While intimate entertainment experiences in their own right, podcasts inherently lack a level of audience interactivity and social connectivity. Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms and podcast integrations offer a way to change that.
Designed as a Clubhouse competitor, Facebook’s new Audio Rooms feature circular profile pictures, active speaker highlights, reactions, and a virtual front row reserved for paying audience members. Hosts have the ability to pre-select fellow speakers or bring members of the audience up to the panel. Audio Rooms incorporate live captions, as well as a hand-raise function. Users can join active Audio Rooms or set reminders for scheduled events, similar to the pre-established webinar format. Capitalizing on the new wave of social media activism, Live Audio Room organizers have the ability to feature a specific donation cause and display a progress bar throughout the event.
Unlike Clubhouse, whose brand centers around exclusivity and access codes, Facebook Live Audio Rooms will soon be available to all Facebook users—2.85 billion active monthly users at the time of publishing. That’s a big pool of potential audience members.
Traditional podcasts are planned, recorded, and edited in advance. Live audio events take away that buffer—which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective—and open up space for a potentially more authentic experience for your audience. Live audio events enable speakers to engage an audience, without the extra pressure of being on camera. We’re on Zoom long enough, there is no need to film ourselves more.
Podcasters can take advantage of Live Audio Rooms to strike up a conversation with their guests and audience about a recent episode, topics that didn’t make the final cut, current events, or even use the function as a live podcast recording.
However, if you prefer to stick with pre-recorded audio content, Facebook offers Soundbites and a new podcast integration. Soundbites are marketed as “short-form, creative audio clips for capturing anecdotes, jokes, moments of inspiration, poems, and many other things we haven’t yet imagined.” Users will be able to record, edit, and publish short audio clips, all in-app. Soundbites is currently under development and will be released later this year.
Facebook’s podcast integration is potentially the most relevant update for current podcasters. Podcasts will be streamed through Facebook via RSS feed, allowing users to discover, interact with, and listen to podcasts and creators, all without leaving the Facebook app. This streaming method enables podcasters to continue individually tracking listening metrics. According to Facebook’s Podcast Terms of Service, by using Facebook’s podcast service, creators agree to the caching and production of “derivative works.” One can assume this refers to Facebook-generated promotional content and Soundbites, however this is left unclear.
So what does this mean for podcasters? All these new services and features offer a more direct way for audio to become a social experience. As Audio Rooms, Soundbites, and podcasts will be curated and highlighted in users’ existing feeds, it will be easier than ever for Facebook users to discover and interact with new audio content.
The live aspect of audio rooms means speakers will receive immediate feedback on their content. This can be used as an experimental and/or rehearsal space. Podcasters can test out new formats, topics, and guests, all from the comfort of the Facebook app. Audio Rooms can also be a way of sharing current, well-performing content in new, accessible ways.
Clubhouse and other podcast apps are sometimes overwhelming for users, who exit before finding the right audio experience for them. Podcasters can harness the power of Facebook’s algorithm first-hand to reach audiences on one of the largest social networks in the world. Marketing and outreach will still be important, but it can be done in-app, rather than through extraneous third-party methods.
Not all podcast listeners use Facebook and not all Facebook users listen to podcasts. Maximize your reach by interacting and creating for both spaces. Facebook’s new audio features and functions will be rolled out to established creators and groups, with their general user base coming soon.
Here at Random, we push our creative and comfort zones to create the best content we can. And so can you. Try out Facebook’s new audio features for your podcast to tap into new levels of social and community interaction.
But don’t do it all alone. Are you ready for some podcast support? Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org