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Think Social Audio Is a Fad? Think Again!

From our partners at Reddit

 

Keeping community central to the experience is key as the medium finds its footing.




The challenge

Marketers are always looking for new ways to reach and engage people—and it was with great delight that we discovered social audio, led by Clubhouse, at the beginning of the pandemic.

Clubhouse ushered in a new way for communities to connect and interact, and we shouldn’t dismiss it as a one-hit-wonder.

As with any new medium, we’re seeing both challenges and opportunities at play here. While it is still nascent in many ways, the opportunity is intriguing and the ecosystem is bigger than just Clubhouse with Twitter Spaces, Discord, Meta, Fireside, Riffr, Stereo, LinkedIn and Reddit all finding their footing in social audio.

Think of social audio as adding an audio experience to social media. While a podcast is more of a performance that an audience passively (and asynchronously) consumes, social audio allows for a livelier and more communal experience. The audience is not a faceless mass—it is a key value add. The process

While people spend more time than ever in front of screens—Zoom fatigue, anyone?—social audio offers a screen-free way of connecting to and hearing from communities.


The ability to move seamlessly between passive and active participation enables an experience that is empowering and compelling. It should be approached with the audience in mind, ideally tapping into an existing community centered on a specific interest. This is important because social audio is not just about the size of its built-in audience, but the audience within a lively community.


Herein lies a key differentiator for social audio: It is centered on a topic, not a creator or host. The dynamic conversation between passionate community members is the spark. As marketers, our role is to know and tap into relevant communities and find the intersection between event and experience that enables an authentic social audio activation. Once identified, these opportunities allow us to add to the conversation and connect with community in a meaningful way.


If you believe in the power of communities and want to venture away from broadcasting into the more intimate way of connecting, here are a few angles to consider:

  • Market intelligence: Scout different social audio platforms. Pay attention to the topics of conversation that relate to your brand or category. Make sure the conversation is lively, authentic and topical. If the underlying community is not engaged and passionate, chances are the social audio spark will not fly.


  • Events: In a remote/hybrid world, social audio offers a great solution for events, forums and summits. Thinking of hosting a panel discussion about a topic that is relevant to a community? Make sure to invite them to participate.


  • Utility and thought leadership: Move over, webinar. Social audio is a great way to create branded content that informs. Make experts and thought leaders available to communities and let conversations unfold. Help people understand how your product or service can fuel their passion and make it a dialogue. Explicitly include the audience by soliciting their expertise and perspective. The value lies in the conversation more than in the Q&A.

The takeaway

Social audio is part of the ongoing evolution that drives community marketing—but it needs to add value in order to have staying power. The initial hype was a great driver of social audio but ultimately fell short of its potential, as it did not put the community in the center—to the contrary, it was driven by an elitist approach based on tiered invites and exclusivity.

Manufactured scarcity will almost always lose out to utility and community in the long run.


Social audio will be here to stay if it has a strong community aspect, central to the experience more than a feature of it, and it is not measured against recorded audio like podcasts, because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.


In summary, opportunity abounds. The low cost of entry makes it a must-try. Scale and growth are also not a given because content and community connection matter. There are no winners yet, so there’s room for experimentation and creativity.


 

Originally posted on ADWEEK.