New to social audio? Here is what it’s like.

Is social audio a bunch of mouths talking courtesy Palbo on Flickr Creative Commons

Social audio is booming, but what is it like to participate, and does it make sense for your destination marketing? Photo courtesy Palbo on Flickr Creative Commons, in Raspail-Montparnasse, Paris, Île-de-France.

We’ve been hearing about social audio, so we decided to try it out.

Stop! 🛑

Before we go any further, remember what we say about “shiny object syndrome” and new social media channels…

The questions to always ask yourself first are:

1)  Is my audience, are my markets, on this platform in significant numbers, and

2)  Do I have the time and resources to do this well? What must I stop doing to spend more time and resources on this new thing?

No matter what else you do, claim your brand name on a new social platform (you can say in the bio that it’s an inactive account.)

To figure things out without face-planting on your brand account, do your experimenting on a personal account first.

So, to continue with our first impressions…

It may change after we publish this, but as of now, the primary social audio platforms are:

  •  The Clubhouse app
  •  Twitter Spaces on Twitter (you need 600 or more Twitter followers to host your own space/discussion, but anyone on Twitter can join an active space.)
  •  Facebook Live Audio Rooms (still rolling out to users)
  •  Spotify’s Greenroom (formerly Locker Room)

To start understanding how it works, we recently joined a social audio event on Twitter Spaces – “Sunday Brunch” with the editors and publishers of U.S. travel stories newsletter The Statesider. The space was hosted by travel photographer Kirsten Alana.

We’ll show you a series of screenshots, with some explanations in the captions.

Here is what it looked like right when we joined, using an Android OS phone (you do need to be on a mobile device.)

 

Screenshot Twitter Spaces on Android beginning of event

Screenshot of the beginning of The Statesider Twitter Spaces event on an Android OS phone. Those with Host and Speaker roles have microphone controls; Listeners are automatically muted and must request to speak by tapping the microphone at bottom left that says “Request.” It can be a little confusing if you’re used to the Zoom microphone icon in that spot, which you tap to mute/unmute yourself on Zoom. In this case, you’d be tapping to request to the Host to speak. You’re already muted.

 

When we joined the event, voices started coming out through our phone speaker. It was like being on a conference call, but only the Host and Speakers were actually talking.

This is part of the appeal of social audio, similar to podcasts – you can simply sit and listen, or listen while doing something else.

Next we found that the dropdown arrow on the upper left allows you to mostly minimize the little heads down to the bottom. Particularly in Twitter Spaces, this lets you see tweets and tweet yourself while the voices keep going from Spaces, but they aren’t taking up your screen.

Here is what it looked like with participants minimized, and seeing a tweet above the minimize box. Note that the tweet includes the chat hashtag, #StatesiderChat. This makes sense; Twitter Spaces is integrated with Twitter, and hashtagged chats are standard Twitter activity.

Related – Our list of travel and tourism Twitter chats

 

Screenshot Twitter Spaces on Android conversation minimized

The voices still come through even when you’re in minimized mode with everything pushed down to the bottom of the phone screen. Tap in the minimized box below the red arrow, and all the participants will pop back up to fill your screen and return you to full screen mode.

 

If as a participant you are not ready to talk, or the Host isn’t ready to let you talk, how do you signal what you’re thinking about the conversation?

Emojis (in Twitter Spaces, not Clubhouse – yet.)

When in full screen mode in Twitter Spaces, the “heart plus” symbol at bottom brings up a few emojis. When you tap them, they pop up in your avatar for a few seconds, providing a visual participation signal, like Hello or laughter or Yes!

 

Screenshot Twitter Spaces on Android showing emoji options you can use in convo

Show your reactions by tapping emojis in a Twitter Spaces event, from the “heart plus” button. The emojis pop up briefly over your avatar, allowing visual feedback to the group even though you may be muted.

 

At this point, maybe you’ve been in the audio discussion for awhile, are feeling more comfortable, and want to invite others to join.

How do you do that?

The easiest way for us to do it, at least in Twitter Spaces, was to find a link by clicking the Twitter avatar of the host, Kirsten Alana. Her profile avatar had a purple ring around it that indicated that a live chat was going on, and it gave us a social audio chat link we could share.

 

Screenshot Twitter Spaces on Android host avatar indicates live Spaces event in progress

Trying to find a chat URL link to share to get others to join a live social audio event can be a challenge. In Twitter Spaces, we used the purple ring around the Host’s account avatar, which she mentioned a few times during the event or we probably wouldn’t have figured it out.

 

As the #StatesiderChat discussion continued, we noticed some dots appearing about halfway down the screen.

It’s called the “nest” and it’s where the chat Host can pin related tweets. You swipe left and right to see them.

 

Screenshot Twitter Spaces on Android including saved related tweets in nest

Screenshot of Twitter Spaces on an Android OS phone including saved related tweets in the nest (the dots.)

 

If you don’t spend that much time on Twitter, it may be easier to stay in the chat room rather than toggle back and forth between the room and “main Twitter.” It’s certainly less distracting, and you’ll pay more attention to the vocal discussion.

Note that since this is a relatively new part of Twitter, changes happen all the time. As we were writing this, Twitter announced:

(We retweeted this info as soon as we saw it – are you following Tourism Currents on Twitter? We’ll help you keep up with trends and tips.)

 

What is Clubhouse like?

 

We’ve only dropped into a few Clubhouse discussions. This is what the screen looks like on an Android phone:

 

Screenshot of Clubhouse on an Android phone

Inside an active room on Clubhouse. Hallway is basically your feed. The hand on bottom right is to ask to speak, the + sign allows you to ping your Clubhouse connections to invite them join you in that room, and “Leave quietly” means exactly that – leave the room without any fuss. The paper-airplane-looking button is Backchannel for chat and messaging functions.

 

The Clubhouse app is available for both the iPhone and Android OS, and as of July 2021 it is no longer invitation-only.

There are a lot of similarities between Spaces and Clubhouse, so it’s not difficult to feel reasonably comfortable with both once you’ve experimented with one of them.

When you’re in the Clubhouse app on the homepage, you can see “rooms” that are currently active. The magnifying glass on the homepage is to Explore other rooms and “clubs” (groups of people interested in a particular topic.)

We did not find a particularly robust club related to tourism marketing, but we did find an account for Switzerland Tourism.

The primary difference between Spaces and Clubhouse is that right now, it seems easier to find current and upcoming conversations on Clubhouse, and to hold social audio events with lots of people. Spaces seems more intimate, and of course it is integrated with Twitter, whereas Clubhouse is a standalone app.

 

What about social audio for tourism marketing?

 

We asked our go-to expert on podcasting and social audioJennifer Navarrete from Brewing Media and @epodcaster on Twitter, what advice she’d give a destination marketing organization about all this.

She rightly pointed out that social media platforms are always rolling out new features, whether it’s an original idea or copied from another business (like Instagram’s Reels videos with music are an effort to copy TikTok.) Those who jump on a new feature effectively can get some traction.

Using Facebook as an example of this, she says,

“When Facebook launches something brand new, they will push all of that new type of content to the top [of people’s News Feed.] Remember when live video first came on the scene? The stats for live video were impressive in those early days. The fact is that Facebook’s desire to see it succeed right out of the gate was a boon for anyone who created live videos.

The same is true for Instagram’s Reels, and now Twitter Spaces. Eventually, this new feature will be old hat, and another new trend or feature will dominate the news and attention. However, there is what I consider to be a honeymoon stage, where the platform wants their new baby to succeed. We want to be visible to more of our ideal customers, visitors, etc., so leverage this sweet spot of opportunity by creating the exact content the social media platform wants to succeed.”

Here is her specific advice for destination marketers:

“What type of social audio content could a CVB or DMO create? Consider adding social audio as an after-party for existing chats on Twitter, or as post-conference discussions. Have a big event coming up? Create social audio rooms on Clubhouse and hold AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions.

Is your audience sports-based? Spotify’s Greenroom has a solid sports community from the original Locker Room app. There are also many independent social audio platforms such as Hotline, Angle, Fireside, and more.

Given that time and resources are finite, I recommend spending time where you already have an engaged following. Doing so makes growing your social audio following easier. If you are jumping onto a new platform, be sure the type of folks you want to attract are there, too. Be prepared to spend time developing your following and community on the new platform.

As a 16-year podcaster, I think we all have a mission and message to share with the world, and audio is a great way to do it.”

We hope you liked this quick tour of the growing social audio scene. Use the Share buttons below to share these tips with your tourism partners and destination marketing friends, and leave a comment if you have thoughts or questions.

We are fully vaccinated and ready to help you with social media and digital marketing training as travel rebounds.

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