Earlier this week, Facebook announced the release of Facebook Live Audio. This feature allows users to live stream audio (as opposed to video) through Facebook Live. It’s essentially a mash-up of traditional live radio and podcasting, with the addition of Facebook’s social networking features.
How It Works
Live Audio is set up just like Facebook Live Video is. Users can discover audio streams in their News Feeds and interact with them through comments and Facebook Reactions. Listeners can also multitask when using the tool. For example, Android users can listen to broadcasts, even if they lock their phones or explore other apps. iOS users can continue listening as long as they are somewhere on the Facebook app.
Who Can Use It
According to the company’s press release, the new tool appeals to publishers who prefer sound to video content from a creative stance. Facebook suggests using Live Audio for content like interviews and book readings, but we can also see potential for live music streaming. The platform also emphasizes that broadcasters in low-connectivity areas may prefer Live Audio, as video is more difficult to stream in these locations. Facebook is currently testing the tool with partners including BBC World Service and Harper Collins. It should be available to the general public in early 2017.
A New Platform for Podcasts?
Live Audio may seem like an “untrendy” update, as most social media users and platforms are evolving towards visual content. However, there’s definitely a growing market for audio broadcasting. This year, podcasts are more popular than ever before. In fact, a record 21% of American adults regularly listen to podcasts. Currently, there’s no default podcast listening software or directory, so Live Audio could easily dominate this space. For podcast creators and fans, Facebook Live Audio offers an unprecedented level of discoverability to the medium. For Facebook itself, the tool is a chance for the company to cash in on the increasingly profitable podcast ad industry.
As more people gain access to Live Audio, it will be interesting to see what kind of content the feature inspires. After all, the quality and creativity of user-generated content often determines the success of a social media tool.