Facebook to Rollout Podcast Product Next Week

Adding to a new line of audio experiences for Facebook users

Not to be outdone by Apple or Spotify, Facebook wants to get in on the podcast action. Starting June 22, Facebook will roll out its own podcast product, reports The Verge. In an email from Facebook to podcast creators, the company said, “Facebook will be the place where people can enjoy, discuss and share the podcasts they love with each other. To help them find your work, we can add a new tab to your page that will feature your podcasts.”

Podcast hosts will be able to link their program’s RSS feed to Facebook which will then generate News Feed posts for future podcasts from that podcast hosts. Though it isn’t live yet, The Verge said new episodes will appear in an upcoming Podcasts tab. Podcast creators will be able to choose if they want to enable clips, allowing their listeners to capture snippets up to a minute long. They can then share those clips which might increase the reach of podcasts.

Here’s how Facebook explains the “enable clips” feature:

Enable clips featured as shared by The Verge.

Podcasts, Live Audio Rooms, Soundbites and more

These enhancements build on the announcements that Facebook made back in April. According to Facebook, more than 170 million people are connected to hundreds of thousands of podcast pages on Facebook, and more than 35 million people are members of fan groups around podcasts. However, to actually listen to podcasts, podcast fans had to leave the Facebook app to hear their favorite shows.

Another new audio feature Facebook is testing is Live Audio Rooms in Groups which the company hopes to launch this summer. They will be a way for Facebook to engage around important topics. The feature will be available to the 1.8 billion people who use Facebook Groups each month. Live Audio Rooms will also be available for public figures like football star Russell Wilson, musical artist TOKiMONSTA, and Olympic medalist and entrepreneur Nastia Liukin. As an added feature, Live Audio Rooms will offer monetization opportunities for creators. Listeners and participants can make donations to causes their creators care about, and they can pay for access to a Live Audio Room as a one-time purchase or via subscription.

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Soundbites is another new tool currently in testing with a small group of creators. This audio creation tool allows users to create short-form audio, creative audio clips, jokes, inspirational moments, poems and other creative ideas.

“We think a lot of magic happens at the intersection of audio formats, as well as at the confluence of text, audio, and video. For example, with live audio, creators will be able to turn a live conversation into a podcast for everyone to listen to later. We also want to give creators and fans tools to share the best excerpts from a live audio or podcast and publish them as Soundbites to encourage more discussion. Additionally, we’re going to offer captions on all these audio experiences to make them accessible to all. And if you have the sound off or prefer to follow along with text, you will be able to access this universe of content on your terms. Similarly, if you’re on the go, we will also make it easy to listen to most videos in the background. Over time, all these different formats will live in a central listening destination on Facebook where people can find new things and new people to listen to,” said Fidji Simo, head of Facebook App.

“We’ve seen time and again just how much creative energy is liberated when you build powerful creation and editing tools, make them free and easy to use, and — with appropriate safety and privacy safeguards — put them out into the world. By bringing the magic to new audio formats, we’re giving people a new way to say more of what they’ve always wanted to say, this whole time,” added Simo.

Insider Take

If this business model sounds familiar, it reminds us of Apple, Twitter and Amazon. These tech companies want to be in on the latest trends, and they want to leverage their expertise to be better than the competition. This competition is good for creators and listeners who have choices as to where they spend their listening time and subscription dollars. However, we wonder if throwing all these new ideas against the wall to see what sticks is the best way to grow a business and make it sustainable. It seems that, in their quest to be trendy and to be first – or at least next – the big tech companies may be forgetting about their core products and services which could be a major misstep.