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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Are TikTok and Other New Channels Too Transient to Track?

TikTok has now become a focal point of cross-generational dialogues, pop culture references, and regular use, with over 1 billion users worldwide, including 105 million in North America.

It's no surprise that our dopamine-fueled minds have created a slew of accounts. However, TikTok would not have gotten to the top if our impulses were the only reason.

TikTok's user base increased by 800 percent from 2018 to 2020. Its "it factor," as defined by Nielson research from 2021 - a unique ability to inspire belonging, community, and authenticity – is outperforming current tech giants, which are attempting to copy its design.

However, the distinctive, essential features that spur opportunities to share information – for example, fast videos, shareable music, catchy hooks, and creative audio overlays – have caused a new challenge for brands, public figures, celebrities, and influencers gaining in popularity: how, and by which measures and comparisons, can you track success when the content itself is rather transient?

The emergence of social listening technologies

Many software businesses outside of the platforms have previously attempted to address the difficulty of tracking social success outside of in-platform data. And they have achieved it, to some extent.

Innovations in social listening technologies have helped customers comprehend how their profile or brand may be first in the digital landscape - the algorithms scan captions, evaluate user activity, track performance metrics, and even aggregate user sentiment focusing on all of this wrapped up in a package that you can derive great value from.

After that, came audio content.

“Audio presents a fundamentally different set of challenges for moderation than text-based communication." Clint Smith, Discord's chief legal officer, said, "It's more ephemeral, and it's harder to research and action." He was referring to the channel's moderation difficulties over their new Stage Channels audio functionality.

The entire technology stack of audio-based social channels – TikTok, Instagram's Reels, Clubhouse, and Discord's Stage Channels – has only recently begun internal research into tracking solutions, although audio content moderation tools trail well behind social listening capabilities for text-based conversations.

Although some external firms are working on speech analysis APIs, there is currently no standardized solution to audio chats online.

Audio moderation issues

As a result, social platforms, their users, and their tech integrations lack a robust tracking system, especially when it comes to dealing with inappropriate speech or harassment. Platforms will frequently resort to barring users over anything in these situations, which presents its own set of accessibility concerns.

"Twitter keeps Spaces audio for 30 days or longer if there is an incident," according to Reuters, "Clubhouse says it deletes its recording if a live session ends without an immediate user report, and Discord does not record at all."

Handling and monitoring any text or image-based commentary, much less harmful online comments, is a difficult task for humans to begin with. Yet this type of work has its title, and that is the Community Manager.

But what about handling inappropriate mentions, crisis periods, or unpleasant health events in ephemeral audio conversations? In this way, job opportunities are quite plentiful.

Furthermore, even if platforms add more internal monitoring criteria tomorrow, users and companies will still be on their own to manage their own material.

Users, influencers, and brands who want to manage content and social listening on audio platforms face three challenges:

  • Audio content is more transitory than textual stuff by default. You might be able to transcribe something, but you won't get any additional cues, such as the video's visual signals or accompanying text remarks.

  • Few IT businesses provide APIs for emerging social apps like TikTok and Discord to listen to audio. The ones that do are still in the testing stage.

  • Even if brands wished to manually track audio, most don't have the manpower, resources, or time to do so.

As platforms like TikTok expand and adapt, these general audio content symptoms are expected to become more prominent.

However, while we battle with ephemerality and nuance, users should remember the advantages of audio material — audio is superior in its capacity to engage with an audience.

Podcasts have only been around for two decades, but billions of people listen to them every day. Insider Intelligence predicts 144 billion listeners in the United States alone by 2025.

Nevertheless, if you're more persuaded by TikTok's and other audio-based channels' unavoidable obstacles or their research-backed possibilities, there's a logical explanation for why so many people are participating. In that sense, the whole thing doesn't seem so bad from this perspective.

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