Adopting Social Audio Apps: Using Voice to Lead Your Brand
It’s no surprise that brands are hopping on the social audio trend; the surge of Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and Discord Stages have driven marketers to turn on their mics and leverage audio content.
Looking at the rapid growth of these platforms (and more like them sure to come in the near future), you can use this guide to evaluate how your community and brand story could benefit from social audio.
The Surge of Social Audio
eMarketer data shows the average monthly installs of Clubhouse have grown tremendously from September 2020 to March 2021, with a massive surge in February 2021 at 10,100 monthly installs.
According to Fast Company, in January 2021, Clubhouse hit a record number of total installs at 6,700,000. These numbers are expected to see a massive uptick in May and April as Clubhouse introduces an Android beta version of its app.
Similarly, Twitter is recording record usage of their Spaces platform now that the platform has expanded access to anyone with 600+ followers — with a handful of features on the horizon like Spaces tickets, reminders, easy-join capabilities from the homepage timeline, and more.
The growing adoption of these platforms is a firm reminder to marketers that the age of audio content has arrived during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s here to stay.
Social Audio Platforms to Consider
Clubhouse is the leading social audio platform at the moment, launched in April 2020. It is an invite-only social media app (available on iOS and now on Android) that lets users discuss topics in audio-only rooms.
If you’re not familiar with the platform, rooms are either hosted by clubs, which are a collection of users that focus around a single topic, or users themselves, and in each room, you’re either labeled a moderator, speaker, or listener.
Moderators oversee the room discussion and can manage users in the audio call, speakers are allowed to speak in the room, and listeners are muted but have free reign to listen to the conversation and connect with speakers and other listeners.
Brands & Clubhouse
CMOs are now taking full advantage of Clubhouse, leveraging influencer content to create engaging communities. This past February, Pernod Richard cognac Martell joined global creator, Karen Civil, to celebrate black female entrepreneurs during Black History Month. Throughout the month, they hosted weekly Clubhouse rooms with special guests like Supa Cent, founder of The Crayon Case, Jennifer Lyle, CEO of Lush Yummies Pie, and more.
How do I get a Clubhouse Invite?
The best way to get full access to Clubhouse is to ask your network who has open invites (the average user gets 6-7 invites). Check with your friends if they have any invites that have yet to be redeemed or take to social media, which will get you better reach. You can also set up your account to request access; if your friend sees your username in their address book, they can invite you into the platform.
You can use this comprehensive guide to help you become an expert Clubhouse expert. Once you’ve gotten comfortable navigating the app and how Clubs and Rooms operate, the options for brands and companies within Clubhouse are pretty limitless.
The emphasis is still on curating good conversation and connections, but try using it to organize panel discussions with VIP clients or influencers in your industry, to bolster your content marketing, or to host AMA or Q&A sessions with experts.
Twitter Spaces launched in November 2020 and is only available within the iOS and Android Twitter app. It functions similarly to Clubhouse, allowing users to host and join live audio chats, called Spaces, but with the convenience of being built into Twitter for its huge user base.
Hosts can moderate all users within their Space, speakers can join the discussion by requesting to speak by tapping the Request icon below the mic, and listeners can listen in on the conversation, react via emoji, and connect (follow and DM) with speakers and other listeners.
Brands & Spaces
There’s real value for brands in Twitter Spaces. Although the feature is still in beta, marketers and brands can use their company’s built-in Twitter audience to create impactful audio-only content and community — including niche group discussions, 1:1 interviews, and even live podcasts. It shouldn’t be too long before we see big brands like Nike and Netflix holding regular audio meet-ups.
Don’t have access yet? Don’t worry, user access is rolling out (slowly) and eventually, everyone will have access to Spaces. Currently, Twitter users with 600+ followers have access, but if you still don’t see Spaces in the app, try redownloading the app and have plenty of patience.
Here’s a handy Twitter Spaces getting started guide for novice and expert Twitter users alike to get oriented to Spaces.
Discord Stage Channels
Discord, an invite-only community messaging platform, is the newest kid on the Social Audio block, having launched Stage Channels in March 2021. It allows users to host audio-centric events on community “servers” (if you’re not familiar with Discord servers – think of channels on Slack), allowing for focused conversations with a full audience of listeners.
In each stage, there are moderators that can manage speakers and listeners, speakers who are audience members that can ‘raise their hand’ if they want to speak, and listening audience members. Very similar to Clubhouse and Spaces, but with an appeal to Millennial and Gen Z users, creators, gamers, and more.
Brands & Discord Stage Channels
While beta access is still rolling out across Discord for Stage Channels, brands can start adopting this new feature within the platform to target their Gen Z audience.
According to Discord Product Manager Rick Ling, Stage Channels are a hit so far, and the company realized that events can be a gateway to introduce new users to the communities at the heart of the platform. Ling even dropped a mention that their new Stage Channels discovery feature will launch with exclusive partners, like Canadian musician, Grimes.
Not seeing access to Stage Channels? Since this feature is only available on community servers, you might need to update your settings. Follow this helpful resource to get started.
If you’re new to Stage Channels and looking for a more complete guide and introduction, here’s a great breakdown for you.
Making a Case for Your Brand
Social audio platforms can be an exciting addition to your brand’s content strategy, especially when you consider the potential reach with Clubhouse’s 10 Million weekly active users.
To evaluate if your marketing strategy should include Social Audio, and which platform you should adopt, perform a comprehensive content audit first. Identify the potential marketing and sales opportunities that social audio can fill, such as brand engagement through thought leadership and influencer sponsorships.
Test out each platform to choose which is best for your brand. Nearly every brand can adopt social audio to further their content and build community, from local restaurants sharing cooking tips and food recommendations to global organizations hosting live panels.
Social audio is an emerging opportunity for marketers to use voice to lead their brands and bolster their content in an all-new format for their audiences.
As more and more audio platforms are created, either as standalone apps or features on pre-existing social apps, the adoption of audio will increase, and the static blog may very well be a thing of the past. Brands will need to stay on top of this trend and make a plan forward on how to capitalize on this new content format.
Pat Cooper is the Product Manager at cybersecurity publication, Threatpost, and President-Elect at the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association. For over six years, he has led high-impact sales and marketing campaigns at agencies nationwide. He is also the host of It Gets Personal with Pat Cooper, available everywhere you find podcasts. Connect with him today on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at patbcooper.com.