As of 2022, there are approximately 3.96 bn social media users around the world, up from 2.5 bn users in 2017. Ever since social audio platforms were introduced in the metaverse, social media networking took a drastic new turn. Users adopted the new form of communication with immense zeal. The ease of talking, without the requirement of any fancy equipment, cutting across geographies, and across a diverse range of topics are a few of the key reasons the trajectory of this adoption has only gone up.
The pandemic has as it is been driving technology forward, allowing it to reach users sooner than expected. With the use of video conferencing and social media platforms, almost all commerce is conducted online. The most recent addition to this list is online events, and social audio has the ability to make an effect in this live online environment. A renowned music distribution label in India recently staged an event on an audio social networking platform that drew over 16,000 people.
Let’s look at a list of trends that will continue to disrupt the social audio space this year:
The Feed ‘Without Filters’ Takes Over
Social media networking will cease to be only about being superfluous, attention-seeking, and triggering. Creators and brands are ditching the flawlessly manicured feed aesthetic in favour of sharing less filtered, more in-the-moment material. This tendency coincides with the increase of authenticity in recent years, which has resulted in a change in the sort of social media information shared. We anticipate that in 2022, brands and creators will spend less time perfecting their image and more time cultivating deeper relationships with their audience. And social audio will play a key role in bringing about this change. For example, earlier, users would focus on posting pictures or videos portraying a perfect lifestyle. Audio conversations on the other hand are life-like. Users indulge in the same to connect on a mutual topic of interest or just share their views about an area of their interest. There is no pressure for showcasing a specific kind of backdrop, outfit, or prop. This practice will continue in the coming days, making social media content more genuine, humane, and healthy.
Brands get movable on social audio
About 37% of shoppers ages 15-22 used the “buy” button on social media, and 30% purchased something from a shoppable social media story. Forward-looking brands understand that staying relevant means being present where the users are. And as users keep enjoying the audio format of social networking, brands will be sure to follow. Asynchronous podcasting, open house Q&As, interviews, or event verbal chatbots are a few innovative tools to build a first-hand connection with customers. This would usher in a new era of personalised customer experience, building long-term equity for the brand. Frontrunners that leverage this shift, will have an edge in their marketing curve early on.
The rise of ‘audio creators’
A new category of content translates into a new category of influencers. Voice artists have long been known for their expertise, be it in radio or voice-overs for various AVs. But how many of us can register and identify voices and associate them to the artist it belongs to? Social audio has now brought audio creators the time to truly unleash their potential, build their brands, and be known across the globe. This will eventually take up a significant share in the pie of the creator economy. With more consumers turning away from their televisions to spend more time online, brands must reassess their social media strategy, as their approach to social media marketing must match customer behaviour.
By encouraging users with monetary rewards and offering professional development programmes for budding talents, social media has played a significant role in promoting the creator economy.
Mushrooming niche communities
Social audio primarily got its craze from having the ability to bring people of similar interests under one room or one station. Hence, a set of individuals who are keen to discuss cryptocurrencies, blockchain or metaverse a can share their thoughts on conversations about these topics. Similarly, there would be topics around agriculture or cuisines or entertainment and users are free to choose conversations basis their interests and thereby build a niche community of their own. This can be the future to multiple aspects like focus-group discussions, awareness-building programs, and so on, helping like-minded people build long-term, mutually-profitable bonds.
The human voice has a warm and appealing quality to it. Social audio has only started unfurling its wings right now. It still has to make a long flight to realise its full potential of revolutionising the social media networking segment. Better control on content moderation, deployment of intuitive technology to translate languages, accurate tools to measure analytics, etc. is a few of the immediate amends required for the same to happen. But the process has surely started with multiple eyes stuck to it, to see the course it takes.
The article has been authored by Sudha K Varadarajan, Co-Founder & CEO, Swell.
Sudha and Arish Ali launched Swell at SXSW in 2021. It was also the first asynchronous social audio platform that launched in India mid-last year, understanding the pre-requisites of human, healthy, and authentic voice-based conversations. After deeply recognizing users’ feedback and insights for a year, the launch of a version upgrade Swell 3.0 that offers the best user experience is all set to unravel.
Here’s the link to download the app.