Social media and digital platforms seem to be experiencing peer pressure, with digital communication transitioning to audio format. The format is pulling back erstwhile social media users and helping Social media and digital platforms monetize comfortably. The shift of audio consumption from radio to mobile streaming intensified as COVID-19 disrupted the lifestyle of people spending more time indoors and less time in cars listening to music.
No More Passive Social Post
Initially, the rise of social audio is led by Clubhouse. The invite-only, audio-only app, combined with rich media and PR publicity and its new method of connecting people, resulted in accelerated growth. It drove companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify to create or buy similar audio products in less than a year. Despite the fanfare, though, it has struggled to maintain consistent growth, with app downloads declining.
Facebook Live Audio Rooms
Facebook had revealed a slew of upcoming audio product development in April, including Clubhouse’s live audio competitor and new podcast features. With the launch of Live Audio Rooms on iOS in the United States, starting with public figures and select Facebook Groups, and the premiere of an initial set of U.S. podcast partners, Facebook has officially launched the product. On Live Audio Rooms, one can invite anybody to talk, and up to 50 individuals can speak simultaneously. There is no limit on the number of people that may attend, which is a big hurdle for Clubhouse, which has room space restrictions.
Facebook Podcast Space
Additionally, Facebook is introducing an initial group of podcast partners in the United States. Many individuals, podcasts, and groups will be added to both products in the next weeks and months, making them more widely available. Meanwhile, starting early this week, all Facebook users in the United States will be able to listen to Live Audio Rooms and podcasts.
Admins can regulate who can join a room within a group: moderators, group members, or other admins. Private group conversations will be restricted to members only, while public group chats will be available to insiders and outsiders. In addition, hosts can choose a cause or fundraiser to support during their chat using the Donate button. The feature is similar to Clubhouse’s fundraisers. Clubhouse fundraisers are comparable to this function. Many Clubhouse admins have held fundraisers within the app, but they have to refer visitors to other URLs to make donations.
“Raise A Hand” Feature
The session organizers are represented by circular profile icons at the top of the screen, while smaller symbols represent the listeners in the lower half of the screen. A bright ring identifies the active speaker. Facebook also offers a “raise hand” feature for requesting to speak and methods for sharing the room with others on Facebook via News Feed or Group postings. According to the Facebook team, automated captioning will be available later this year, and clips will allow listeners to create and share their favorite snippets.
“Stars” Gather Stars
Heart, Like, Anger, Joy, Thumb, etc., are a passe. With Live Audio Rooms’ formal debut, listeners send “Stars” to public figures to express their support. As stars continue to gather “stars” from users, those that show maximum support are promoted to the “Front Row” for the host to identify their supporters and, if desired, give them a shout-out during the event.
With Live Audio Rooms, Facebook is reportedly trying to reach a wider audience of influencers. Musicians like TOKiMONSTA, D Smoke, Kehlani, and media celebrities like Joe Budden and DeRay Mckesson, and sportsmen like Russell Wilson and Omareloff, will all have access to this tool. Facebook will also distribute Joe Budden’s podcast.
Social Audio Apps Round-Up
We acknowledge the possibility of niche audio apps that existed before Clubhouse, like Locker Room that Spotify acquired in the race to compete with Clubhouse, launched 15 months ago. In early 2021, Twitter launched Spaces, then Discord added Stage Channels, followed by Spotify’s Greenroom. And now you have Facebook’s Be Heard. We hear that LinkedIn and Slack are already working on their audio products. The competition is stiff, and Clubhouse seems to be losing the social audio race.
The Future of Live Audio Rooms
All audio-social networks will need to keep their burgeoning members interested once the pandemic eases and people move from their heavy reliance on the virtual world to real-world socializing. Although audio may be the next big thing, there’s still a long way to go before it catches on. However, does this mean we are over video formats?