The use of video live streaming has exploded in recent years. It is used by both individuals and brands who utilize live video streams to engage customers. But is there a place in the market for audio-only live streaming? Audio-only content certainly has its place in the form of podcasts, so why not live streaming? If you think this sounds like a good idea, then you are in luck. Twitter has just announced that it is rolling out an audio-only live streaming service. It will initially be launched on iOS, before later rolling out for Android devices.
Twitter isn’t actually the first social media service to introduce audio-only live streaming – the feature has been available on Facebook since 2016 as Live Audio. According to Richard Plom of video streaming app Periscope – which is owned by Twitter– audio-only live streaming has been a heavily requested feature on the platform. Some people still want to be heard and interact with others live, but may not be comfortable being on camera. Some Periscope users even resort to covering up the camera lens to achieve audio-only broadcasts.
Audio-only live streaming is, in effect, live podcasting. Like video streaming, podcasts have risen in popularity in recent years. According to the most recent research by Podcast Insights, 44 percent of the United States population has listened to a podcast – that’s 124 million people. Podcast listeners listen to an average of 7 different shows per week, while 16 million people in the U.S. would describe themselves as “avid podcast fans.”
Another interesting podcast statistic is that while 49 percent of podcast listening is done at home, 22 percent takes place in the car. Clearly, podcasts fit into an ideal space where people can’t or don’t want to watch video and prefer an audio experience. This has the potential to translate directly to audio-only live streaming and provides a very real opportunity for businesses and marketers to capitalize on this trend.
We’ve already made the comparison to podcasting, but in some ways, it would also be apt to draw a comparison to radio – a format that may not be as popular as it once was, but is still going strong, and is particularly popular with people on the move. The introduction of audio-only live streaming on Twitter and other social media sites provides brands and creators with the platform to be their own radio station, with the added benefit of audience statistics and interactive chat options that those platforms provide.
The Twitter launch of audio-only live streaming opens up possibilities for businesses and marketers – not only for direct marketing but also through influencer marketing. In a sense, audio-only streaming sets a lower barrier for entry, as creators who may not have been comfortable with video streaming may be more willing to put themselves out there in an audio-only environment, potentially creating a larger and more diverse pool of creators and influencers.
It is unlikely that audio-only live streaming will surpass video content – whether live or pre-recorded – in popularity and usage. However, the option for audio-only content on Twitter and other platforms is still relevant, and there is definitely a space for it in marketing content generation. Other recent examples of the desire to add audio options to social platforms include: Facebook’s recent testing of the ability to post status updates in the form of audio clips, and the business networking platform LinkedIn adding a similar functionality to its messaging tools.