Social audio: still difficult

NPR’s Audience Insights group has published findings from its experiments in social audio on Facebook over the last few months.

There are lots of figures but the conclusion is sobering. Daniel Frohlich writing on Medium:

The root issue remains: getting people to play audio in the social space is incredibly difficult. Social users tend to be mobile users and many of them may not be in a situation where they can listen. Their physical context often precludes the use of audio. It’s important we keep the environment of our users in mind as we continue to experiment with audio in the social space. We must temper our expectations.

I don’t think audio is ever going to engage as well as text or video in the limited-attention context of browsing a social network. Humans just cannot skim-listen as well as they skim-read. I would like to see simpler ways to save audio for later - think Instapaper for podcast episodes. You would browse Facebook at work, see an Audiogram for an NPR show and save it to listen to on your commute home.