1. Updating data privacy

In 2021, it is no surprise that data privacy is still one of the most prominent topics of discussion centred around social media and the Internet.

Between data breaches and allegations that social media networks are selling user data to other companies, people have been made more aware of how easy it can be for companies to find and misuse their personal information.

While concerns around data privacy have become more popular, the Covid-19 pandemic spurred a significant increase in the amount of personal data and content being shared online.

This increase in the number of social media users and the amount of content available has necessitated the personalisation of advertised content. However, for personalisation to be effective at scale on social media, people need to feel comfortable trusting platforms with their personal data.

For this reason, we should expect to see social media networks try to rebuild their credibility and reputation by enhancing their cybersecurity and adopting measures that protect users' private data. This includes privacy automation features that will automatically collect, group and present the data to the user.

By updating their data privacy policies, companies and social media networks will also be able to position themselves using consumer privacy as a competitive advantage, as users will be drawn to the platforms they deem more trustworthy.

One company that has updated its privacy policy recently is Apple, with the introduction of its App Tracking Transparency, which asks iOS users for permission before sharing their data with third parties, such as Facebook.

With Google considering the development of a similar app tracking policy, it appears the trend of shifting the control of user data from companies back to users has officially gained traction.

2. The rise of social audio

Did you know that last year during lockdown, voice-notes became a popular social lifeline for many affected by the turmoil that isolation brought us?

The need to connect using less intrusive mediums grew the habit of audio-on and camera-off. The voice-note became that perfect medium between the intimacy of a phone call, the control of a text and the self-indulgent platform for a monologue without interruptions.

Magdalene Abraha of the Guardian wrote, "The unedited flow of a voice note permits a means of communication that feels more genuine to both participants."

This more genuine and intimate form of communication via audio has just continued to spike, with dating apps such as Bumble adapting to include a voice note feature and new apps like String, positioning their entire offering on dating with your voice.  

String co-founder Tinashe was quoted, "Why not do the natural thing and use your voice to communicate? We think voice notes allow people to show their true personality in a much more fun and impactful way."

We can't talk about audio apps, without mentioning the sudden surge, or 'aural renaissance' in social audio platforms that's been driven by the latest 'social darling', Club House. The channel is promising a community and authentic connection via an audio-first experience.

Open Influence CEO Eric Dahan says that audio-social apps are a natural evolution in audio marketing, looking at aligning with that need for a more interactive version of a podcast.

"Podcasting is a one-to-one experience where there's a host and a guest. It's not in real-time and it's not interactive. Clubhouse is asking how they can take what's working in podcasts and make it more social," adds Dahan.

With platforms like Twitter and Facebook following suit and launching their own audio-chat products, we'll soon need to look at whether our audience is playing in this space and how we need to adapt to engaging with them in this new context.

So what does this mean for marketers? Do we start creating audio personalities for our brands — ones that humanise our online tone of voice, display our brand values, and core identity — and cultivate a deeper empathy between our audiences and ourselves?

Do we partner with the right influencers to authentically migrate into these conversations in a way that is not seen as obtrusive? Do we look at providing utility versus entertainment for our audience?

These are all important questions to be answered when we lean more into audio-on strategies.

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