Magazine article CRM Magazine

Voice-Based Microblogs Speak Volumes: How Speech Technology Can Improve Social Media Campaigns

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Voice-Based Microblogs Speak Volumes: How Speech Technology Can Improve Social Media Campaigns

Article excerpt

IN A FEW SHORT YEARS, Twitter and Facebook have become two of the most popular Web sites ever, largely because they have given voice to a segment of society that might otherwise not be heard. A new trend in microblogging takes this concept a step further, giving an actual voice to the posts one shares with fans and followers on social media. And while voice-based microblogging might sound as weird today as those 140-character tweets once did, it could be the next big thing for businesses looking to communicate better with their online customers, partners, and employees and for creating highly engaged social communities.

"It can be a good tool to make [customer] interactions more personal," says Kimberly Chau, an AMI-Partners marketing associate focused on social media. "It can give a company a personality, and it's very easy to do." "From a personal standpoint, anything that creates more trust online is good, and I could see this building trust," says Michael Fauscette, senior analyst and head of the Software Business Solutions Group at IDC. "From a business standpoint, this is perhaps a medium to build more customer engagement. I can also see a marketing angle."

"Engaging with potential and existing customers or clients via the spoken word can be much more effective and effectual" than text-only posts, adds Rob Proctor, CEO of Audioboo, a London-based voice messaging and microblogging platforms provider.

"Audio does a lot more than text-only," says Taylor Bollmann, CEO of San Francisco-based Yiip, a voice messaging platform provider. "If a product is something the consumer is really into, getting emotionally rich and entertaining content [in the form of a voice file] is really cool."

Company bloggers and social media managers can create the voice files--with catchy names like "bubs," "bleeps" "bubbles," or "boos," depending on the service provider--with little effort, using their phones or Internet-connected PCs or tablets. Most services require little more than pushing one button to record and one to send. These files can be embedded into Twitter or Facebook updates, sent via text message or email, or stored to a Web site. Files can be set to be heard by anyone or by restricted groups of followers.

With these files, companies have more flexibility in communicating some concepts that are too involved to be relayed in simple 140-character tweets. This could be of particular interest to businesses that need to share complex and highly technical instructions with users of their products.

Chau predicts that voice microblogging will first take hold in the tech field--enabling companies to talk to consumers and prospects about their products, how to use them, and how to overcome problems--and then trickle down to other industries.

Media and entertainment companies have already started. The BBC, Sky News, and the Royal Opera House are frequent users of Audioboo, and they encourage listeners to respond to the online audio with their own voice comments and share those comments with their friends and family, creating ongoing dialogues and energizing their fan bases.


Companies can also use the technology for internal communications. Businesses are already adopting enterprise social software--applications deployed on top of traditional CRM and collaboration tools to enable file sharing through microblogs, wikis, shared spaces, and communities--so this is a logical progression, many assert.

Yiip, for example, is working to layer voice messaging into corporate social networking apps such as's Chatter. Bollmann says Yiip's voice messaging capabilities can be applied to any business collaboration tool with open application programming interfaces.

"These applications provide enterprises with several advantages, including increased transparency, better communication of business ideas and information, flexibility, and performance, along with simplified operation," research firm MarketsandMarkets concluded in a recent report. …

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