Here’s a small but very real problem that podcast creators run into: Once an episode is published, the creator probably wants to promote it. But on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, all they can really do is post a link. There’s no easy way let their followers listen to an interesting snippet of the podcast from right inside of most social apps.
Anchor, a shortform podcasting app, is trying to solve that with a new feature it’s launching today. The app now lets podcasters automatically turn their recordings into into stylish video clips, complete with voice transcriptions. Podcast creators can then post those clips to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social platforms that allow video to be embedded, so that people can check out the podcast without having to leave the app. In fact, they won’t even have to turn on audio, because they can just watch the transcription roll by.
The video clips have been in testing with a small number of users, including Crooked Media (home of Pod Save America) and The Verge (which, full disclosure, is the site you’re currently reading). You can see an example above. The videos can be exported in portrait, landscape, or square format, to fit whichever platform they’re being sent to.
“Literally since we started Anchor, one of the biggest things we heard from podcasters is that audio is really tough to share on social media,” says Mike Mignano, Anchor co-founder and CEO. Though Anchor is largely home to amateurs who may have less interest in promoting their podcasts than the people behind a large network like Crooked Media, Mignano tells The Verge that he thinks both “top-tier podcasters and someone just getting started on Anchor” will find value in the app’s new tool.
I think the clips are a good solution for podcast creators looking for ways to promote their shows. I ended up listening to some snippets I otherwise would have missed, because they were posted to Twitter, which I check all the time. But there are some big limitations at launch. The main one is that these videos are all or nothing right now. You have to transform the entire podcast into a video. There’s no way to pick out just one interesting snippet, which to me seems more ideal. You could hook people with something catchy and have them click through for more.
And while Anchor’s automatic transcriptions are good, you’ll still end up having to edit them a bit. One test clip that Anchor sent The Verge, using audio from our own channel, missed several words and incorrectly identified several others, like “your” for “you’re” and “here” for “hear.” That’s a hard thing to get right, but editing it later wouldn’t be as bad if you were able to pull out a shorter clip.
Anchor launched late last year and has iterated a bit in the time since to make the app work better for amateurs who want to start podcasting. The app lets its users start a channel and publish audio clips up to five minutes long, all of which disappear after 24 hours. It’s sort of like a weird mix between Twitter and Snapchat, where users post short snippets of audio that their followers have to regularly come back to see. It’s a fun service to play around with, but it’s not clear how much it’s caught on just yet, but for now, Anchor is declining to reveal a stats on usage.