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Twitter’s New Audio Feature Shows the Value of Combining Voice and Digital

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Twitter recently introduced a new feature that will allow users to tweet with their voice. A single voice tweet will capture up to 140 seconds of audio and a thread will be automatically arranged as you keep speaking. People will see your tweet in their timeline alongside other content. And to hear your audio, they’ll tap the image. Playback will start in a new window, allowing users to listen as they scroll or do other things on their phone.

The latest feature is initially available only to a limited group of people on Twitter for iOS. In the coming weeks, however, everyone on Apple’s mobile operating system should be able to create voice tweets. The company didn’t specify when Android device owners will be able to join in.

Audio tweets are bound to change how people engage with Twitter as they’ll now have to listen to posts, instead of reading them. And this will also influence the way customers want to interact with companies, further underlying the importance of digital support and asynchronous interactions.

The future is not voice vs digital, it’s simplicity

People’s communication habits are rapidly evolving as phone calls give way to digital channels. Messaging apps alone are processing over 40 million messages every minute. And young generations, in particular, are embracing online conversations. WhatsApp usage in the US, for instance, is the highest among young adults with 44% of those aged between 18 and 24 using this app.

Communicating via messaging apps, social media, and other digital channels is popular because it’s convenient. People don’t have to drop everything to take a phone call nor are they forced to tolerate long waiting times just to reach a support agent. Instead, they can send and read messages when and where they want, enjoying asynchronous voice communication. And acting on this trend by allowing customers to reach you through various channels is vital as 72% of people want to interact with agents via the channel of choice.

Hence, the future of communication is not about the competition between voice versus digital but rather about combining the two. Twitter’s new feature is in line with this approach. It’s centered around brevity and simplicity and giving users options to express their opinion or concerns through different formats.

Audio messages are highly popular on messaging apps

Using audio messages is a common and highly popular habit on messaging apps. WhatsApp users send over 200 million voice messages every day, while audio is the second most popular form of file shared on Messenger, after photos. These figures have probably also inspired Twitter to launch audio tweets.

Voice messaging saves time for users. They can do it while walking or between two meetings. Voice can also better convey emotions than bare text and give a high sense of connection. You don’t lose context, unlike when making a phone call. And you can mix voice messages with other elements, such as text, pictures, videos, and GIFs.

Now that audio tweets are available, customers could use it to send public inquiries. Brands must be ready to react quickly and equip agents with the right tools to answer. And growing popularity of digital channels means that many customers are likely to use voice tweeting to share their positive and negative experiences online.

Lockdowns have increased the use of video and voice communications

The launch of a new Twitter function comes at a time when people increasingly use digital channels to stay in touch with friends and family amidst COVID-19-induced restrictions. Video and voice communications have replaced in-person interactions.

Facebook reported that, for instance, total messaging over WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram in March was up by more than 50%. And time in group calls with three or more participants rose over 1,000% in the same month. In Spain, which was especially hit hard by coronavirus, WhatsApp usage increased by 76% as citizens were in lockdown and couldn’t leave their place of residence for several months. China’s local social media apps observed similar trends.

The new communication habits made even more people aware of the ease and convenience of digital channels. Customers will now expect the same experience when dealing with companies. Instead of phone and email support, they’ll demand the freedom to contact your business via familiar apps and enjoy asynchronous interactions. And if people are unhappy with the service, they’ll share their frustration with thousands of friends on social media and messaging apps.

Embracing the next generation of customer engagement with a future-proof strategy

With the latest announcement, Twitter is moving towards a future that meets the expectations of its users. And the launch of audio tweets signals that the future lies in the combination of text and voice with conversational interfaces. Brands should monitor these trends and think about integrating them in their customer service. While the feature is only available to a limited group of people for now, it could become more widely used in the coming months.

One way to go about that is by adopting a future-proof engagement solution that can adapt to digital channels new features. Centralizing digital support channels into a single platform allows agents to interact with customers with ease, instead of switching between various interfaces. RingCentral has a range of solutions that meet these needs. You can learn more about these products and explore how to use our platform to increase customer satisfaction, improve agent productivity, and ultimately generate higher revenue.

Originally published Jul 08, 2020, updated May 26, 2021

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