Video is considered social media royalty, but audio is extremely powerful as well. It’s also a magnificent way to build community, as social media strategist Madalyn Sklar shared during a recent Social Media Breakfast Houston hosted by Jennifer Texada.
Madalyn is the host of the popular #TwitterSmarter chat and a variety of weekly Twitter Spaces audio discussions, as well as the co-host of the All Things Audio podcast. With more than two decades experience in digital marketing, she’s comfortable with all types of social media and recognizes the unique strengths of each. One of her favorites is social audio.
Social Audio Is Livestreaming Without the Camera
Social audio is a type of social networking that involves audio communication and uses audio rather than text or images. Sometimes described as voice-based social media, “the best way to think about social audio is livestreaming but without the camera,” she says. “I think that's why it's so appealing – because so many people do not want to be on camera.”
Benefits of Social Audio
Social media professionals, consultants, and small business owners can greatly benefit from using social audio. ”It's a way to just have a pulse on things. You can talk to your customers in real time, your community; you can make great new connections,” Madalyn explains.
She had already been podcasting for ten years and livestreaming for a long time as well when she started using social audio. “It’s another way to build community.”
“There’s something so powerful about audio, especially when there is no camera. I remember one of the first times I was in Clubhouse, which was one of the very early social audio apps. I'll never forget this, this lady goes ‘I'm in the bathtub right now,’” she shares. “[That] shows you that you can do that anywhere….[Social audio] gives you that power to do it on the go.”
She stumbled across X Spaces by chance when employees were still testing its functionality on the X platform.
(Note: Although Madalyn refers to Twitter, Twitter Spaces, and tweets in the livestream, with Twitter’s recent name change to X, in this blog post all such mentions will be called “X” and “Spaces” and “posts.”)
“With this [X] Space I'm thinking… I would love to kind of go back to how I used to livestream with the guest after the [X] chat, but do it in Spaces where it's just audio and I know that I won't get as much pushback” because people wouldn’t have to be on camera.”
From Spaces Beta Tester to Spaces Community Builder
Madalyn is a community builder through-and-through, so when X was still testing Spaces internally, she contacted them expressing her interest, landing her in the beta testers group.
“I just viewed [Spaces] as a way to continue the conversation from a traditional Twitter chat where we're just tweeting with a hashtag, to then [talking] together, and other people can be a part of that. They can actually grab the mic and talk to us.”
She ended up creating a Space called “All Things Audio,” which she and her co-host turned into the All Things Audio podcast that is recorded live on X Spaces every Wednesday.
Audio is a Great Marketing Tool
Madalyn started out podcasting because she loves its ability to connect people.
“I just always thought podcasting was cool, but very quickly I saw that it was a great marketing tool for my business. I mean think about it – people are typically listening with their airpods or earbuds and they just feel like they get to know you by just listening to you,” she says.
Letting your audience discover you is part of the process. “When I set up my Spaces I'll just start [posting], I'll start promoting them and there's a lot of word of mouth which is what's really helped because as you're building communities through your social audio, if people like it and it resonates with them, they'll go tell other people and they'll take your [X post] and [share] it and talk to others about it and say, ‘Hey you gotta check out this Space, this is some really interesting stuff.”
X Is Still A Great Platform
Despite all the controversy and criticism over Elon Musk’s takeover of the social network, Madalyn believes X still holds great value.
“I don't want people to think because they know me for helping people with Twitter…that I support [Musk]. I do not, but [X] is still a great platform. What I've learned is you have to cut out all that noise and just not pay attention to what some of these people are [posting] about all that nonsense because it's still at the end of the day a great platform to connect with people,” Madalyn reminds everyone.
“I meet so many amazing people and it is such a life-changing experience….I've connected with people, so many in Africa and India, that probably have nobody helping them with social media.”
Identify the Platforms That Are Best for Your Community
Madalyn is an unabashed X fan, but gives all social media a try in order to identify the ones she deems best.
Initially excited about Clubhouse, she feels the platform and its early adopters were too focused on exclusivity and building users’ ‘expert’ status. She says, “I just kept feeling like I was listening to Ted Talks…. All these wannabe experts and stuff like people like that.”
She recommends “people try the different platforms out there. LinkedIn live audio is really popular.” Meanwhile, Meta’s new Threads is one to watch, with the company planning to add new features like a search function and web access, although as of yet no social audio.
Ultimately, Madalyn notes, “you want to be where your audience is and where the conversation is.”