Last week, Spotify announced it’d be the latest platform to dive into the realm of social audio spaces with the launch of Greenroom. From Clubhouse to Twitter Spaces to Discord Stage Channels, the past year or so has seen the latest social media trend expand.
For creators, podcasters, and even community organizers, these platforms can play a role in building a community and communicating in the style of a virtual fireside chat. And with that notion, also comes the opportunity for businesses of all sizes to determine how they can adapt with social audio platforms.
The main differentiator of social audio from something like a podcast is that a podcast is a one-way medium. This means that a podcast is intended to be listened to at some point in the future and the listener obviously has no way to engage with an episode in real-time.
Social audio is a way for an audience to interact in real-time with a broadcast, dialog, or session. So now you’re probably asking: “Isn’t this just an explanation of a radio talk show?”
And yes, you would be right, however social media platforms utilizing and creating these types of spaces removes the logistics of running a talk radio show and opens the door for anyone to be their own “DJ”.
And, there’s also the comparison to the numerous video platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams that can be made. Though social audio is a voice-only space, so worrying about what’s in the background of your camera is not necessary.
Currently, there are close to 30 social audio platforms with a few jumping ahead of the pack. Let’s take a look at a few of these platforms and see what makes them tick:
Clubhouse launched in March of 2020 and now has over 10 million users. Clubhouse is organized by virtual rooms that each have a different topic that people can discuss once they’ve joined. Think of the platform like a voice-only Reddit with a little more freedom as to what you can do in a “room.” Some comedians have used the platform to do stand-up and other users used the space to run game shows. Through the course of the pandemic, Clubhouse became a way for people to easily reconnect or make new acquaintances.
Once a user joins a room, they can either just listen to the conversation, or they can participate and speak by pressing a “raise hand” button. In return, moderators can decide when to let a person speak. Just like how people who call into sports radio shows are vetted before giving their hot takes, Clubhouse allows moderators to control the “room” so the dialog or conversation doesn’t fall into chaos.
One of the drawbacks of Clubhouse, however, is that accessing the app can only be done through invitation currently. Anyone can still sign-up to reserve a username, though you’ll have to join a waitlist if you haven’t been invited.
Twitter Spaces officially launched to the general public this past May. Anyone can join a space as a listener, though in order to host a session, a user needs at least 600 followers. Some of the use cases for hosting a space might be to promote your latest music, run a Q&A with your audience, or provide live audio broadcasts.
This platform’s hosts can make rooms very personal in terms of who to invite. They can directly message other users to join a space or provide a link to whoever. It doesn’t have to be a public room if they don’t want it to be. And for those in the space, up to 11 users can speak at once while the amount of listeners allowed is limitless.
Spotify Greenroom is similar to Twitter Spaces though it’s positioned more as a way for creators to run live shows or interviews. The platform also has a calendar feature, so you can be alerted or keep track of upcoming shows that are scheduled. The platform also has subcategories and topics that will show different rooms that are discussing anything from, for example, sports in general to more specifically a team like the Los Angeles Lakers.
People in a room can “raise their hand” to speak or ask a question and each room can have a discussion tab so anyone can write a message as well during the broadcast. Something called “Gems” are also being used as a way to gamify the platform or allow users to “Like” something another user might have said during a broadcast. The number of Gems you receive in a broadcast will be viewable on your profile.
There are a few ways to go about integrating your business with a social audio platform. At the heart of the platform is an opportunity for businesses to connect even further with their clients or customers on social media channels.
For example, how often do you see someone reply with a complaint to a company’s Twitter account for poor service on their website or at one of their stores? Potentially something Twitter Spaces can provide another way to address customer care and humanize an interaction that has become synonymous with automated chatbots. For those wanting to really provide human dialog for customers and their questions or complaints, a social audio platform may be a way to address this.
Another way for businesses to look at social audio platforms is to think of the platforms as a way to host live and online events for external or even internal affairs. Something like a webinar still requires a company to plan for slides or have some sort of visuals. A social audio platform removes that necessity, though also makes providing entertaining audio even more vital. Perhaps it’s an easier and more accessible way for companies to host Q&A events as well.
With so many social audio platforms going public in the past year or so, it’s safe to say we’re in a period of competition. For a platform to stand out, adapting to the needs of the audience will play an important role in the evolution of these platforms.
This includes listening to suggestions of integrations. For example, Clubhouse just made it possible to share a link from a Room on Twitter. User experience will also play a role as poor audio quality and connection will probably receive less leeway from users if there’s a better platform available elsewhere.
And lastly, each platform might try to figure out a way to make their social audio as necessary on the everyday article as any current social icon. Perhaps, for example, embedding a Twitter Space logo on to an article will provide a chance for readers to join a space with an author of the article so a discussion can continue there.
While some might say social audio is just a fancy way to say talk radio, social audio is integrating social media with live audio to an extent that just hasn’t been explored to its fullest yet.