In yet another attempt to ward off a potential threat, Facebook announced on Monday it is delving into audio services.
Rattled by the popularity of Clubhouse, Facebook is taking, what is now a custom, step to clone the audio chat platform. It is similar to its moves into the services of other social media platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat and short-video app TikTok.
Social media audio has seen a growing acceptance as podcasts become a way of putting out contents. Live social audio on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces have been taken to another level, attracting a growing number of fascinated people.
“At Facebook, we’ve seen the continuing rise of audio on our platforms, from audio on our platforms, from audio calls to audio messages on WhatsApp and Messenger. We’re working to make audio messages easier to record, and more fun – including the ability for people to send familiar sound clips to their friends that range from sound effects like crickets chirping to quotes from popular songs,” Facebook said in a statement.
The social media company said the live audio product, called Live Audio Rooms, will be tested in Facebook Groups. It plans to make the feature available to everyone on Facebook this summer and incorporate it in its messaging app, Messenger. Reddit also announced its own Clubhouse-like product on Monday.
Facebook wants to “treat audio as a first-class medium in the way that we treat photos and videos,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday in an interview with journalist Casey Newton on another group-chatting platform, Discord.
The Live Audio will be tested in Groups, to make it available to the 1.8 billion people using Groups every month, the company said. Another feature of the Live Audio are Rooms that will make live audio both accessible and discoverable so that public figures can share ideas with new audiences and create a forum for discussion without using camera.
Podcasts are also coming to Facebook. People will soon be able to listen to and discover new podcasts directly on the Facebook app, as they already can on alternative platforms like Spotify and Apple’s podcast app.
Facebook said more than 170 million people are already connected to hundreds of thousands of podcast pages on Facebook, and more than 35 million people are members of fan groups around podcasts, but until now, they all have to leave Facebook to listen to episodes.
“Within the next few months, you’ll be able to listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook app – both while using the app or when the app is backgrounded,” the social media platform said.
Another new product is called “Soundbites. They are audio clips that are short-form like TikTok videos but are instead audio-focused with captions. The feature will first be available to a select number of creators, including comedian Drew Lynch and motivational speaker Molly Burke.
“We’ll start testing Soundbites over the next few months with a small number of creators and refine the product with their input before making it available to everyone,” Facebook explained.
Facebook also announced plans for creators to be able to make money with these new audio tools. This would include charging for access to Live Audio Rooms and using Facebook Stars, its tipping feature. The company is also launching an Audio Creator Fund to support those using its Soundbites feature.
“Soon after launch, we’ll also offer other monetization models, like the ability to charge for access to a Live Audio Room through a single purchase or a subscription,” Facebook said.
Zuckerberg said Monday that he likes audio since theoretically people can more easily consume it while multitasking and also because the production is “more accessible.”
“A big part of the creator economy is that it’s empowering individuals,” Zuckerberg said. “I think that’s a positive trend in the world.”
Facebook said everything is being built together to help creators to turn live conversation into a podcast for everyone to listen to later.