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Dec. 8, 2015, 3:02 p.m.
Audience & Social

Could Facebook be the next big platform for podcasts?

WNYC is experimenting with sharing “audiograms” on social networks, taking advantage of Facebook’s new video player.

Would you log into your Facebook account and listen to a podcast?

In some ways, it could make a lot of sense: People are spending tons of time on Facebook anyway, so why not listen to some audio while you’re there?

WNYC is experimenting with this exact concept: On Tuesday, it published a new, full-length episode of Here’s the Thing to the podcast’s Facebook page. In the 48-minute episode, host Alec Baldwin interviews Jimmy Fallon.

Facebook doesn’t allow direct audio uploads, so the podcast was uploaded as a video file; the audio plays over a static image. WNYC is calling it an “audiogram.”

The audiogram had more than 12,000 plays a few hours after posting, though it isn’t clear whether users listened to the full 48 minutes.

“Previously, we and other audio production companies were limited to linking to our owned and operated audio players or third-party players or apps,” Delaney Simmons, WNYC’s social media director, said. “This experiment is different…you don’t have to leave Facebook to consume it and the content itself is uploaded directly into a product feature within the Facebook universe.”

WNYC is also experimenting with sharing shorter “audiograms” on Twitter, as it first did last year. It’s tweeted them from @WNYC in breaking news situations, and it’s shared clips from the New Yorker Radio Hour on that show’s Twitter account.

Limetown experimented with a similar concept for its early episodes, uploading audio-based teasers as video files with static images; each got a few thousand plays. Recently, though, Limetown has begun simply linking to the SoundCloud and iTunes pages for new episodes.

“The results were strong given our overall page size on Facebook (good distribution to non-fans of the page and view count), but retention was low, as I’ve heard was fairly common on Facebook, given auto-play and the nature of the News Feed,” Limetown creator Skip Bronkie told me Tuesday. “Given this, we never released a full episode on Facebook.”

But WNYC plans to continue its Facebook audiogram experiments, testing different lengths and designs.

“We’re taking a lot of cues from the TV industry,” Simmons said. “How can we forward-promote our episodes? Can we upload audio sneak peeks, bonus clips, and Facebook exclusive episodes?”

And, she said, background listening — where a listener streams a podcast while doing other activities — is an area of interest. WNYC is already developing background listening capabilities for its own platforms, and Simmons noted that the new Facebook video player allows users to watch a video in the lower righthand corner of the screen while scrolling through the rest of Facebook.

“If a native [Facebook] audio player becomes a reality, we hope it would act similarly,” Simmons said.

[photocredit}Photo by SimonQ錫濛譙 used under a Creative Commons license.[/photocredit]

POSTED     Dec. 8, 2015, 3:02 p.m.
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