By Kaley Pigman
If you think audio is a dying industry, you’re wrong. Podcasts, audiobooks and exclusive live audio events have all seen major development, especially in the past year.
Podcasts have been around for a long time — since 2004, to be exact. While it’s not exactly an emerging market, podcasting has grown significantly over the past five years, and is expected to become a $1 billion industry this year. The explosion of true crime, news, and sports podcasting proves that people are still interested in audio, and major social media channels are picking up on the attention.
Facebook has rolled out a podcast platform where hosts can publish their episodes directly to Facebook and listeners can share episodes or short clips with friends. Meanwhile, Spotify and Apple Podcasts are in constant competition to be the most popular podcast app.
Needless to say, podcast advertising has become an important marketing tool. Much like influencer marketing, podcast listeners are happy to support brands that back their favorite hosts. According to Stitcher’s yearly report, 60% of listeners have bought something from a podcast ad.
Podcast ads are an especially effective way to increase brand awareness. Even if a listener doesn’t use your coupon code right away, your brand still gets exposed to thousands of listeners who are likely to be young and affluent, and may be interested in buying your product down the line.
Clubhouse launched in April, 2020 and immediately sparked a flurry of interest. In the beta stage, fewer than 1,500 people had access to the app, but even with so few users, Clubhouse was already valued at $100 million. Less than a year later, the exclusive app reached unicorn status with a valuation of $1 billion, and had consumers paying for a coveted invitation. But why?
Clubhouse is a live-audio app that allows industry leaders to speak to an audience all around the world about their experiences and expertise — kind of like a conference call with titans of industry. The audio is not recorded, so listeners feel as if they’re getting top-secret insider information. Speakers on the app include business and tech moguls like Mark Cuban and Bill Gates, as well as beloved entertainers like Ashton Kutcher and Tiffany Haddish. With such big names sharing valuable information, Clubhouse earned a spot as the 16th most downloaded social media app.
Clubhouse was never intended to be invite-only forever, and the app’s creators, Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, announced on July 21st that the app was officially available to everyone. Before this announcement, users capitalized on the clamor for invitations. In February 2021, as more people became aware of the app, users with extra invitations sold them on eBay for over $50.
Now that the app is out of beta and available to everyone, is the hype still there? Clubhouse opened its doors to everyone last month and saw a decrease in downloads in the United States, but a massive influx of new users internationally. Rooms are still filling up with over 16,000 listeners at a time, much like in the early days of the app.
For marketers, Clubhouse notably lacks a monetization model like other social media platforms, which may drive creators and advertisers away from the app. Still, you can create brand awareness by partnering with popular speakers in an influencer marketing model, or by joining industry-specific rooms and bringing up your product in the conversation.
Facebook Live Audio Rooms
Clubhouse clearly caught the eye of one social media giant; Facebook recently launched a live audio platform within their app. Not one to be outdone by new apps, Facebook is looking to replicate the success of Clubhouse while adding monetization options.
Mark Zuckerberg hosted the first Facebook Live Audio Room on June 15th, and the platform officially launched on June 21st. Much like Clubhouse, up to 50 speakers can host one room, and listeners can also “raise their hands” to ask a question. One major difference is that Facebook’s live audio rooms can hold an unlimited number of listeners, and listeners can purchase stars and other awards to gift to speakers they especially enjoy. When a speaker collects their quota of stars, Facebook will pay them from the creator fund.
Since Facebook is already so ingrained in digital marketing, this new feature could naturally be woven into many social media marketing plans. Similar to marketing on Clubhouse, brands should consider partnering with group admins or popular influencers to host discussions on their products or on the brands themselves. Brands could also take a page from podcast ads by sponsoring Live Audio Rooms and providing coupon codes exclusive to listeners.
Clearly, audio is going to be a key part of social media in 2021 and beyond, and your brand could reach massive audiences through both podcasts and live audio. With so many changes to the world of audio media, it’s a great time to start testing new marketing strategies that leverage various audio platforms.