Photo Credit: pexel
As the internet continues to evolve, so too does the world of social media. We’ve already moved from a text-based social media paradigm to one ruled by photos and videos. And now we could be on the cusp of yet another paradigm shift, as we head into a brave new world of “audio social.” Quite simply, the future of social media will be heard, not seen.
Welcome to the club(house)
The earliest iteration of audio social content, of course, was the humble podcast. And now there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of popular podcasts that you can find on all manner of platforms, ranging from Stitcher and Podbean to iTunes and Spotify. But the innovation that seems to be pushing forward the future of audio social is the launch of the “audio rooms” concept popularized by the up-and-coming app Clubhouse. Once you get an invite to use Clubhouse, you can roam from room to room, looking for interesting audio events to attend. There are hosts and there are attendees, and the choice of topic can be just about anything you’d like.
The Clubhouse concept of audio rooms has been so popular, in fact, that all the big-name social media companies out there are now rushing to debut their own products. First, there was the announcement that Twitter was working on a Clubhouse competitor. Not to be outdone, Facebook also announced that it was working on a Clubhouse-like product. And now comes word that LinkedIn is also working on an audio rooms offering that will look and feel a lot like Clubhouse.
LinkedIn does audio social
Thus far, the LinkedIn offering is still in early testing and development stages. In fact, the company didn’t even acknowledge that it was working on this until an enterprising software developer discovered the back-end code while working on a project for the LinkedIn app. LinkedIn has subsequently provided a quick mock-up of what the new audio social offering will look like. One sample shows an audio room for “Work Life Balance” and features a few speakers and nearly 200 listeners. The UI, without a doubt, looks and feels like Clubhouse, and so it’s easy to imagine a few options for where LinkedIn might take this.
The slam-dunk option, of course, is the launch of new audio rooms for professionals. LinkedIn might start with broad, generic categories like “Work Life Balance” and from there move into more specialized niches, industries or categories. Advertising and marketing professionals, no doubt, will soon have audio rooms of their own, as will finance industry professionals. If you’re looking for a new job on LinkedIn, wouldn’t it be great to connect with people having the exact same career ambitions and goals? And to network with others who might help you land that job?
Thus far, the results seem to be encouraging. LinkedIn says that it has seen a nearly 50% spike in engagement from this new audio content, measured in terms of shares, posts and conversations. In short, if a regular LinkedIn post gets 1 share or post, then an enhanced audio post gets 1.5 shares or posts. That could be a huge win for engagement across the LinkedIn platform.
What happens when the pandemic ends?
Of course, you could argue that the remarkable success of Clubhouse and its growing number of social media rivals is simply due to the new reality of the pandemic. In a world where we can’t attend conferences, exhibitions and trade shows in person, doesn’t it make sense that we’d find a digital equivalent? Just as the breakout success of Zoom was largely the result of the pandemic, couldn’t it be the case that the initial success of Clubhouse was also due to the pandemic? Once things get back to normal (fingers crossed!), will people still want to hang out online if they can attend events in real life instead? That being said, the concept of “audio social” is new enough and enticing enough that it’s easy to see how this could be the next big pivot for social media platforms looking to sign up new users and boost engagement across the board.