The Next Big Thing in Digital Engagement Just Might Be Social Audio

July 16, 2021 | Experiential Marketing

One of the most prominent social media trends as of late (which is also likely to be a welcome respite for many consumers looking to give their eyes a break from video conferencing), is social audio. Focused on real-time, moderated conversations that are held in an audio-format only, what separates them from podcasts is that they allow listeners to actively engage and participate in topic-based discussions.

The evolving trend, which first emerged during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, has continued to pick up steam, even as the world reopens. And for brands, social audio can offer a meaningful opportunity to connect with audiences in an informal setting that meets users where they are.

So as the burgeoning space opens up, we take a closer look at social audio trends and how they can provide brands with new potential channels to reach audiences and elevate their overall digital engagement strategy.

Exploring the Rise of Social Audio

One of the most powerful components of any brand marketing strategy is the ability to tell a story. And at the foundation of all storytelling is content. Looking at social audio from a content standpoint, it’s clear that it can provide brands with the chance to form a real relationship with audiences in that it’s all about exchanging and sharing beyond simply text.

“The human voice is one of the most intimate tools that we have to relate with other people,” notes Voices on social audio trends. “With social audio, users can speak out and share their stories with the world, while feeling as closely connected as if they are in the same room with the users they’re talking to. As social audio continues to take off, brands and creators will both be looking for ways to capitalize on this new medium to reach their audiences where they are.”

Several buzzy platforms like Clubhouse, Stereo, Twitter Spaces, and more, are all seeing a rise in popularity, with the invite-only Clubhouse following growing exponentially. What this means is that now could be an optimal time for brands to consider exploring the possibilities of adding social audio to their content strategies.

Beyond a storytelling opportunity, social audio platforms can also serve as a way for brands to authentically reach people where they are, something today’s consumers are looking for and actively craving, while also making room for a more individualized experience.

“Still, audio social networks seem to offer something that traditional social media cannot,” notes MIT Technology Review. “One of the format’s main benefits is the way it gives users the immediate connection of a voice or video call, but on their own terms.”

And when it comes to something like Twitter Spaces, it’s key to note that Twitter itself already has many millions of users tuned in to its platform. The app is also a place where many consumers go to find out “what’s happening,” meaning brands can leverage the platform’s real-time cultural relevance to join, or start, of-the-moment conversations.

Social audio trends come at a time when digital and sound experiences are growing overall, from spatial audio to sonic branding to brand-inspired playlists, but beyond storytelling and reaching audiences where they are, what else can brands take away from these platforms?

Providing Meaningful Opportunities

One of the key opportunities that social audio trends can offer to brands is a channel to elevate their thought leadership. From using certain platforms to engage in Q&As, focus groups, or even fireside chats, there’s real potential for brands to grow awareness and reach audiences looking for insightful content.

“Clubhouse is all about sharing knowledge, educating others and learning,” notes Social Media Today. “This presents a huge opportunity for brands that have executives who are experts in their space and want to grow their influence across the social media ecosystem.”

One area that event and trade show professionals should also take note of? The potential for social audio trends when it comes to supplementing live online programs, particularly the networking and idea sharing aspect.

“Currently, many live online events are using live video conferencing to connect participants with each other,” notes Social Media Examiner. “Imagine a Clubhouse hallway (think conference area) devoted to a live event, from which participants could enter any number of rooms (think topic-based, birds-of-a-feather tables) to have casual business conversations that match their needs or interests. AI could be layered in to determine who’s influential, conversation spread and sentiment, impressions by who’s in the room, and audio engagement rates.”

It’s key to note that for brands interested in the social audio approach, it’s going to be vital to remain aware of some of the potential issues that could be associated with these kinds of platforms, especially trolling.

“A crisis or issue can be caused by many factors,” notes Social Media Today. “Disgruntled employees who are upset with management, their pay, their coworkers or their benefits. Customers who have a negative experience with a brand. And of course, the everyday trolls who have nothing better to do but stir up trouble.”

As with any type of content marketing strategy, planning ahead and developing a thoughtful approach to stay prepared is key. What’s more, several platforms do take an active approach to moderate and monitor negative content.

The Takeaway

Although some view social audio trends as a passing pandemic fad, it’s becoming apparent that the trend isn’t going away any time soon. And brands would be smart to jump onboard, too. Whether it’s through watch parties, post-event conversations, ask-me-anything sessions, interviews, panel discussions or to chime in on hot industry topics, there are plenty of ways to engage with social audio users, so find your format—and speak up.

Posted by Dyan Cornacchio | Request as a Speaker

Social media and creative writing connoisseur. Obsessed with my golden retriever, pop culture, and pizza. Nothing makes me happier than being home on LI, relaxing at the beach with my family.