Continually riding the wave of the next ‘big thing’ in social media is certainly a roller coaster ride, and we are now on the cusp of another major change. Voice search has been growing in popularity and is starting to have a transformational impact on the way marketers can influence people to know, like, trust, and eventually buy from a specific brand.
Today’s social media landscape is driven by text and images but this is already shifting as an increasing number of people opt for voice over text search. This makes complete sense. The average human can speak 150 words per minute, but only type 40 words during that time. Voice conveys emotion, tone, and subtleties that text is unable to capture and it allows users a hands-free, eyes-free experience.
According to Comscore by 2020 over 50 percent of all searches will be done by voice, and Gartner predicts that 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by next year too.
But speed of adoption is only one side of the coin. Google claims that voice searches are 30 times more likely to be action queries than text searches. In essence, people want to find places and buy things through their digital assistant. Standard desktop searches may indicate that people are simply looking for information, whilst mobile searches and voice searches are more likely to be from people who are trying to do something specific with the information they have to hand.
So voice is on the rise and it is more powerful, but how is this likely to impact social media? We need only look at the likes of HearMeOut, a voice-based social network that centres on 42-second voice recordings, to get an idea of the disruption we are about to experience in the way we consume social media.
HearMeOut has already targeted the Connected Car space which they believe is a natural fit for a voice-based social network, and as voice infiltrates our homes and continues to push text out of the way in our messengers it feels only natural that it is now getting social.
Voice is also starting to impact advertising as we see the emergence of voice-based advertising. Unlike static text or image ads, you can actually have a conversation (albeit limited) with voice ads. This approach to advertising is interactive, engaging, and highly effective for brands as a competitive differentiator. Early adopters of this voice-based social trend are likely to see some startling results.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors that will improve how voice search enables consumers to discover and engage with a given brand.
Voice content is perceived as being more personal and even more informal than text based content, and the inflection in the user’s voice adds nuances that mere text, albeit accompanied by emojis, can’t really convey.
However, whilst voice search is faster, more convenient and more accurate, marketers need to bear in mind that conversation is the basis of voice search. As a consequence content needs to have natural-sounding language. Picking up different accents and intonations still has some way to go and brands who refine this will be able to engage more readily and rapidly.
The long tail keyword
Voice search queries are usually longer than text searches and they are generally characterised by a question—typically three to five keywords long and starting with who, what, when, where, why, and how. Harnessing this shift in search means going from a focus around a specific keyword, such as “skis” to long tail keywords such "Rossignol giant slalom men’s skis”.
When a marketer is targeting a long tail keyword such as this they can more accurately predict the searcher’s intent, and with a clearer understanding of what the user is searching for, they can better tailor their content to those people who actually want their products or services.
Creating high quality content that is seen as informative and authoritative enough for Google to select can create an opportunity to be the answer to the questions voice searchers are asking. This starts with understanding search intent to create content that directly answers searchers’ queries. AI is now capable of tracking what type of queries people tend to search, which allows it to tailor responses to users accordingly.
The key for the marketer is to find out what their audience wants and repurpose it in ways that they can consume this content, irrespective of the platform, device or format.
Keeping up with expectations
There is no doubt that voice is set to become integral in more complex, multi-step activities. Voice search queries typically fall into four categories;30 percent general information, 27 percent personal assistant, 22 percent local information, and 21 percent fun and entertainment.
To make the most of this marketers need to consider the user experience across the entire journey. This means being at least a step ahead of the consumer, anticipating their on-the-go scenarios to adapt their messages to fit in with what the consumer really wants. A new era of flexible, agile marketing is already emerging to keep step with these consumers.
Voice search is increasingly going to enhance the way marketers can accurately target audiences and, as a consequence, reduce media wastage. Connecting consumers with the brands they already love and helping them find new ones to engage with is about ensuring your brand’s voice is clear, concise and always listening.
As technology breaks down the barriers between brands and consumers, voice is one of the most impactful ways to date of closing the gap. It does mean that marketers need to continually re-purpose the way they want to engage with consumers or they might miss a golden opportunity.
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