The Facebook "status update" is over. Years ago, the site required "is" to be part of a status. So, my current status might be "Juli Durante is writing a blog". Now, you can post anything in an update. And we call them updates, not status updates. Many social sites have become less about what you're doing and more about what you're sharing. On a personal level, there's a need to make yourself valuable to friends and colleagues. On a brand level, making your updates important to others is critical.
This change has been central in the shift from written updates to multimedia content for social media. Most brands include more images in their posts than every before, and many brands are posting images as their primary social content. The number of brands on Instagram has skyrocketed. Don't believe me? Check out Starbucks, MTV, and Burberry, just to name a few. Right now, it seems like visual content is king...but is there a shift waiting to happen? Is there a place for audio in the social media world?
The Growth of Videos
YouTube is, and has been for years, the second most popular search engine. You could never, in your entire lifetime, watch all of the videos on the site. People love videos. They gobble them up, spoof them, meme them, and more. Video is the first step in the transition to multimedia content. Internet video has arrived... but it's also problematic.
The problem with online videos
Videos, and visual content more generally, require user investment. If I'm watching a video, I have to watch it. It's the only thing I can do at that point in time. It's very difficult to watch a video while responding to an email. It's even more difficult to watch a video (especially a funny one) while reading a blog. Videos can't be multitasked. For that matter, neither can images.
Not surprisingly, many are predicting that audio is the web's next big hurdle. Before HTML5, it could be difficult to incorporate audio online. Now, it's as simple as learning one HTML element.
But if that's more than you're willing to commit, there's an even easier way to add audio to your website: audio sharing and hosting websites. The most popular is SoundCloud - You can think of it as the audio equivalent of YouTube. CEO Alexander Ljung sees sound as the next big web movement. He identifies sound as a very human element - the thing that makes interaction authentic and interesting. And because we seek human contact, our silent web world is starting to become "unmuted"--quickly.
Audio's potential power is twofold - We can absorb sound passively, while completing other tasks. But we're also deeply connected with sound on a personal, human level. Voice is especially powerful. When we hear a voice we connect to and identify with, any message is amplified.
Tips for using audio on social media
- Use a sharing site, like SoundCloud. If you link to files hosted on SoundCloud on Facebook or Twitter, people will be able to play the clip without leaving the site (the same way that they can play a YouTube video)
- Start with a powerful message. Your social media audio success is only as strong as the story you're telling. What do you fans and followers identify with? Try using sound as a storytelling platform instead of just a promotional device.
- Use a great recording. Listening to low quality audio can be difficult in more ways than one. Always record in a quiet room with the best quality microphone you can get your hands on. A smartphone app will work, but if you're going to make recording audio a regular event, then investing in better equipment. You can check out our Professional Recording Tips for help.
- Mix it up - just voice can get a little dull. Consider a combination of voice, music, and sound effects for a dynamic program.