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  • Meerelle Cruz

Facebook Expands Live Audio Room Access and Adds a New Audio Tab

While the format appears to have lost some of its luster in the wake of Clubhouse's meteoric rise earlier this year, audio social still offers new engagement opportunities and alternative ways for people to connect, which can broaden your interactive options while also providing platforms with another way to keep users coming back.

Today, Facebook announced an extension of its audio social initiatives, including the addition of live audio rooms for public personalities around the world, as well as a new, dedicated section within the Watch tab to allow users to connect to all of the platform's many audio possibilities.

To begin, Facebook announced the first step of its audio social push in April, in response to increased interest in Clubhouse, which included the inclusion of audio rooms for public people in the United States. Facebook is now making the feature more widely available. All authenticated public figures and creators will be able to host Live Audio Rooms starting today. Facebook has seen it grow into a fantastic tool for connecting and converting many types of groups.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Facebook's Live Audio Rooms will appear at the top of the News Feed for people who follow each creator (even above Stories), and they'll also be available on the mobile app. The replay structure is Clubhouse-like, with separate parts for presenters and listeners, with Reactions icons floating up the screen as they're applied, akin to video live-streams.

Many more people will be able to listen to Facebook audio broadcasts as a result of the new expansion, while creation will still be limited to public personalities and those with verified accounts for the time being, which could be a better strategy. Part of the challenge that Clubhouse is now facing since opening up to all users is that presenting the greatest material to each user is challenging, given the constant influx of broadcasts into its system (Clubhouse is now up to 700k daily rooms). Many users have complained that the app has become increasingly busy, and if they can't find the finest rooms to tune into at any particular time, they'll eventually give up and stop using it.

Twitter is battling the same problem, adding topic tags to Spaces to increase discoverability and highlight the finest rooms for each user depending on their interests. Facebook may help to assure optimal take-up of the choice by restricting it to high-profile artists, while it can also serve as an instructional process by demonstrating to all users how to utilize the format, ideally helping to enhance the overall quality of its audio material.

On this front, Facebook has added a new, dedicated audio area to the Facebook Watch page, which will feature Spaces, podcasts, audio creators, and more. The new section will display all of Facebook's audio features, including its recently launched podcast listening choices, as shown here. Because it's hidden under Facebook Watch, it's unlikely to get a lot of attention (you can't 'watch' audio), but for individuals seeking audio material at any given time, there'll now be a dedicated location for audio discovery in various forms, which might help audio creators get more visibility.

All Facebook groups will now be able to host live audio rooms, which is another strategy to increase interest in the option in a more constrained, specialized context. The approach will also aid in discovery by allowing users to search for audio rooms within the group's tab, allowing them to listen to all of their group audio possibilities.

Again, by limiting the option to popular personalities and within groups, Facebook can help with discovery difficulties, as the audio content users are offered will originate from celebrities they follow or organizations they belong to. This additional information could help to increase interest in the choice and make Facebook's audio tools a more tempting prospect.

Facebook is also experimenting with live audio rooms on Android and desktop, as well as its 'Soundbites' audio clip options, which will allow users to share edited bits of audio as feed posts and elsewhere.

Soundbites will be similar to Clubhouse's recently announced Clips feature, but will also include audio filters and editing capabilities to provide a new dimension to the process. Soundbites will be available to more users in the United States in the coming weeks, according to Facebook.

It's difficult to determine whether audio social will continue to be popular or if it was a pandemic-induced fad that provided a fresh method to engage while people tried to keep in touch. It does appear to have a certain appeal – and, as previously stated, while Clubhouse has lost some traction, it now hosts 700,000 rooms every day.

There's a demand for the format, and as Twitter develops its tools, it makes sense for Facebook to follow suit, even if it's in a more limited format that only allows particular users access. As previously said, this may be a better option. As the development of audio social proceeds, we'll see how things play out.

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