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Let’s Talk: The Future of Social Networking

A graphic of various people talking with headsets on, with lines drawn between each of them demonstrating a connection.

Posted on 01/27/2021 at 10:30 AM

Audio-only Social Media Platforms Introduce a New Way to Engage

Chances are, you own a pair of headphones. If not headphones, maybe wireless earbuds, an Echo, Google Home, or your vehicle has Bluetooth capabilities. In other words, our accessibility and use of audio tech have not only become a way of life but these products have truly exploded onto the scene.

According to research by NPD, a market research firm, the sale of Bluetooth headphones, speakers, and soundbars in 2020 totaled $7.5 billion—a 20 percent increase from 2019. A twenty percent increase of equipment we’ve had access to for years, if not decades. Why?

Well, like most everyone and everything, COVID-19 impacted the technology industry, too. With mass social isolation also comes boredom and an awareness of our need to connect. So people were more willing to invest in a nice soundbar to binge their favorite show while being stuck at home night after night, as well as get that nice set of earbuds to more easily hear a Facetime or Skype call.

But what does this new wave of audio have to do with you as a business? Only the newest and upcoming form of social networking, of course: audio-only social media.

Talking Only, Please

If you aren’t familiar with platforms like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, or Stereo (just to name a few), it won’t be long before you are. Within the last year, these apps have come onto the social networking scene, and people are noticing. Or maybe we should say “and people are listening.”

Although audio-social apps have launched before, never during a time quite like 2020. Even during closed beta testing, the rise of the invite-only app Clubhouse has highlighted something unique about the medium: the ability for a person to participate whether driving or doing laundry, on a walk, or shoveling snow.

This app, and others like it, require no scrolling on a screen (so you can forget about screen fatigue!). The “rooms” are open and transient, allowing you to come and go as you please. There’s an ability to simply sit quietly and listen to others chat away and maintain your anonymity, or hop into the conversation to offer your perspective with others from all over the country.

Essentially, think of these audio-only apps like a podcast being live-broadcasted and also giving you, the moderator or the listener, the opportunity to weigh in, in real-time. It creates a unique sense of proximity and even intimacy among strangers, simply through just talking.

 

Screen shot of the logo for the Stereo audio-only app and website

 

One user on the Stereo audio platform writes:

“In this anonymous, digital space, I encountered people and ideas I would never have otherwise. With the freedom to engage with the average person’s unfiltered thoughts, I grew in my desire and ability to understand the world and its people.” - Zach Klebaner

Thinking outside the box when it comes to a social media strategy will always win you points. So while we know traditional forms of social media networking ought to be a part of that digital marketing strategy, and most definitely the use of video, you should also consider getting in on these audio-only opportunities. Here’s why.

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Stories Matter

The sense of feeling heard is important. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a child interacting with a parent, an athlete speaking to his coach, or a consumer calling the billing department. We all have a voice. Or in other words, we all have a story and we want to feel heard and understood.

And stories matter.

As a business, these audio-platforms will work in two ways to help propel you forward: telling your story and listening to others’ stories.

On one hand, it will allow you to tell your story as a business. What is the mission behind your company? How do you solve a problem for your consumer? What can you do for your client to help them? 

An image reading "The long and short of Youtube #shorts", with an arrow pointing to a mobile phone screen showing what a YouTube Short is

 

Experience says that unless someone knows you, they have no reason to trust you. Give people an opportunity to know you and your business by engaging (and engaging frequently!) with them on something like Stereo or Twitter Spaces. You have a variety of free platforms to choose from to interact in real-time with consumers. Give them opportunities to trust you.

The other way audio-only platforms can help you as a business is simple!

You can actually interact with the consumer. What’s important to them? What are they worried about? What problems do they need to be solved?

You have a world of insight right at your fingertips, simply by effective listening and paying attention.

By giving your consumer the chance to feel heard and understood, and you will have all types of content ideas given to you, new product ideas dropped in your lap, and more. There is a lot to gain with these audio-based platforms.

The Future is All Talk

From the steady rise of the need for VEO (Voice Engine Optimization) to these new audio platforms, one thing is clear: The future is all talk! As these spaces and platforms continue to be rolled out, we recommend that you do some research and discover which one you like best.

One thing to consider will be privacy issues; how are talking spaces moderated? Are you able to report and block offensive users? Find out who can join, if it’s by invite only, and how to grow the platform to interact with your target audience.

And as Digital Strategy Manager at Global Reach Steven J. Adelmund says, "Remember, early adopters of new services on social platforms are often the ones most rewarded, build the largest early audience, and are the most likely to be featured by the platform!" 

So, get to talking and enjoy audio-only mode.

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