Expert Speak: Reels to Social Audio - The changing paradigms of content creations

Mrinil Mathur
New Update
Team Pumpkin Prega News Digital Agency

From the days of blogging to 15-seconder videos, and now social audio - the definition of snackible content changes by the day. What does it mean to the different segments of the industry? We find out.

The best thing about change is that it changes quickly, even in the content space.  Something that is in vogue today might become tomorrow. Not long ago, blogs dominated content creation. Then came 140 characters, long-format videos, disappearing stories, and whatnot.

But the last year saw content creation and distribution changes like no other. Lockdown made people sit and WFH, giving them the scope to experiment with content creation. We saw the advent of several creators during this time.

From the ban of TikTok to the launch of Instagram Reels to homegrown short-video apps - video creation and consumption patterns changed. The next chapter in this story was Social Audio Content which gave birth to a new crop of creators.

We discussed the growth of Audio Content Creation and its future with Roshan Abbas, TV & Radio Host, Podcaster, and Co-Founder, Kommune, Viraj Sheth, Co-Founder & CEO, Monk Entertainment, and Salil Acharya, RJ and Podcaster. We also spoke to the content creators - Anmol Sachar, Ashi Khanna, and Aashna Hegde to understand how short video formats changed the content creation game.

Audio Content Growth  

Platforms like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces et al. surfaced and became extremely popular, penetrating several audience segments. These platforms helped in overcoming inhibitions and connecting people of the same interest.

While discussing the factors that contributed to this growth of Audio, Sheth says that Audio as a medium is easy to consume. He said, “You can listen to these conversations while working out, while you’re driving, while you are doing your chores and other work. It requires lower bandwidth than video consumption where multiple sensory organs are at play. Indians as a whole are moving towards a full knowledge wave where they want to educate themselves more and more. They want to be up-to-date with the latest trends, news, and things like that and that’s why a lot of consumption on audios increased.”

Acharya too believes that it is a user-friendly and easy medium to go public. For him, video has always been tough for people and they shy away from thinking of the expertise required. “With audio, you just put on a mic and put your thoughts out, that’s been the biggest reason plus with various tools to make it mass, anyone can make a podcast and you really don’t know what exactly will work .. hence its universal appeal.”

Comparing the Indian Podcast and Social Audio Industry, Abbas said “India normally follows about 10 years behind in a global trend. But podcasting started becoming big in America alone about 10 years ago. These kinds of ripples are seen everywhere. The millennial and Gen Z audience or audiences who like to do things according to their time, for them the minute audio streaming came along with platforms like Saavn, Gaana, Spotify, etc everybody started using them. Any medium to suddenly find its place, you need technology, platform, and audience. And when all of this is happening, you will start getting revenue. I believe that for revenue, it is still a little early, but the rest of all the things have started happening. I think that's the one reason for the rise.”

Avenues for Audio Content Creators

Talking about avenues that Indian Podcasters can explore, Roshan extended his thought of comparing the Industry with the West. He feels level one for any podcast is to build a loyal audience. “In the West, this audience is in millions as compared to the Indian audience in lacs. And that is a sad thing. Because you know, you have to go that into millions for you to be relevant to the basic advertising community, the niche advertising communities are already exploring. I think that is one hurdle in getting to break that barrier of million-plus listeners.”

According to Abbas, internationally, once you've built yourself a loyal fan base, live interactions happen because you want to know the person behind the horse. So in the West, ticketed shows and live recordings with an audience have become available. “And I think that is going to be the next big thing in podcasting here as well.”

“Also, I think in terms of format, we're still a little sticking to safe things. In India, the unique factor is that we have got so many languages, and people who capture the regional language market will be the next thing”, he adds.

At the same time, Viraj thinks the new highs that the Indian Indian podcast Industry has reached is that the numbers are picking up every day and new people are discovering audio platforms. Creators are now able to sign exclusive deals with platforms like Spotify did with Indian creators.“ A lot of brands are also looking to invest in audio content every passing day. I feel like we’re moving to a new era in terms of audio content through that.”

He believes that to an extent, podcasts have become a great way to 'reach and teach' a massive audience and organizations should start looking at employee engagement with this tool.

Engagement Opportunities for Brands in the Audio Space

Viraj thinks that a lot of Ed-Tech and Fin-Tech brands are penetrating the audio space. This is usually because the kind of audience that is consuming podcasts is heavy on self-improvement content and is usually a target class that has the capability to have a certain amount of disposable income.

“I also see a lot of mic equipment and audio equipment brands like Shure and Logitech investing because it’s a natural fit for them. One of the key aspects for any podcast live is having a good quality mic that would ensure better audio, so it's the natural next step.”

For Roshan, brands have to trust the Creator. According to him, in the west, creator-voice advertising is much more successful in podcasting than displaying an ad. Because the minute we hear an ad, as an audience, we tend to zone out. “Creators endorsing a product kind of ads are huge in the West, it's happening in India as well. Brands will have to trust creators to come up with ideas but they don't stick out like a sore thumb,” he adds.

Subscription-based revenue is also one way of revenue. A lot of networks will give you a little gateway drug, they will play 20 minutes of the podcast and will ask you to subscribe to get the full episode, you will get behind the scenes, or get pictures. “If your show can build it from one medium to the other, there is a huge amount of revenue there,” Roshan quips.

Audio Content: Future Trends

On the shift from podcast to audio platforms like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and Greenroom, Roshan said, “This is what I always call the sea of sameness.”

“Social Audio worked when people had nothing else to do. Why is nobody on Clubhouse now? Because it was a phenomenon that was very lockdown induced. Now somebody needs to crack, how will you keep an engaged audience of the Clubhouse. It is all live streaming audio. Whoever understands LIVE will succeed on those kinds of platforms. I think Quiz Shows, Live Mystery or something that makes the audience not turn away from the audio can work”

Salil too believes that consumption pattern keeps changing with time so the future is hypersonic but it’ll need a crystal ball to predict what the listener will want beyond one month and till then keep creating and experimenting.

Though Viraj feels Social Audio Industry will see a steady increase of new users, he too believes that LIVE audio will not sustain as well as unsynchronised audio content, which is content that is readily available to consume at any point of time. “Podcasts will keep searching and finding newer audiences in the years to come. I also feel that India has about 5 to 7 years still to reach the peak of podcasting audience. We definitely have a long way to go.”

Also read: 4 tips from Instagram on Reels creation

Short Video Content

As we spoke to content creators, Anmol Sachar, Aashna Hegde, and Ashi Khanna, they shared how the Short Video content platforms have helped them grow as a creator.

Anmol says “Short videos seem to get a lot more traction and reach a larger audience. I suppose because platforms like Instagram, want to encourage more users to post more on Reels, hence reels pushed way more as compared to the traditional video posts.” Aashna too shared how Short video platforms have contributed to her growth as a creator. She said “It’s quick 15-second videos, you either like it or not. When you see such quick feedback on your videos, you get a better idea of what you should stick to and what you should change.”

Ashi says, “It promotes more engagement & reach to multiple profiles, i.e., it enables people who aren’t following you to see your content, which according to me is what every creator would want.”

Answering how things have changed since they started creating short-video content, Sachar said, “Previously, I would just repurpose my longer-form content into multiple short videos. However, seeing the reach and performance of my short-form content, I have now allotted a separate time slot in my daily schedule to create dedicated vertical short-form content.”

For Aashna she did a full 360. “I didn’t think I’d get so many opportunities and have such a lovely audience. I get to build a community, I get to explore more of my creative side & sometimes it’s hard to believe that this is my life! It’s amazing.”

Ashi says, “People want more of it, and so we provide it. The audience enjoys short videos as it’s easier to scroll and watch 10 videos rather than sitting down and watching a 10 min long video.”

Short Form vs Long-Form Content

Anmol prefers long-form content over short-form content. “You can play around so much - the story, script, edit when it’s long-form. Short-form is more of hopping onto trends and giving it your own unique take.”

Ashi however, is neutral towards both the formats, it is the best of both worlds! But for Aashna, “It’s difficult to choose because both of them allow her to experiment with the content.

Future Of Short-Video Content

With OG long-form platforms like YouTube pushing shorts so much, it’s clear that short-form content is here to stay. However, that doesn’t mean that long-form content will lose its place.

For short video Content, the future looks very very bright, says Anmol. Ashi thinks, since the pandemic, the world has started to rely more on the web for everything, including entertainment. “Short content is easily accessible for everyone, and not to forget, super addictive.”

With the world moving towards the post-pandemic phase, it would be interesting to see what the future beholds for these new content formats.

While experts believe that Audio Content would still be on the rise and Indian Audio Creators are all set to explore new avenues and formats, Social Audio as a phenomenon has seen a dip after the initial euphoria. The Platforms enabling Social Audio might supercharge efforts by onboarding Celebrities and Content Creators while ensuring that the time spent on the platforms sustain a certain number

Short Video Content still continues to democratize content creation and enable new creators to find their footing. The format has influenced consumption patterns over the past 18 months and is likely to become mainstream in the coming times.

What are your thoughts on the changing paradigms of Content Creation?

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