3 Reasons Why Audio Will Conquer Social Media

Opinion: You can consume it passively

Voice and audio allow people to multitask seamlessly and effortlessly PeopleImages/iStock

Today, most social media platforms are visual platforms. From static photos to animated GIFs, long form video, short form video, ephemeral content, live videos and also text (because you need to read it), everything is almost visual.

But what about audio content?

Let’s look at the top social networks and what they are used for the most:

  • Text: Twitter, Medium, Reddit, Quora.
  • Video: YouTube, Facebook, Stories (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp).
  • Photos: Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr.
  • Audio: SoundCloud, Spotify.

So, the major social networks are using photos, videos and text. But, as we all know, there is a rising star among content in social media and digital marketing: audio.

Let’s take, for example, podcasting, the type of content that’s growing year over year, with monthly listeners increasing 24 percent in 2017.

When you want to consume a video piece of content on social media—let’s say, on YouTube—you have to be actively involved. This means that you have to watch the video. Or, when you scroll down the Instagram feed, you have to see those photos.

But audio content is different: You can consume it passively.

This means that even if you are shopping, cooking, going to the gym or driving your car, you can easily consume audio. You don’t have to be actively involved.

According to Activate Tech & Media Outlook 2018, podcasting is projected to almost double to 112 million people and 15 billion hours of content by 2021.

So, is audio important in social media marketing strategy?

I asked Brian Peters, digital marketing strategist at Buffer and host of podcast The Science of Social Media, for his opinion on audio content in social media and in the digital marketing world in general.

Peters said, “Audio content gives marketers and brands yet another incredible (and innovative) way to connect with their audience on social media. Plus, audio is one of the most ‘personal and intimate’ types of media available, allowing people to connect on a much deeper and more meaningful level. At Buffer, we’ve used audio to repurpose blog posts, share snippets of our podcast, say hello to our customers and much more. You have to be agile and willing to experiment constantly on social media, and audio is the perfect platform to do so.”

When we talk about audio content, we aren’t only talking about podcasts: It can also be audio content as repurposed articles, reply with an audio format to customers, creating music playlists and so on.

And to be honest, we use audio daily (create and consume): We send daily voice message to our friends in private discussions, we use voice to find out results (50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020) and we consume audio and voice.

Just think about what your company sounds like.

Lately, I have very interested in everything around voice and audio. I looked at how podcasting is rising in social media and, according to Google Trends, they are going almost hand-in-hand.

And I strongly believe companies that are starting to use audio content in their social media strategies will earn a lot of sympathy, awareness and also new clients in the future.

That’s why I have three reasons why audio will conquer social media in the near future.

The most intimate type of content

Think about how close you stay to a display (desktop, tablet or phone) to consume visual content. Now, think about how close you are to audio content. Unless you are listening to speakers, you are using headsets that are the most intimate devices you use. And that’s why audio consumers love to spread the word about podcasts, because they feel like they’re part of this type of content.

According to this research, 96 percent of people said they had recommended a podcast to friend.

And here comes the power of word of mouth. That’s why social media grew so big—because word-of-mouth advertising was involved.

When Seth Godin was interviewed in Everyone Hates Marketers, he said, “If you think about how you heard about Facebook or Twitter, you didn’t hear about it from advertising. You heard about it from people who benefited if you started using it, too.“

And here’s the power of audio content in social media. People are talking about podcasting because they heard information about a certain topic, and they will recommend specific shows just because they received specific value from them.

Also, people will search for answers using their own voices. “People will use their voice more often to get an answer, using products like Amazon Echo, Google Home or just their personal mobile phones. There is a trend where audio will be more searchable,” said Louis Granier when I asked him about audio in social media.

And now think about the power of content where you introduce the element of word of mouth and also the element of searchability. That’s why audio will play an important role in the entire digital media world.

Content that can be consumed passively

I was aware of the power of audio content when I saw my personal habit: Every time I start cleaning my house, going for a walk or traveling alone, I download some podcasts and listen to them while I’m doing something else.

According to the latest research, 69 percent of podcast listeners are engaging with the content while they are on the go (driving a vehicle, gym, public transportation, etc.).

As Granier said, “People are getting very busy every day, and there are a ton of things to do. That’s why when they drive their car, go to the gym or go shopping, they want to save as much time as possible. People are multitasking for everything now.”

So, audio will give you the chance to stay updated with the latest news while you are going to the gym, find an answer for a question you are looking for just by using your voice while you are driving or be entertained while you are working at your desk.

As Gary Vaynerchuk said at a conference dedicated to the audio and voice topic, “Texting and driving is scary. Voice fixes that.”

In conclusion, voice and audio allow people to multitask seamlessly and effortlessly.

Top social networks are embracing audio

More and more top social networks are embracing audio content and integrating it into their platforms. For example, Facebook Stories will launch a feature in which you can share a voice message if you are camera-shy. And Instagram is giving you the opportunity to share your favorite artists from Spotify to Stories.

Also, there is a platform that is democratizing the creation and distribution of audio content: Anchor.fm. Now it’s easier than ever to create, distribute and submit to iTunes, Google Play Music, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Android Audio or Spotify. All you have to do is create an account, record your first episode on your phone or upload it through desktop and publish it. Then, you are ready, and you can share it easily on your favorite social media platforms.

More and more social networks and platforms are leveraging audio content so that more people can create and consume the type of content they want to. If you want to create ephemeral visual content, you can go on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook, if you want videos, you can go on YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo. If you text, you can go on Medium, Reddit or Quora. And if you want audio content, you can go on Anchor.fm, Spotify or SoundCloud.

Robert Katai is a visual marketer and brand evangelist for online banner creator Bannersnack.