Scrolling through any social platform, you’re unlikely to find much in the way of audio clips going viral.
Stories, videos and images, yes, but audio clips of interviews or documentaries are few and far between.
In a 2014 article, writer Stan Alcorn outlined two major blockers to audio going viral. First, the ‘structural’ way that people listen to things, in their car or while working, does not typically encourage sharing. The second is that it’s hard to ‘skim’ audio content, like it is with text or video, social media’s most successful viral content formats.
“An instant of video is a still, a window into the action that you can drag through time at will. An instant of audio, on the other hand, is nothing.”
Apart from the BBC, which also has a huge TV operation, NPR is the only radio station that featured in our top 25 Facebook publisher list for January 2017. The rest are mainly newspaper brands, TV networks and digital native sites, all arguably better-placed to adapt their existing content for a social audience.
For radio stations that deal with vast quantities of the format every day, audio’s lack of shareability can be frustrating. There is a wealth of content from the main part of their business, but unlike video, ease of distribution isn’t there. While auto-playing native video took off to great effect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the last two years, a large part of its success lay with audio being muted by default.
Despite this, NPR have managed to grow their share of Facebook engagement on their own web content significantly in the last year. NewsWhip data shows that NPR.org increased engagements with its total web content on Facebook. Here’s how the site grew their Facebook engagements throughout 2016 and into early this year, shown in NewsWhip Analytics: