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 clocking up accounts en masse. But if our primary drivers were the only explanation, TikTok would not have moved up the ranks. From 2018 to 2020, the TikTok user base has grown by 800%. Your “it factor” displayed on a 2021 Nielson Study – a unique ability to inspire belonging, community, and authenticity – is outperforming existing tech conglomerates that, frankly, seek to replicate its design.
However, these unique core features that inspire exceptional possibilities for information sharing – i.e. quick videos, shareable music, catchy hooks and clever audio overlays – have underpinned a new problem for brands, public figures, celebrities and influencers who win. terrain: how and with 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 on-platform metrics is not a new problem, which is why many off-platform tech companies have already tried to solve it. In part, they have.
“Advances in social listening technology have helped users understand how their profile or brand can be first in the digital landscape. – algorithms read subtitles, analyze user behavior, track performance metrics, and even summarize user sentiment based on a nice loop you can actually benefit from.
Then the audio content appeared.
“Audio presents a fundamentally different set of challenges for moderation than text-based communication. It’s more ephemeral and more difficult to investigate and act on,” Discord Legal Director Clint Smith said. Referrer to the channel’s moderation fight around its 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 researching tracking solutions internally, but tools for audio content moderation lag far behind those social listening tools for text-based conversations. . Some third-party companies are developing a speech analytics API, but at the moment there is no simplified approach to online audio conversations.
Problems with audio moderation
Because of this, social platforms, their users, and their technology integrations don’t have much of a tracking system, particularly when it comes to managing problematic comments or harassment. In these cases, platforms often resort to blocking users for whatever reason, which creates its own set of accessibility issues.
For example, according to Reuters, “Twitter keeps Spaces audio for 30 days or more if there’s an incident, Clubhouse says it deletes its recording if a live session ends without immediate user feedback, and Discord doesn’t record anything.”
Managing and tracking any text or image based comments, let alone problematic comments online, is not an easy job to start with. There’s a job title for this: Community Manager. But addressing problematic mentions, moments of crisis, or something like adverse health events in ephemeral audio conversations? The job market is wide open.
Furthermore, even if platforms create more monitoring parameters internally tomorrow, users and brands would still have to monitor their own devices. theirs glad.
So for people, influencers, and brands who want to moderate content and social listening on audio platforms, the problem is threefold:
- Audio content is by nature more ephemeral than written content. You may be able to transcribe something, but you’ll still be missing additional clues, like the visual cues in the video or the accompanying text comments.
- Few tech companies offer APIs to listen to audio socially in new social apps like TikTok or Discord. For those that do, they are still in the beta phase.
- Even if brands wanted to track audio manually, most companies lack the human power, resources, and time to do so.
not everything is bad
These general symptoms of audio content are likely to increase in impact as platforms like TikTok grow and evolve.
But users may want to remember the benefits of audio content as we grapple with ephemerality and nuance: audio itself is superior in its ability to connect with an audience. Podcasts started just two decades ago and now billions of people around the world participate daily. US only, Insider Intelligence Projects viewership exceeds 144 billion by 2025.
Whether you’re more convinced of the inevitable challenges of TikTok and other audio-based channels or their research-backed potential, there’s a reason many are interested, and from this point of view, the bandwagon. it doesn’t look so bad.