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An Analysis of Anchor: The First True Public Radio

Alana Patton

Haven’t heard of Anchor yet? No worries. You’re not alone. The app proclaims itself as the first true public radio. Anyone in social media knows that apps come and go…or come and reawaken.

The latest app to hit the market and claim to change the world is Anchor. The purpose of Anchor is so different than other apps that foster two-way communication. My interest in Anchor led me to a weeklong experiment using the app as religiously as I would any other well-adopted social networking app. Well, almost a week – more on that later.

Why Is Anchor different?

People record waves (sound bites up to two minutes) and others can directly reply with their own waves under one minute. The app interface reminds me most of Vine. There’s one main feed and playlists to search ranging from #News to #Movies with suggested playlists to explore. It’s really, really simple.

5 Anchor Pros

  1. Hearing someone’s voice is very intimate. I felt much more connected to the people I engaged with on Anchor compared to text-based platforms. A person’s voice can reveal so much about them.
  2. Consequently, waves feel extremely thoughtful. Most every wave I received started with my name and ended on a positive note like “great perspective” or “thanks for raising the question.” Other platforms cater to our need for convenience. Anchor isn’t conducive to speedy use. The difference was unwelcome at first, but toward the end of the week the sacrifice for time was worth the personalization and warm fuzzy waves received in return.
  3. Anchor is an on-demand focus group. I asked a variety of questions throughout the week ranging from life questions to social media trends. I loved that I could quickly gather more thoughts and added perspective, especially from strangers. The less you know someone, the less they care about disagreeing with you.
  4. Twitter lends itself well to quick, witty humor. Twitter users aim for powerful and punchy. If you are looking for discussions that are more thoughtful, Anchor is your friend.
  5. Some of us are terrible writers, but have the gift of gab with a voice rivaling Morgan Freeman.

5 Anchor Cons

  1. On the other hand, some of us don’t have the gift of gab. I found myself very agitated with users who couldn’t get to the point fast enough. As a result, I wouldn’t listen to the entire wave and dismissed the user. You can read quickly, but you can’t listen quickly. I’m willing to be patient with someone I know, but not for a stranger who’s not physically watching my reaction. Although I am not a fan of ramblings, I do think it would be interesting to lift the two-minute restriction for verified personalities and brands. That would lend better to storytelling.
  2. There were times I would rerecord a wave half a dozen times. I would say “um” too much or realize I could have articulated a thought more precisely, so I would give it another go. This takes too much time. If I weren’t dedicated to this experiment, I would have jumped ship or recorded less. Eventually I reached a point where I didn’t care what I sounded like. Time was more important to me. In essence, Anchor has to fight the user adoption battle, just like all new apps, but they have the added challenge of adopting users who are comfortable speaking in public or confident enough to say “to heck with it.”
  3. I haven’t heard of any major influencers swarming to Anchor. It takes way more time to reply than it does to send a like or RT someone’s way. I also wonder if the world’s most popular influencers would be as famous if we didn’t know what they looked like. Could Anchor influencers make a breakthrough? Perhaps there’s some Matthew McConaugheys and Tim Allens ready to compete with the Jerome Jarres and Nash Griers of the world. It very much feels like The Voice (Anchor) vs. American Idol.
  4. This is more of a preference than a complaint, but I would love it if each wave wouldn’t snap to fit the viewing screen. It slows the scrolling. Overall, there’s a ton of white space within each wave posting. I’m sure this space will be used more purposefully as the app establishes itself.
  5. Without proper bios for each user and knowing that literally talking with someone is more imitate, I hesitated to display my first and last name. All social media pros know that before you respond, you should investigate a user’s profile not only to provide the most customized response, but also to make sure you’re not engaging with a psycho. I would also like to prioritize my responses based on author credibility.

So what does this mean for travel brands?

I’ve heard some compare Anchor to Snapchat, but I don’t think it’s equal. Anchor doesn’t feel like radio to me. It feels like voice messaging. It’s like having a Walkie Talkie with anyone in the world – more like Twitter. It’s a Quora feed come to life.

There’s a travel playlist, and I could see travel bands using it to promote their destination and start conversations just like they would on any other platform. The question is why would they choose to do that on Anchor opposed to those other platforms? Will audio make that big of a difference for them in communicating with their consumers?

I admire Anchor for doing something that nobody else is, and I’m rooting for the app! I don’t quite see how it’s going to win over the hearts of people and brands just yet by being more audible than the others, but only time will tell. I’m personally crossing my fingers for that two-minute lift for verified accounts. I see a crystal ball of giddy copywriters and creative repurposing of content into ad hoc or episodic sound bites. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use Anchor because I’m always a fan of pioneers. Although there are some missing pieces for me in its current form, I do think Anchor is on to something, and I’m eager to see it develop.

What do you think about Anchor? How are you using it? Send me a wave at Meredith M.

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