How Social Audio Is Changing Our Present

11 May, 2021 (Tuesday)

Ever since the pandemic has begun, there has been an apparent rise in the emergence of social audio. Twitter Spaces, Discord, Spotify's acquisition of Betty Labs, Stereo, and even LinkedIn announced that they'd be diving into the social audio trend. 

There's a lot of chat around Facebook's Audio Chat functionality. And later this year, Cuban billionaire Mark plans to launch a "next-gen podcast network" called Fireside which encourages live conversations. With many brands entering the social audio market, many speculate that social audio just might be the next big thing. 

The entire concept of social audio commenced all thanks to pandemic and Clubhouse. Really, Clubhouse's timing couldn't have been better. Although Clubhouse isn't the first to enter the market, it has become the poster boy for it. 

With more and more people stuck at home and visual fatigue on the rise, Clubhouse took the opportunity to enable proactive interactions amongst like-minded people to lessen the burden of fatigue and exhaustion from online meetings and increasing screen time. And people followed the app. Clubhouse was convenient, especially for working professionals and students. No scrolling on the phone was necessary so that you could take part in driving or cleaning dishes. The rooms were open and temporary so that you could stroll in a whim rather than calling a certain user, such as FaceTime or Zoom and waiting for them to pick up. You could sit back and listen or hop in on any call that suited your fancy. And because you can hear everyone's words, encounters with strangers could be strangely intimate—such as listening to a podcast that allows you to talk back.

However, it would be unfair to give pandemic and Clubhouse all the credit for the rise. While the pandemic has excited an audience for these new social networks, some think that the plot was already in motion longer than one realizes. In the last ten years, the audience of Podcasts increased steadily; with larger and larger audiences getting attracted to it day by day. 

But podcasts didn't act alone, audio products helped too. The advent of digital assistants on many of these devices has trained users to look like two-way devices on headphones or speakers. People listen to their speakers, but they still communicate with one another.

All of these factors played a major role in the emergence and rise of social media. However, social audio apps can't just rely on their technicalities. For social audio apps to maintain or increase their popularity, much of it depends on their users. There have to be rooms in these apps that are broadcasting what listeners are drawn to. People also need to feel safe in these rooms and discussions; apps must moderate user-generated content to ensure there's no inappropriate content or comments whilst also making sure that they are inclusive to all their users on the app.

Although some speculate that few social audio apps may lose their users once the pandemic is lifted if they don't manage their communities well, a large number of experts believe that social audio apps just may be the future and have the potential for further growth.