Social audio has transformed how people communicate online, but how has it transformed the way brands engage their audience? Since mid-2020, a new social media fad—social audio— has been changing how we communicate on social media.

Covid-19 lockdowns, in particular, have been referenced as the catalyst for the viral growth of social audio in the last year. With most people separated physically and communicating primarily through text interfaces, the advent of social audio served as a relief from isolation for people in search of authentic human communication.

Clubhouse's hyperbolic growth piggybacked off the social audio wave. Then Twitter introduced Spaces to provide its users with another way to engage. Facebook has also been experimenting with Audio Rooms—its own social audio feature, while Spotify launched GreenRoom, a direct Clubhouse competitor for podcast makers.

What makes social audio special is that it creates near real-time audio experiences for users, transforming how engagement happens across social media platforms. It also presents a way for people to be "hands-off" while still staying connected. You can listen in on a Clubhouse room or  Twitter Space while working, taking brief breaks to make contributions. Young Nigerians, especially have found it to be an exciting new way to connect and fuelled its rising popularity—at least before the Twitter Ban which restricted Twitter as an audio channel.

For Nigerian brands, getting on the social audio trend has been a smart and strategic move to boost customer engagement. Customer engagement refers to the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. In business, engaged customers buy more, promote more, and show more brand loyalty.

Risevest is one brand that has leveraged social audio via its Telegram Channel. The company runs a Telegram community with more than 10,000 members. Prior to the pandemic, the startup would organise physical meetups for its community members to educate them on all things investment. However, since Covid restrictions were enforced, Risevest has had to move its meeting online. According to the Chukwubuikem Oguzie, Risevest's Head, Investment Club &  Community Management, the company has been able to achieve similar levels of engagement with physical meetings.

"We leveraged on audio to achieve the connection that a physical meeting would. Receiving insights via voice chats on our Telegram and then hearing other people make their contribution makes the entire event even more impactful." Chubby said to Benjamindada.com.

The ease with which social audio allows people to connect also presents a cost-effective way for brands to also connect with their audience.  Brands have been engaging social audio to build thought-leadership within their industry as well as drive meaningful conversations.

Personal brands are also not left out. Individuals with a large following and an engaged audience have also begun to use social audio as a tool to drive engagement with followers.

Insights into how some Nigerian brands are to leverage social audio as a growth tool:

  • Community building: As a customer engagement tool, social audio helps brands establish their community,  communicate their value proposition and drive conversations. According to Chukwubuikem, social audio can create a less formal space for communicating and interacting with customers in a different way.
  • Generating buzz: For brands, when launching new products or features, social audio can be used.  Through influencers, brands can drive buzz, engagement, visibility, and awareness through social audio. Prior to launching its product, GetEquity, a Nigerian financial service startup, hosted Clubhouse rooms to educate customers on its coming offerings.
  • Personal brand visibility: Building a personal brand that is "visible" is a huge asset. Social audio has made driving conversations and building thought leadership is easy. Ibukun Akinnawo, a popular name in the Nigerian Fintech industry has been able to grow an Investing for Beginners room on Clubhouse with over 40k members. Through the impactful sessions on Clubhouse, Ibukun has established herself as a leading figure in the Fintech industry.

Parting Thoughts

It is still early days for social audio and many social media companies like Facebook, and LinkedIn are still trying to figure out implementation. However, its prospects as a customer engagement channel are continually improving. Will we see a company use social audio as its primary channel soon? Who knows.