etc.) cannibalizes our attention at the expense of everything else.

In social audio we only hear voices , so you don’t have to worry about the physical appearance or the scenographic aspects.

How much-will-be-used-social-audio

In his in-depth analysis, Jeremiah Owyang estimates that Clubhouse currently has around 10 million registered users and that the average user session lasts 90 minutes.

Over the next 12-18 months, we will see continued growth in the adoption of social audio in general (with Clubhouse, Fireside and Twitter Spaces).

This trend is certainly conditioned by the pandemic and forced isolation. However, even as more people receive vaccines and we get closer to a form of normality, there will still be many individuals who will continue to work from home, taking advantage of digital opportunities.

This means that social audio will continue to be used over the long term.

Social audio: what changes for business and marketing

On a substantial level, for companies that intend to integrate social audio into marketing and customer care, there are no major differences in approach between platforms such as Clubhouse and other social media.

You need to use highly trained spokespersons who are able to present, communicate, converse and listen with empathy.

Social audio, of course, works best if these spokespersons are good conversationalists (and community moderators or rooms like Clubhouse’s).

When you’re participating in a live audio conversation, we can’t copy-paste a press release or use a ready-made document, other than as a playlist. If there is a dialogue, you need to be ready to answer even uncomfortable questions, without being caught unprepared. Especially if we speak on behalf of a company or a brand .

Even managers will realize that what works on other social media may not work on social audio. On these platforms, people want an authentic and human dialogue, even if you speak on behalf of an organization.

Social audio for live-online events

Social audio has the potential to have a profound impact across the entire live online events industry.

From what you are seeing on Clubhouse, especially in the American rooms, this is very likely because very segmented conversations and sponsorships of brands and companies are increasing.

Currently, most online events use live video conferencing to connect attendees with each other.

Live online conferences could arrive at Clubhouse (with free access or limited by a ticket), where each participant would have the possibility to move from one room to another on a specific topic, as if it were a work table, in relation to your interests or your professional and training needs.

AI could help gather useful data and determine who is influential, spread of conversation and sentiment, impressions of who is in the room and audio engagement rates.

Possible-developments of social-audio

In the wake of Clubhouse, established platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are also starting to develop audio features. This suggests that social audio is here to stay.

It is very likely that in 5 years the social audio channels will not be independent products, but will be integrated into other platforms, becoming one more tool to add to the communicator’s toolbox.

Here are some things that could be integrated into social audio.

  • The addition of text-based features and emoticons.
  • The ability to record audio conversations and post them as a podcast at a later time.
  • There might also be the possibility to selectively record only one voice, to respect people’s privacy.
  • The integration of blockchain and cryptocurrencies so that people can monetize social audio and the conversations they participate in.
  • Premium rooms are being studied, perhaps linked to artistic or entertainment content, with removal of background noise, stereo sound and spatial audio with particular effects.
  • Another fundamental aspect will be the integration of social audio in external environments to the native ones, such as a website or a blog , which may have a button to allow readers to join a live conversation with the author.

Business models for leveraging social audio

We can divide the business models related to social audio into three main groups.

  1. The user-based business model is where customers pay to access premium features, such as enhanced audio experiences, and are able to suggest creator the content they would like to see within the platform.
  • The marketing or advertising business models take advantage of paid visibility by selling club sponsorships and branded emoticons, banner advertising and rooms sponsored by brands and companies.
  • The business model based on monetization of data uses anonymous user data to sell it to advertisers or governments, or access to API of the platform to sell it to app developers.

As we have seen, the development margins related to social audio, as well as the possibilities to experiment with new audio formats, are many.

And you, are you thinking of integrating social audio into your marketing strategy or corporate communication?

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