The excitement over social audio is palpable, judging by the number of companies building out apps or features to support it, and by the number of news reports and opinion columns covering it. But marketers that are active on social media are weighing the drawbacks of entering social audio right now.
Here are some key issues:
- Social (in all its form) is an issue
For all its growth in recent months, Clubhouse had just 12.2 million downloads worldwide through March 9, 2021, per App Annie. There’s no guarantee the app will remain as red-hot as it was in February: It was already starting to show signs of cooling down last month, per Sensor Tower. Other buzzy social apps before it-Vine, to name one-have followed a similar hockey-stick trajectory before sliding back down.
Absolute size, as well as other dimensions of scale, will be a major factor for marketers to consider. For now, social audio is a fraction of the size of social networking or podcasting.
Another challenge is usage frequency and time spent. Will the average consumer spend significant time listening to social audio. Such activity is far more time-consuming and attention-focused than absently thumbing through a feed to kill a few minutes of time.
- Early marketing efforts may see only a small payoff
Marketers shouldn’t enter social audio in 2021 with the idea of generating a massive return. For one, the environment isn’t conducive to doing anything splashy. And given the challenges with scale described above, the end results may be spotty at best.
While it’s as easy as tapping a button on a phone screen to start an audio room, it’s not so easy to make it successful.
- There are brand safety concerns
Even if conversations are moderated, there is no way to know what someone is going to say when they go live. The spontaneity has strong appeal, but being live is a nervous place for brands to play because it is very easy for that to go very wrong. If a brand sponsors show up in a room, and somehow something happens in that room, the brand will take the heat for not speaking up or doing something.
Another issue is creating a safe space. Bullying and other negative behavior have taken place in rooms, which can reflect poorly on brands. While social listening remains a challenge in social audio, catching instances of bad behavior will be up to the users.