They’ve both been in the works for a little bit and have been tested in various forms. But now, Facebook is officially rolling out its new live audio rooms option, as well as podcast discovery and playback within the app.
First off, on audio rooms, Facebook’s answer to the Clubhouse-lead audio social trend. After announcing the coming option back in April, then testing it with users in Taiwan over the last month, Facebook is now bringing its live audio rooms feature to selected public figures and Facebook Groups in the US and we can expect it to be rolled out worldwide imminently.
As you can see above, audio rooms launched by people and/or groups that you follow will appear at the top of your Facebook News Feed, above the Stories panel. Which may point to the value that Facebook sees in the option – but then again, it’s also where your Messenger Rooms video hangouts already appear, so it’s largely in-line with that option.
Users will be able to sign-up for reminders of upcoming audio rooms, similar to events, while you’ll also be able to tap into audio rooms from feed posts (as shown in the second screenshot above).
The UI of Facebook’s audio rooms very similar to Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, with profile images of the room hosts at the top, then listeners below that.
You’ll also see below that there’ll be a ‘Front Row’ in the listener display, which will be reserved for paying subscribers.
As explained by Facebook:
“Listeners can also offer support and show appreciation to the public figure host of the Live Audio Room by sending Stars, which bumps those listeners up to the “front row.” The “front row” is a special section that highlights people who sent Stars, so hosts can recognise supporters (and maybe even give them a shout out during the conversation!).”
That’ll provide another way for creators to monetise their Facebook efforts, with Stars being displayed on-screen to get the attention of the host.
Hosts will be able to invite speakers in advance, or choose listeners during the stream to join the conversation. For audio rooms within Facebook Groups, admins will be able to control whether moderators, group members or other admins are able to create a Live Audio Room.
“In public Groups, both members and visitors can listen to the Live Audio Room, but in private Groups, only members can listen.”
Rooms will be limited to 50 speakers, while there’s no limit to the number of listeners that can tune in. In addition to this, Live Audio Room hosts will also be able to select a nonprofit or fundraiser to support during their conversation, with listeners and speakers able to donate in-stream.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also officially launching its new podcast support options, which will enable users to discover and listen to podcasts, without having to leave the app.
Facebook’s been testing the new options over the last month, and is now set to launch with a selected group of popular podcasters.
“To start, the initial slate of podcasts will include Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast; “Jess Hilarious” of Carefully Reckless from The Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio; Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek of the LadyGang; and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro. We’ll continue to add more podcasts in the coming weeks.”
As noted, both options have been in development for some time, so it’s no surprise, as such, to see them get a proper launch. But it is a significant next step for The Social Network, which is looking to build in more monetisation and promotion options for creators of all types, in order to provide more incentive for them to post to Facebook, and keep their audiences engaged on the platform.
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