How virtual assistants might be the new social media

Steven Loeb · September 25, 2017 · Short URL:

Joe Biden launches a new podcast to be broadcast on Amazon Echo and Google Assistant

Presidents and presidential candidates using new technology to find ways to get their message out is nothing new. Think of FDR and his use of radio in his fireside chats back in the 1940s, or JFK's use of television in the 1960s.

In 2008, it was Barack Obama who used social media for the first time, something he continued to do as President. In 2016, Donald Trump took that strategy even further with his use of Twitter, in particular, to go around traditional media and deliver his message straight to his supporters. 

While some may ask, "How will future candidates use social media to advance their own brands and personal agenda?", the more interesting question has to be, "What will the new technologies be that allow them to do that?"

Given where technology seems to be going, the answer is most likely chatbots and virtual assistants. And we may have just seen the first use of such technology in a bid for the White House.

On Monday, it was revealed that Joe Biden, a man that many speculate will be seeking the office of the Presidency in 2020, has launched a new podcast in which the former Vice President will curate news articles to share with the public.

Biden’s Briefing features daily programs that run anywhere from three to 15 minutes. It will feature news articles that Biden thinks are informative or interesting from publishers that include Axios, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, MSNBC, New York Review of Books, Politico, Slate, Vice and Wired.

Each piece is read out loud; Biden introduces each segment, but doesn't read the entire article himself, though he will interject himself from time to time to give his own thoughts on what is being discussed. 

The rise of virtual assistants

The podcast is available on the usual podcast platforms, including iTunes, Spotify and TuneIn. More importantly, users will be able to access it on their Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice services. 

The virtual assistant market is on the rise. Market intelligence firm Tractica predicts that unique the number of active consumer users will grow from 390 million in 2015 to 1.8 billion worldwide by the end of 2021, an increase of 361 percent. Revenue is expected to grow from $1.6 billion to $15.8 billion in the same time frame, for growth of 887.5 percent.

By accessing these devices, Biden is not only tapping into a rapidly growing technology, but one that people use more intimately than other similar technologies. A survey from Creative Strategies found that people tend to use virtual assistants when they are alone. It found 39 percent saying that they use voice assistants in the home, 51 percent in the car, but only 1.3 percent at work and 6 percent in public.

Launching his podcast on home devices could be shrewd move for Biden, as it may help to create a more intimate relationship between him and his listeners, which could help if he does decide to run in 2020. 

Biden's goal

The podcast launched on Monday, and the first three articles Biden selected were one from Bloomberg about the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill; one from The Conversation regarding about victims of Hurricane Harvey; and the third is another from Bloomberg about how to sell infrastructure projects to the American people. 

In the intro to one of the articles, Biden made it clear what his goal is with this new podcast. It is, essentially, to reengage people with the news media and to help people branch out in their sources of information. 

"Biden's Briefing is my latest project. Each edition of the Briefing will feature articles, essays and posts that made an impression on me and that I want to share with you. Biden's Briefing isn't just a collection of stories I've enjoyed; it's part of a much bigger conversation. The world is changing quickly. Now, more than ever, we need to broaden our perspectives to be better informed. The better informed we are, the better decisions we can make and, by listening to one another, I believe we can arrive at a consensus," Biden said.

"Biden's Briefings will include a range of thoughts and opinions, some of which I agree with and some of which I don't, but all of which I think are worth spending some time thinking about."

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