Are You Ready for Social Audio?
In a Covid-19 era that has effectively quashed the spontaneous conversations that used to bloom in cubicle land, social audio apps have flourished.
7th May 2021
Are You Ready for Social Audio?
Social audio is more than Clubhouse. True, Clubhouse has quickly become the symbol for social audio – we blogged about its sudden rise in popularity in February – but Clubhouse has company. Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are launching their own audio-only features. And niche social audio apps are catching on for people interested in topics ranging from sports to well-being. What are the implications for brands?
Social Networks and Social Audio Specialists Ride the Wave
In a Covid-19 era that has effectively quashed the spontaneous conversations that used to bloom in cubicle land, social audio apps have flourished. As venture-capitalist investor Jeremy Liew notes, “In a world where you can’t really go out or you are afraid to go out, anything that offers a spontaneous experience really gets a boost.”
The best-known of these apps is Clubhouse. But more are sprouting up, such as:
- Quilt, with its wellness mandate. Quilt conversation rooms fall into one of three categories: spiritual and personal development; career and purpose; and relationships, sex, and family.
- Locker Room, an audio app dedicated to sports talk.
- Watercooler, meant for informal conversations with work associates.
Meanwhile, the big networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are rolling out their own answers to Clubhouse:
- Facebook is rolling out an ambitious live audio experience that includes chat rooms, access to podcasts, and the creation of short-form audio content. Facebook announced its plans on April 19. The company’s major push into audio will be rolled out in coming months.
- LinkedIn has also confirmed that it’s testing its own social audio experience—one firmly connected with users’ professional identities.
- As for Twitter, the platform is in the process of launching its audio alternative: Spaces. Described as “a small experiment focused on the intimacy of the human voice,” Spaces (still in beta) touts itself as an egalitarian alternative to Clubhouse: no invites required.
When the big players get involved, you know social audio has made it.
Why Social Audio is Becoming Popular Among Users
Why is social audio such a hot ticket right now? Well, Covid-19 certainly has an impact with people being forced to stay in contact remotely, resulting in Zoom fatigue. Maybe we’re just tired of staring at each other? On social audio, members can talk all they want without needing to worry about how they look (no ring lights needed!). As analyst Jeremiah Owyang observed in this post, social audio is “the Goldilocks medium . . . Text is not enough, and video is too much; social audio is just right.”
Although social audio is certainly not the only way people can reach out, it’s a powerful format. Perhaps it’s the use of our voices, adding a human touch, that sets social audio apart.
How Brands Might Get Involved
Social audio offers opportunities for brands—many opportunities, in fact, according to Jeremiah Owyang, including:
- Customer care: companies can establish a peer-to-peer social audio community, built around the lifestyle aspects of their brand. Social audio is a place for brand loyalists to gather and engage.
- Entertainment/engagement: what can your brand teach customers? Social audio is a perfect vehicle for providing instruction and access to experts.
- Influence: does your company have an in-person or online event pending? Pair it with an on-platform “event” (e.g., a conversation or room) that enhances your main gathering.
What You Should Do
What should brands do going forward? We suggest:
- Watch closely how people engage in these apps. Treat them as a consumer focus group.
- Get involved through your own people. Many brands already are! They’re relying on their executives to participate in chatrooms and clubs by discussing trends affecting their industry. Take a look at the fashion industry, which presents an instructive model. According to Glossy, a successfully weekly Clubhouse show called “Culture Club” focuses on fashion but addresses other topics, as well. As one of the hosts, Jeff Carvalho, the co-founder of Highsnobiety, says, “[Clubhouse is] a great place to be a founder and to share your message.”
As we’ve previously noted about Clubhouse, “Get a personal account, and nominate a small team of team members to do the same. Start learning from your own people in anticipation that someday brands will have a presence on Clubhouse somehow.” The same can be said about any of these social audio apps.
To learn more about how to create engagement on digital, contact Asher Wren.