Is TikTok too short-lived to follow?
With over a billion users — and 105 million in North America alone — Tiktok is a centerpiece of cross-generational conversations, pop culture references, and everyday use.
From a high-level perspective, it’s no wonder our dopamine-fueled brains have been registering mass counts. But if our primary pilots were the only explanation, TikTok wouldn’t have risen through the ranks. From 2018 to 2020, TikTok’s user base grew up by 800%. Its “it factor” illustrated in a Nielson Study 2021 – a unique ability to inspire belonging, community and authenticity – surpasses existing tech conglomerates that outright seek to replicate its design.
Yet these unique core features that inspire rare opportunities to share information – i.e. fast-paced videos, shareable music, catchy hooks, and clever audio overlays – have underpinned a new problem for brands, public figures, celebrities and influencers gaining traction: how and by what metrics and benchmarks do you track success when the content itself is quite ephemeral?
The rise of social listening technology
Tracking social success outside of platform metrics is not a new problem, so many tech companies outside of platforms have already tried to solve it. In part, they did.
Developments in social listening technology have helped users understand how their profile or brand first entered the digital landscape – algorithms read captions, analyze user behavior, track performance metrics and even sum up the feelings of the users based on everything tied in a nice arc that you can actually benefit from.
Then the audio content arrived.
“Audio presents a fundamentally different set of challenges for moderation than text-based communication. It’s more ephemeral and harder to research and take action on,” said Discord’s chief legal officer, Clint Smith, referrer to the channel moderation fight around their new Stage Channels audio feature.
The entire tech stack of audio-based social channels — TikTok, Instagram’s Reels, Clubhouse, Discord’s Stage Channels — has just started looking for in-house tracking solutions, but audio content moderation tools are far behind. social listening tools for text conversations. A few external companies are developing a speech analysis API, but currently there is no streamlined approach to online audio conversations.
Audio moderation issues
Because of this, social platforms, their users, and their technology integrations don’t have a tracking system at all, especially when it comes to handling problematic comments or harassment. In these cases, platforms often resort to blocking users on anything, which creates its own set of accessibility issues.
For example according to Reuters“Twitter retains Spaces audio for 30 days or more in the event of an incident, Clubhouse says it deletes its recording if a live session ends without immediate user reporting, and Discord does not record at all .”
Managing and tracking any text- or image-based comments, let alone problematic comments online, is not an easy task for humans. There’s a job title for that: Community Manager. But addressing problematic mentions, moments of crisis, or something like adverse health events in fleeting audio conversations? The labor market is wide open.
Moreover, even if platforms tomorrow created more internal monitoring parameters, users and brands would still be left to monitor on their own. theirs contents.
So, for people, influencers and brands wanting to moderate content and social listening on audio platforms, the problem is threefold:
- Audio content is, by nature, more ephemeral than written content. You might be able to transcribe something, but you’ll still miss additional cues, like visual cues from the video or accompanying text comments.
- Few tech companies offer APIs to listen to audio on new social apps like TikTok or Discord. For those that do, they are still in beta stage.
- Even if brands wanted to track audio manually, most companies lack the human power, resources, and time to do so.
Not bad at all
These general symptoms of audio content are likely to have an increased impact as platforms like TikTok grow and evolve.
But it would behoove users to remember the benefits of audio content as we struggle with transience and nuance – audio itself reigns supreme in its ability to connect with an audience. Podcasts started just two decades ago, and now billions of people around the world engage with them daily. In the United States only, Insider Intelligence projects exceed 144 billion audiences by 2025.
Whether you’re more convinced by the inevitable challenges of TikTok and other audio channels or by its research-backed potential, there’s a reason so many people are getting involved, and from that perspective, the bandwagon. walking doesn’t seem so bad.