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Reddit Looks to Boost Reddit Talks Discovery, Adds New Soundboard Option

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Reddit Looks to Boost Reddit Talks Discovery, Adds New Soundboard Option

Reddit’s looking to improve discovery of audio rooms in its app, via its Reddit Talks option, with a new showcase of in-progress sessions across the top of the main screen, which will now present rooms from both subreddits that you follow, and those that you may be interceded in.

As you can see in this example, the live bar on your Reddit home feed will now surface talks that you may be interested in based on topics chosen by the creator of the Reddit Talks session. Reddit will then present these links to users in related communities.

“For example, if u/Reddit_IRL wants to talk about house plants, then they can select that as their topic, and redditors who are subscribed to plant-related communities will be able to see u/Reddit_IRL talk in the live bar.”

That could be a good way to get Reddit Talks sessions in front of more users – though it could also be misused, with hosts adding random topics to maximize reach. Still, it’s only along the top of the app, and given it’s not overly intrusive, it likely won’t have a big impact on general usage.

Reddit’s also looking to make it easier for users to start a Reddit Talk session, with some users now able to host talks directly from their profiles.

“Hosting a Talk on your profile is simple! You’ll go into the post creator and click Start Talk, from there you’ll be prompted to select a topic (or topics) that are relevant to your Talk topic.”

That could get more audio sessions happening in the app, by making it easier for Redditors to understand that the option is available to them. Twitter added similar this week within its own tweet composer flow.

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And to make things even more exciting, Reddit’s also adding a new soundboard feature in Reddit Talks chats.

“The soundboard will be available on desktop first starting next month and will have eight available sounds: air horn, tada, drumroll, sad trombone, applause, boing, cha-ching, and ba-dum-tss. Use the sounds to liven up the room, play games, or add extra emphasis to the conversation.”

Reddit Talks soundboard

So there’s that.

Finally, Reddit’s also launching a new Reddit Talk Host Program to encourage participation, which will include both in-app and IRL rewards, including Reddit Talk hoodies, branded mics, additional promotion in-stream and more.

Reddit Talks Host Program

People interested in applying for the program can find out more here.

As with all audio social options, it’s hard to say whether Reddit Talks will ever become a key element of the app, with most people now moving on from audio engagement options due to quality and discovery issues.

That, at least theoretically, should be less of an issue on Reddit, because the talks that you see are based on the subreddits that you’ve joined, or related interests, so they should be more specifically relevant to you, without Reddit having to build algorithms to highlight the best sessions to each user in real time.

Maybe that will make it a more valuable consideration, but thus far, only 500 of Reddit’s 100,000 active communities have had access to the option, so it’s a little hard to make a judgment at this stage.

In general, social audio options have lost their shine, and much of their audience, but it’s possible that Reddit could buck the trend, and make Reddit Talk a more relevant aspect of the in-app experience.

Though I’m not sure adding a soundboard will do it. It just reminds me of those generic breakfast radio shows, which could see Reddit Talks sessions decline into messes of audio clips – or knowing Reddit, it could end up sparking bizarre new audio trends, where users communicate only using a single soundboard clip at random intervals.

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Maybe it becomes a thing, maybe it falls flat, but there may still be some potential for audio rooms in subreddits.

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TikTok Scales Back Live-Stream Commerce Ambitions, Which Could Be a Big Blow for the App

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TikTok Expands Test of Downvotes for Video Replies, Adds New Prompts to Highlight its Safety Tools

TikTok’s facing a significant reassessment in its business expansion plans, with the company forced to scale back its live eCommerce initiative in Europe and the US due to operational challenges and lack of consumer interest.

TikTok has been working to integrate live-stream shopping after seeing major success with the option in the Chinese version of the app. But its initial efforts in the UK have been hampered by various problems.

As reported by The Financial Times:

“TikTok had planned to launch the feature in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the first half of this year, before expanding into the US later in 2022, according to several people briefed on the matter. But the expansion plans have been dropped after the UK project failed to meet targets and influencers dropped out of the scheme, three people said.”

TikTok has since refuted some of FT’s claims, saying that the reported timeline for its commerce push is incorrect, and that it’s focused on fixing problems with its UK operation before expanding, which is still in its roadmap. But the basis – that its program is not going as smoothly as planned – is correct. 

TikTok’s UK shopping push has also faced internal problems due to conflicts over working culture and management.

Last month, reports surfaced that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had been imposing tough conditions on its UK commerce staff, including regular 12-hour days, improbable sales targets, and questions over entitlements.

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Now, it seems like the combination of challenges has led to a new growth dilemma for the app – which once again underlines the variance between Asian and western app usage trends.

Social media and messaging apps have become a central element of day-to-day life in several Asian countries, with apps like China’s WeChat and QQ now used for everything from purchasing train tickets to paying bills, to buying groceries, banking, and everything in between.

That spells opportunity for western social media providers, with Meta, in particular, looking to use the Chinese model as a template to help it translate the popularity of WhatsApp and Messenger into even more ubiquitous, more valuable functionality, which could then make them critical connective tools in various markets, solidifying Meta’s market presence.

But for various reasons, Chinese messaging trends have never translated to other markets.

Meta’s Messenger Bots push in 2016 failed to gain traction, and after its Messenger app became ‘too cluttered’ with an ever-expanding range of functionalities, including games, shopping, Stories, and more, Meta eventually scaled back its messaging expansion plans, in favor of keeping the app aligned with its core use case.

Meta then turned to WhatsApp, and making messaging a more critical process in developing markets like India and Indonesia. That expansion is still ongoing, but the signs, at present, don’t suggest that WhatsApp will ever reach the same level of ubiquity that Chinese messaging apps have.

Which then leads to TikTok, the world-beating short-form video app, which has seen massive growth in China, leading to whole new business opportunities, and even market sectors, based on how Chinese users have adapted to in-app commerce.

The Chinese version of TikTok, called ‘Douyin’, generated $119 billion worth of product sales via live broadcasts in 2021, an 7x increase year-over-year, while the number of users engaging with eCommerce live-streams exceeded 384 million, close to half of the platform’s user base.

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Overall, the Chinese live-stream commerce sector brought in over $300 billion in 2021. For comparison, the entire US retail eCommerce market reached $767 billion last year.

Given this, you can see why TikTok would view this as a key opportunity in other markets as well – but as noted, Chinese market trends are not always a great proxy for other regions.

The decision to scale back its eCommerce ambitions is a significant blow to TikTok’s expansion plans, not only from a broader revenue perspective (and worth noting, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance recently cut staff due to ongoing revenue pressures), but also in regards to revenue share, and providing a pathway for creators to make money from their efforts in the app.

Unlike YouTube, TikTok clips are too short to add mid and pre-roll ads, which means that creators can’t simply switch on ads to make money from their content. That means that they need to organize brand partnerships to generate income, and on Douyin, in-stream commerce has become the key pathway to exactly that.

Without in-stream product integrations as an option, that will significantly limit creator earnings capacity in the app, which could eventually see them switch focus to other platforms, where they can more effectively monetize their output.

Which may not seem like a major risk, but that’s exact what killed Vine, when Vine creators called for a bigger share of the app’s revenue, then switched to Instagram and YouTube instead when Vine’s parent company Twitter refused to provide such.

Could TikTok eventually face a similar fate?

TikTok, of course, is much bigger than Vine ever was, and is still growing. But limited monetization opportunities could end up being a big challenge for the app – while it also continues to face scrutiny over its impact on youngsters, and the potential for it to be used as a surveillance tool by the Chinese Government.

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In isolation, it may not seem like a major move, scaling back its eCommerce ambitions just slightly as it reassesses the best approach. But it’s a significant shift, which will slow down TikTok’s broader expansion. And it could end up hurting the app more than you, initially, would think.

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