Your vocal cords (and listening skills) are about to get some much-needed exercise thanks to an upcoming update from Facebook. While advice on how to keep our voices healthy amidst stay-at-home protocols is great, there’s really nothing that can beat, you know, good old talking. And that’s exactly what Facebook wants you to do soon. The social media giant has just announced a couple of new audio-centric features: live audio rooms (yes, just like the one on Clubhouse), podcasts, and for those who are looking to make some extra cash, monetisation opportunities. Keep reading as we dissect each update.
Ladies and gentlemen, hands off the keyboard, it’s time to start talking.
New audio creation tools
Gone are the days when you need helium to sound like a chipmunk. With Facebook’s “Sound Studio”, you can remix your voice using voice synthesizer templates. We’re guessing there would be a robot voice, a deep “old man” voice, high-pitched chipmunk voice, to name a few. This “voice morphing” feature along with a “speech-to-text” function will soon roll out on the Facebook app itself, and it’s positioned as something that’s intuitive but “powerful enough” for pros. One ambitious aspect of this new audio creation tool is its AI (artificial intelligence) that will help make audio quality “magically great” even when recording in a noisy environment. There’s also going to be a music and sound clip collection so you can add background music and effects like the undying laugh track.
So what are these new audio creation tools for? It’s for Soundbites.
Soundbites, Facebook’s answer to TikTok
Instagram Reels looks like it’s struggling to find its footing months after its release. Granted, it’s still in its infancy and is not yet available for all countries but right now original content on it is still sparse and it’s dominated by TikTok reuploads. Despite this, Facebook is introducing another contender in the short-form arena. Meet Soundbites, where creators can upload creative short clips; it’s like TikTok but without video. Facebook says it’s “for capturing anecdotes, jokes, moments of inspiration, poems, and many other things we haven’t yet imagined.” However, it’s not going to be available for all users just yet. For its first release, Facebook is going to test it with creator partners to “experiment different concepts” and then work from there. Some of the creators they mentioned are comedian Drew Lynch and motivational speaker Molly Burke.
Obviously, this update isn’t exactly new nor cutting-edge but because Facebook still has more users than TikTok and Instagram, creators could potentially reach more audiences on this platform. Another part of its appeal to creators is the easiness of recording audio. It doesn’t matter if they’re having a bad hair day or haven’t cleaned their filming space yet, creators can make engaging content without the usual prep for visual platforms. The biggest honeypot, however, is the “Audio Creator Fund” to support “emerging audio creators.” Facebook has yet to expound on the concept but we can safely assume that it’s going to be the same as the TikTok Creator Fund, where creators apply for funding and, if approved, will receive regular payments for posting.
Only time will tell if Facebook’s Sound Studio and Soundbites will be enough to make a dent in the short-form world.
Podcasts on Facebook
Another thing Facebook is taking a hand in? Podcasts. Interest in podcasts have been steadily increasing in the past few years, and it makes sense for a social media giant like Facebook to want a piece of the pie. Facebook explains that podcast fan pages and groups are already on Facebook, so why not take the extra step and host the actual podcast there?
There are still no details on Facebook’s upcoming podcast hosting but it reportedly features recommendations and has comment sections — something that not a lot of, if any, podcast hosting platforms have. This way, podcast creators and listeners alike will be able to connect with each other and possibly react in real-time as the podcast is happening. It’s definitely a new interesting feature but we reckon it would be challenging to manage a comment section while talking live.
Live Room Chats
Last month, we talked about the invite-only app Clubhouse and how it’s the next thing to watch out for. Well, it looks like we have a challenger — Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms. Like Clubhouse, it will host live audio-only conferences where people can listen to speakers “on the stage” and then a moderator will open the floor for questions and comments afterwards. But these conferences will mostly be held within existing Facebook groups. For example, if you’re a part of a book lovers group, you can now easily hold book discussions.
However, Facebook has also allowed certain personalities like industry experts and public figures to hold their own Live Audio Rooms such as director Elle Moxley and Olympic medalist and entrepreneur Nastia Liukin. Think TED Talks but with audio only! Soon, some rooms will need a fee to access. It will also be eligible for Facebook Stars, a monetisation program where your audience can send you virtual gifts and each will have a corresponding value (for example, one star equals USD0.01).
All these new audio updates which will roll out in the next months are exciting, to say the least. Facebook took what’s already working and added new features that will enhance the user experience We have a lot to look forward to!
(Cover photo from: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash)