Some Quick Thoughts About Audioboo

If there's one thing I've been blessed with in this life, it's being surrounded by incredibly interesting, articulate people. Often, I feel the urge to capture the conversations I have with people so that others can listen in and get a sense of their insight and humor. Consequently, I am becoming addicted to using audio blogging services like AudioBoo and Cinch (in fact, I may soon fashion my thoughts into an extensive comparison article between the two services). These services allow you to use your iPhone as a recording device, capture a brief exchange, then upload it to the internet where it can be instantenously and automatically published on services like Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I have tried to reach out to Audioboo before on their forums and on Twitter, but have never gotten a response from them to any of my concerns. Recently, they apologized for not responding to me and asked me what my problem(s) with the service was. Rather than trying to reply to them via Twitter, which is incredibly restrictive with its 140-character limit, I'm going to provide some of my thoughts on the service below.

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So, Audioboo here are my concerns with your service, and why Cinch may soon overtake you as my audio blogging platform of choice:

1) The 5-minute time-limit - This limit is restrictive and while I'm sure the bandwidth to maintain your site is already astronomical, the current time limit simply will not allow you to compete with a site like Cinch, which has no time limit. It's a hell of a lot easier to record a conversation (which, let's admit, is already a fairly daunting task) without having to check the timer every 10 seconds.

2) Your community support is nonexistent/terrible - When I created my first Cinchcast, I was inundated with comments and Twitter messages from Cinch's community manager and the founder of the service (who also created BlogTalkRadio). I created another Cinchcast a few nights later, and the founder of the service took time to comment on that one too. It was incredibly encouraging. I felt like my use of this service was creating content that could be valuable and thought-provoking. That is, after all, part of the way to fulfill the potential of these audio blogging sites, I imagine.

My assumption is that a new startup web service such as Audioboo would want to reach out to its most active users in some way. I have spent many countless hours creating content for AudioBoo, which essentially amounts to tons of free advertising for your site. I consider several of these conversations to be interesting/entertaining, although you may certainly disagree. Either way, the number of messages/comments I've gotten from Audiboo employees (other than your Tweet reaching out to me): Zero.

3) The profile options on your website are abysmal - Seriously, this is absolutely embarrassing: A huge part of the reason people use your site is to put their Audioboos on Twitter. But when I go to a person's profile page, there's no easy way for me to find a person's Twitter username. In fact, there are basically no display options for ANY personal information whatsoever! Moreover, there's no way to contact someone if I like a boo (other than leaving a comment, but that's usually where the conversation ends by necessity). How can you possibly hope to build a community of users this way if you don't have even the most basic social features on your site, other than commenting? Or maybe you don't expect to...but if not, then why the hell not?

4) No easily-accessible counter for hits - Content-creation services like Youtube and Vimeo have an easy way for me to see how many views my videos have received. Presumably, you know how many times an Audioboo has been clicked, but you don't have any easy way for me to access this information. Thankfully, you provide a Google Analytics option, but is it so hard to have a hit counter? Seeing which boos are more popular than others helps me to refine the content I produce for any site, and I consider it an essential part of my creative process.

There are many things you do better than Cinch, Audioboo, but the purpose of this post is to enumerate the things that could use improvement on your site. So, what say you? Are these concerns valid? Are my expectations unrealistic? Please let me know.

3 comments :: Some Quick Thoughts About Audioboo

  1. Hi David - @markrock from Audioboo

    Firstly, an apology for the team missing your support requests. We're a small (UK) startup without anything as fancy as a community manager and the dev team and myself manage queries as regularly as we can. I've also seen 2 of the team handle 8 requests today (a Saturday) and I've done a couple, so don't quite know what happened to yours. I will endeavor to find out.

    Time limit. Hmm. I'd love to give your loads more time but we're in this for the long haul and I can't for the life of me get my spreadsheets to show me how giving everyone unlimited recording is going to work. Not without us plastering adverts everywhere, which we don't want to do. There will be a paid for product out soon which allows for longer recording and am happy to put you on the beta for that.

    The community support issue may be location based. We're in a different time zone obviously and it could just be we're missing any realtime feedback simply because we're asleep!

    Profile options - yup. Absolutely abysmal. It's one of many things on the whiteboard (2 whiteboards actually) and your mention of it makes me blush with shame.

    Play hits - again, we're crap. We are catching these (and they are available through the API) and will get them on the site as soon as we can.

    We're constantly juggling a whole host of things - server availability, improvements to the iPhone app (and developing the Android, Nokia & Blackberry ones), website design etc etc... Having said that, posts like this keep us on our toes so I can only thank you for the feedback and hopefully it'll hurry a few things along internally.

    Regards

    @markrock

  2. Mark,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Mark! A couple of things:

    1) I meant to clarify this in the post but: Of COURSE I don't think you should provide unlimited bandwidth for people. The business model just wouldn't work But I would say that 5-minutes is STILL too restrictive (I think 10-minutes would make a big difference). As for paid subscriptions for longer recording, I think this is a fantastic idea, although I have been hearing about this idea for months so I'm eager to find out your timeline for this. I should also add that I personally would not be willing to pay for anything until the other elements I described in my post are improved dramatically. Other people's opinions on this will probably vary.

    2) Regarding developing a community, I feel like there are many low-cost things you could be doing, but you are not. For example, I got a newsletter from you, which was really helpful in making me feel connected to the Audioboo community. But that only happened one time. Keeping something like this up, or doing similar things in the social media space, would help you immensely I feel.

    I'm sure there are people in the Audioboo community that would be willing to produce text content for you for free. I am one of them. Perhaps blog posts highlighting and describing some notable audioboos? Perhaps interviews with some major audioboo users? The sky is the limit.

    3) Re: profile options and hit counts - Great! Hope to see these soon, as profile customization options are extremely basic for even Web 1.0, let alone Web 2.5, which is what I think you guys are.

    I hope you know I'm only being so harsh because I love your service and want to continue using it. Thanks again for taking my concerns seriously!

  3. David - great stuff.

    We truly know we're shite in a whole load of areas and it's feedback like this that keeps us going. For instance, we launched without Twitter support (unbelievable thinking about it now) and it was only feedback from our users that made us add it.

    Newsletter - thanks for reminding me!

    And thank you for loving the service. It's what gets us out of bed in the morning!

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