Sofa Sessions - Audio

SofaSessions September 2021: Does social audio have a part to play in the marketing mix?

Welcome to our October SofaSession, we hope you’re sitting comfortably for our chat about the world of social audio.

Joining Engine Senior Strategist, David Blackett, is our team of specialists; Made by Mammas Podcaster, Georgia Dayton, Content Creator and Social Audio Strategist, Abraxas, Social-Audio Marketer, Jess Anastasi, and Global’s Product Director, Megan Wastell.

In the last 18 months the audience for social audio has grown substantially. Earlier this year, Facebook announced it’s expanding its partnership with Spotify and Clubhouse, Reddit Talk launched as a place for users to meet and chat and Clubhouse grew its user base from 2m to 10m subscribers. If that wasn’t enough Apple is introducing a paid subscription model for podcasting, and with 10.1m people in the UK tuning into podcasts each week there hasn’t been a better time to take a deep-dive into what this means for creators, brands and audiences.

The Social Audio Space

David started the session by asking our panel about what makes the social audio space different, and for Jess, it is all about the power of interacting with voice alone. Something Georgia agreed with: “if you're looking at visuals, there's a lot of noise… lots that can be missed”, whereas when you’re only listening, you’re much more engaged.

For Abraxas, who holds the title of Europe’s most-followed on Clubhouse, the app has created a new type of influencer – not just someone who is able to talk about a topic, but can moderate a discussion, and effectively guide a live conversation.

The strengths of each platform

The group then discussed how conversations on social audio can differ, based on the platform.

Jess described how Twitter Spaces have a limit of 13 people – so this is a place for casual chats between friends, whereas Clubhouse, with a capacity of 8,000 and rooms grouped around topics, offers the possibility of deep, intellectual conversations.

The panel thought that this is unlikely to change, despite the major social channels absorbing audio features. The type of conversation a user wants to engage with will dictate the platform they’d use.

Megan highlighted that measurement was another important difference – podcasts have a huge number of data points, with brand studies providing a deeper understanding on effectiveness. But for real-time live audio, Abraxas admits it is harder to give quantifiable stats currently, especially when it comes to the true benefits, building brand love and creating a memory connection that impacts future decision-making.

Where do brands fit in

Both Jess and Abraxas agreed that brands can add integrity to Clubhouse rooms – but it was important to partner with the right Clubhouse creator: “There needs to be brand alignment… a fit culturally”.

Brands need to work with a creator to figure out how they shape a discussion and tap into the right people in that community, because conversation is key – it needs to include those in the room; audiences on Clubhouse are not passive.

The opportunity for brands to connect with audiences via podcasts is huge – as Georgia shared: “3 in 5 podcast listeners perform an action based on information they’ve listened to.”

This is because podcasters are actively listening and are fully engaged with the hosts - there is an intimacy created through listening to someone each week. Ad reads or sponsorship messages can be done in a very organic and conversational way – so it becomes a recommendation from a friend in your ear.

The future of Social Audio

And as no panel would be complete without some predictions – what does the future hold for social audio?

Megan sees continued podcast growth through the value-extension offered by licensing IP into other industries, as seen with the TV adaption of Dirty John, and via acquisitions of production houses from platforms like Spotify, which will allow them to provide exclusive content to their communities.

Abraxas agreed, explaining how this will create an exclusivity war for native social audio influencer talent, attracting more talent and ultimately growing the space.

And while established social platforms would continue to add their own audio features and compete in this space, Clubhouse will remain competitive – with each platform garnering different audiences.

Overall, the panel thought that while it was likely audio would not replace other social activity, it will become a key part of the marketing mix as the space continues to grow and evolve.

Thank you to our brilliant panel and those who tuned in! Look out for details of the next SofaSession coming soon.