Facebook Increases Efforts on Live Audio, Announces New Products and Features

"At a high-level picture here, we think audio is also going to be a first-class medium," Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO

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Facebook Audio Products and Features

The launch of the invite-only app Clubhouse early last year revolutionized social network platforms that had so far stagnated in terms of new features and tools.

A lot of social networks and tech giants jumped in on the live audio trend including Twitter Spaces, Reddit Talk, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Slack, Discord and Telegram.

Speaking to Casey Newton on Sidechannel Discord chat, Mark Zuckerberg spoke of what Facebook is cooking regarding the audio format. Here are some of the important features and tools he talked about.


Live Audio Rooms on Facebook and Messenger.

Facebook is working on live audio and ways that format could be used on its platform including the News Feed. They’ll first be testing this feature in Groups that 1.8 billion people use every month.

Live Audio will also be available public figures so they can host conversations with other public figures, experts and fans. 

He adds that, “Every once in a while a new medium comes along that can be adopted into a lot of different areas.”

These live audio rooms will live on the site unlike Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse chat rooms that disappear after they end.

To support creators, Facebook live rooms will have tipping feature.

Mark said that Stars, Facebook’s new tipping platform has worked better than expected.

Facebook is also working on ways to cater for creators with new features including subscriptions and donations so they(creators) can monetize their products.

“We hope the monetization products will work and I think over time different people will adopt them at different stages. Early on there’s more risk and potentially more reward…,” Mark says regarding monetization for creators.

“I think you have that risk-reward with all new things. It’s not like everything we do is going to work for the first time. But I think we have a good track record over a 3-5 year period of iterating. A lot of people jumped on video before it really matured,” he continues.

It’s not going to be easy doing the transition to audio but Mark says that this is something they’re committed to.

Facebook is also working on prioritizing portability in its services so that it doesn’t hurt creators.

“Talented people like you can easily make a living and actually do quite well.”

– Mark Zuckerberg to Casey Newton.

Live Audio Rooms will be available on Messenger in the coming months.

Soundbites

Reels but make it audio. That’s what soundbites will be. They will be short audio clips and its more shareable format will come in handy when sharing on the News Feed after a live audio session has ended or is ongoing.

Facebook says AI will be used to suggest which live audio parts can be shared as soundbites.

Podcasts

Facebook is working on integrating a podcast feature on its platform inckuding a podcast discovery tool thatwill enable creators on the network to share their podcasts with other users.

This same tool will also help users discover and listen to podcasts without leaving the platform. Mark pointed that they will partner with a podcast platform like Spotify so users can consume podcasts while on the Facebook platform doing other things on the network.

Facebook reports that they have over 170 million people are already connected to hundreds of thousands of podcast pages on its platform, and more than 35 million people are members of fan groups around podcasts and now all these people won’t have to leave the app to listen to their favorite podcast episodes.

Using the Discovery tool, Facebook will recommend podcasts and episodes sorted according to peoples interests.

Facebook will include direct monetization to support podcasts.

You’ll soon be able to host a live audio room, make that a podcast that is shareable via Soundbites and get tipped as well.

“Our ambition has always been to make Spotify ubiquitous across platforms and devices, bringing music and podcasts to more people, and our new integration with Facebook is another step in these efforts, ‘ said a Spotify spokesperson.

Project Boombox

Partnering up with Spotify, Facebook is getting into the music scene too. Artists will soon be able to easily share their music on Facebook. Users will be able to listen to music within the network without being redirected to the Spotify app.

Facebook team working on this feature are calling it Project Boombox.

Takeaways

Mark Zuckerberg believes audio media format will just be as useful and important to Facebook just like other formats on the platform including text, video and photo.

regarding content moderation that still plagues social networks, Mark said that its current content moderator infrastructure that works on its other platforms inluidng Instagram can be used to moderate the live audio rooms.

“Some of it. Unfortunately every domain is different,” Mark says.


Moderating live audio will be a growing challenge not only for Facebook and other networks that hosts live audio rooms as they’ll need to quickly ship tools that detect problematic audio.

These features will take months in testing and polishing before they roll out to the public. Mark hopes these new products and features come out in the next few months.


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