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Social Media Marketing for Business

Brooks Tiffany


May 22, 2014

New Facebook Audio Recognition Feature – a New Way to Engage Consumers

Facebook announced that it would be adding an audio recognition feature that automatically tags status updates, yesterday. Read on to find out all about this new feature and its implications.

Do you remember the “feelings” status feature that Facebook added last year? Your friends could reveal an array of feelings that covered the emotional spectrum, letting you know whether they were happy, sad, excited, or exhausted (and much, much, more.)

Facebook Audio Recognition 1

Source: Facebook

You could also post an update about your activities such as what you were watching or listening to by typing in the name of the movie, show, or artist and selecting from a list of suggestions.

According to Facebook, users shared over 5 billion status updates just like those over the last year.

Facebook’s audio recognition feature is an extension of those updates, making it even easier for you to post about your current activities. One need only have the feature turned on while making a post to have it recognize what you are hearing or watching and tag the post with it.

Facebook breaks it down for you: “that means if you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing.”

Facebook Audio Recognition 2

Source: Facebook

Pretty cool, huh? The feature is reportedly able to listen in and detect said song/movie/show in under 15 seconds!

For those of you concerned that Facebook will be able to listen in on you at anytime, don’t worry. In line with its reaffirmed commitment to privacy, Facebook repeatedly stressed that 1.) it’s a feature you can turn on or off at any time, 2.) the sound isn’t stored, but only used to match while posting, and 3.) it’s not designed to record conversations or other things that may be going on.

So, now that we know what this new feature is and that it’s not going to spy on us, let’s find out how it works.

How the Facebook Audio Recognition Feature Works

Using the Facebook audio recognition feature is actually quite simple. If the feature is turned on when you go to make a status update, you’ll see a set of audio bars fluctuating in the top-right corner of your screen; this indicates that Facebook is trying to make a match with the millions of songs or 150+ television channels it has indexed.

If it finds a match you can choose to include it as part of your status update and, as always, you can choose who you want to share the status update with.

If it doesn’t find a match, it could be due to too much background noise, the song not being indexed, or the show not being on one of the recorded channels; these are a few of the limitations that Facebook will be looking to alleviate by honing their tech and expanding their library as they move forward.

To turn the feature off you need only click on the dancing audio bars to the top-right.

Facebook Audio Recognition 3

Source: Facebook

If you share music, your friends will be able to listen to 30 second samples through apps like Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer.

If it’s a TV show, you might expect a 30 second trailer but Facebook will merely show the name of the show, the season and episode number, and a link to the page, due to licensing limitations.

However, the bright side is that this might also also help us avoid the spoiler pitfalls that plague the news feed. I think we all know how that feels – getting through the news feed without having Game of Thrones spoiled has become an art form for many of us.

Trouble for Shazam and Twitter?

Facebook reportedly built this feature from scratch with an in-house team over the last year and it’s expected to cause trouble for audio recognition champion, Shazam, and media-conversation mogul, Twitter.

Currently, Shazam has the edge on Facebook in number of songs it’s able to identify with a library of over 25 million versus Facebook’s 2 million or so. This means that Shazam is the far better option for those that are looking to identify tracks that fall off the beaten path.

However, Facebook’s library is poised to grow and its audio recognition feature is reportedly faster than Shazam’s.

Facebook’s audio recognition feature also has less friction since they remove a step from the sharing process: for instance, a user might now identify a song with Shazam, but would have to link with Facebook or Google+ to post, whereas Facebook cuts out the start-and-stop linking process by making the audio match in-app while typing the post. Less friction = better experience.

By making the in-the-moment media experience so easy to share, we may see Facebook cut Shazam out of the audio ID picture while also stealing Twitter’s thunder as the go-to media conversation platform.

Instead of massing around hashtags, we might see people connecting around matched audio tags such as this weekend’s Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat game. Want to talk with others about the game while you’re watching? – just start posting.

Marketing Magic – A New Way to Engage Consumers

This new feature is another step in the right direction as Facebook wants to be the premier place where people hang out and have discussions over current events and various topics they are passionate about.

As always, the more ways you provide for people to connect with one another, the more likely they are to hang out and have a conversation. The more people that are hanging out and having a conversation (aka exchanging data,) the more ways you provide for brands to research and do the same.

Facebook’s audio recognition feature will inevitably lead to another priceless mountain of data that can help brands identify, target, and engage their audience.

Imagine being able to pick out the people who cared enough about a sports team to check in and have a conversation with others while watching the game, or love a music artist so much that their posts are inundated with audio tags by them.

But this isn’t just an opportunity to crunch numbers and advertise, it’s also a chance to engage fans on a new level through meaningful actions and conversation with your brand.

Facebook Audio Recognition 4

Source: Facebook

When Can You Expect This?

Facebook’s audio recognition feature will be rolling out on Android and IOS devices (U.S. only) over the coming weeks so keep an eye out and start thinking of ways you can use this to reach out to and engage people on a whole new level.

If you want to capitalize on Facebook’s new audio recognition feature and drive more engagement, email captures, and sales, click here to sign up, and we’ll show you how to launch a mobile optimized campaign that converts at 10% or higher.

Tell us what you think and we may quote you in a future article:

How will you put Facebook’s audio recognition feature to use? Do you think Facebook will be able to steal Twitter and Shazam’s thunder? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Brooks Tiffany


Brooks Tiffany is the Customer Engagement Leader and Technical Writer at Heyo in Blacksburg, VA. He's an Air Force veteran with a B.A. in English from Virginia Tech. He'll start pursuing an M.S. in Human Centered Design and Enginnering at the University of Washington this Fall.