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From Small Businesses to Amazon: 5 Ways to Prepare for the Social Audio Future There should be no doubt that the future of marketing and social media will have a strong audio component.

By Peter Harengel Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Westend61 | Getty Images

Just as marketers and regular social media users perfected the art of creating well-written text and professional-looking photos and videos for their followers, they will soon have to figure out groundbreaking and innovative ways to appeal to users' ears. These five essential steps will have to be taken by any content creator or company that wants to add another dimension to their user and customer interaction.

1. Get used to creating audio content

The rise of content platforms like YouTube and Instagram generated an explosion of quality content from creators that are not necessarily professionals in their field. Instagram influencers quickly learned everything there is to learn about photo angles, lighting, décor, and every other element that comes into play when creating professional-looking photography, while YouTube content creators learned how to produce engaging and complex video content with much lower budgets than televisions and movie studios.

The content creators of the future will need to also learn how to produce top-quality audio content, in various forms that may not be even imagined yet. Nowadays everyone and their neighbor has a podcast, making the podcast-consuming market more and more diluted, although the audience numbers are constantly growing. Although they are currently overhyped, podcasts are a fantastic learning tool for anyone looking to expand their social media skills into audio territory. So starting a podcast will not necessarily fulfill your social media goals, but it will definitely prepare you for the future.

Related: Is Audio the Future of Social Media? Twitter's Jack Dorsey Thinks So.

2. Understand how customers interact with your business

The ways customers choose to interact with a company depend on many factors, such as the type of business the company provides and the characteristics of their client base. No matter what you sell and who you're selling to, the one constant in all businesses is the need to establish a close personal relationship with the customer, to make them feel like the company is actively working to satisfy their needs.

Of course, audio is currently used for many interactions between companies and their customers. However, having a customer representative ready to answer the phone and talk a customer through whatever issues they're experiencing is costly for the company, as it means that employees constantly need to be trained, but also annoying for the customer, because these interactions usually mean being on-hold for several minutes until an operator is ready to speak to you. The solution may come in the form of audio messages sent by customers and replied to by customer support also in the form of an audio message. This can help streamline the service by compiling a database of possible complains and using standard replies for multiple customers with the same issue.

3. Learn to add value to customer interactions

How a company responds to customer feedback may be as important for its future as the products or services it provides. A quick, personalized, and efficient customer service enhances the customers' opinion of the company, greatly enhancing its reputation.

Adding value to customer interactions also depends on the nature of the business and its customers, but when it comes to audio this usually translates to a warm but authoritative voice that offers exactly what the customer is looking for and maybe a little more, making them feel like a part of a community. People long for human interaction, whether they realize it or not; audio can be an efficient and cost-effective way to deliver that.

Related: 6 Ways to Make Money from Audio Content

4. Be willing to go outside the box

The internet rewards those who are willing to rewrite rules and overstep boundaries. Podcasts are a clear example of that; for many years traditional media and advertisers concluded that people have a very short attention span and need to be bombarded with attention-grabbing content every few minutes. Then podcasts became wildly popular, with most of them simply consisting of one or more people having random conversations for hours, the exact opposite of fast-paced content.

What stepping outside the box might mean in the social audio future is yet to be determined, but one thing that's clear is the fact that people like familiarity and human touch. A customer is much more likely to buy someone from a seller they trust and often visit physical stores just to have chat with an employee they know. Whoever manages to recreate that via audio will thrive.

5. Don't overdo it

As the old saying goes, don't put all your eggs in one basket. There are clear signs that audio will play a huge part in the future of marketing and social media, but that doesn't mean you should overinvest or overextend your business just to fit in with the latest trend.

Instead, you should determine exactly where audio fits within your business or how it can fulfill a need for your customers. Once you find it, you should slowly build on that without compromising too much or significantly changing the nature of your customer interaction. You can get the right balance either by waiting for the industry to provide you with options and simply implement them after they've been tested by others, or actively working towards the ideal audio-based customer interaction through trial and error. The former a more balanced approach, while the latter is a more high risk-high reward option.

From giants like Amazon to small and medium enterprises, everyone will have to adapt to new technologies and customer interaction approaches. It's very likely that the future belongs to whoever manages to implement audio-based solutions to their existing infrastructure and establish new ways to reach potential and existing buyers.

Related: Uber to Record Audio During Rides

Peter Harengel

Strategic Advisor

Peter Harengel is a strategic advisor to global business-to-consumer companies. His extensive experience in the entertainment industry helps companies to leverage ideas from creative industries for their clients.

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