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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Facebook Now Discontinues Support for Podcasts

Much unlike the social app's usual launching of features venture, Facebook has recently opted to remove some of its options — a headache-inducing move for businesses and creators who built their strategies around such features.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook's podcast support and display options, which it introduced in June of last year, will soon be discontinued as it changes its focus away from audio options.

As per Bloomberg:

“Facebook is pulling out of podcasts and plans to remove them altogether from the social-media service starting June 3. Facebook will stop letting people add podcasts to the service starting this week, according to a note sent to partners. It will discontinue both its short-form audio product Soundbites and remove its central audio hub.”

Following Clubhouse's spectacular rise in early 2021, Facebook first showcased these features in April as part of a bigger push on social audio.

As seen here, Meta advertised a number of new podcast features, as well as on-page display tools and direct connection capabilities, which would allow Facebook users to listen to podcasts without having to leave the app.

By June, Meta formally debuted its podcast support tools with a variety of launch partners.

The feature was advertised as a method to show off your podcast content to Meta's billions of users and engage with fans via the app, all while growing your audience.

However, just less than a year since then, it's shutting down completely, leaving any creators who used these tools to grow their audience blindsided.

Bloomberg received a brief statement from Meta, which stated:

“We’re constantly evaluating the features we offer so we can focus on the most meaningful experiences.”

Meta has a history of letting down creators and brands, be it through restricted Page reach, varying emphasis on video, or forcing creators to adopt Stories, to name a few examples.

Every time, this undermines faith in The Social Network and serves as a warning to creators not to develop on "rented land." Because Meta has the ability to change the game's rules whenever it wants. The basic conclusion is that if you rely on its apps to assist your community-building efforts, you should anticipate it to switch gears and abandon you at some point.

Indeed, Meta has only been interested in podcasts for a few months, so you'd think that the vast majority of podcasters had already shifted their audience-building efforts elsewhere, given that it hasn't become a big component of the Facebook experience in any case.

Yet, it'll certainly bring back memories for business users who have made strategic shifts at Zuck and Co's will, only to be met with limited reach and engagement as the platform turns to the next attractive element at hand, which it can utilize to pull in more people.

Meta also appears to have no plans to notify consumers of the podcast move, instead deferring to the publishers, while Live Audio Rooms will be incorporated into Facebook Live, allowing users to go live with just audio or audio and video.

However, why the sudden change in emphasis?

Perhaps, this remark from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the company's most recent earnings call, has much to do with it:

“After the start of COVID, the acceleration of e-commerce led to outsized revenue growth, but we’re now seeing that trend back off. However, based on the strong revenue growth we saw in 2021, we kicked off a number of 2 multi-year projects to accelerate some of our longer term investments, especially in our AI infrastructure, business platform, and Reality Labs. These investments are going to be important for our success and growth over time so I continue to believe we should see them through. But with our current business growth levels, we’re now planning to slow the pace of some of our investments.”

With expenditures growing as it turns to the metaverse, Meta is now re-evaluating its numerous bets and narrowing its emphasis to guarantee it manages spending and maintains income rolling over.

And perhaps audio isn't as significant as some predicted earlier this year.

Some audio features are still performing well, and Clubhouse could be on its way to carving out a market niche.

However, Meta apparently did not perceive much interest or value in this on Facebook, which is why it is now reversing course.

As a result, this is unlikely to be a major issue in isolation, and it is unlikely to have a widespread impact. However, it's another unsettling reminder of how Meta's focus might alter, and why you shouldn't become too accustomed to or rely on the platform.

On Facebook, there's a lot of potential for reach and engagement, but that comes with the condition that it may all vanish in an instant if the platform alters its strategy.

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