“Are you listening to any good podcasts lately?”
“Anyone have a podcast recommendation?”
“I listen to this podcast every week, and you have to try it…”
These days, everyone seems to have a favorite podcast (or three) that they’re excited to share. If you’ve noticed this trend, it’s not an isolated event: Americans love podcasts.
Recent data shows 41% of the U.S. population ages 12+ listened to at least one podcast in the last month, and 57% of Americans (162 million people!) ages 12+ have listened to at least one podcast.
“There truly is a podcast for everyone — and podcasting is for everyone. The Infinite Dial reports significant gains in podcast listening for 2021 in a year in which even remaining flat would have been a victory for the medium.” - Tom Webster, SVP Edison Research
The trend is only getting stronger. Talking about 2020 podcast statistics, Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research and co-author of The Infinite Dial 2021, wrote, “In a year in which absolutely nothing was normal, podcasting grew even more than it had the year before (17% growth, compared to 9% growth in 2020).”
Consider The Daily by The New York Times with 4 million listeners per day – a greater figure than the number of FOX News primetime viewers (the most-watched TV news network). The Dave Ramsey Show surpassed one billion downloads.
Audio itself is exploding. New apps like Clubhouse (a social networking app that allows people to gather in audio chat rooms to discuss various topics) are cropping up. Spotify is slowly becoming “the all-consuming audio platform of the universe,” announcing that it acquired the creator of the Locker Room app (a sports-centric social audio gathering app).
But why are podcasts so popular? In a world where our focus is constantly pulled in many directions, why does audio captivate people on a deeper level?
Captivating Content, Delivered Directly
Some might wonder, “Aren’t podcasts the same as TV, but without pictures and videos?” but that would be incorrect.
“It’s an entirely different medium that engages us, and our brains, on a very different level,” says Founder of Open Conversation, Regina Revazova.
“Podcasts speak directly to your brain, engaging your imagination in endless ways. This active form of listening helps consumers connect directly with your content, making it more memorable, rather than passively watching it.” - Regina Revazova
While we partially owe the rapidly increasing popularity of audio to technology (smartphones, cars with satellite radio, etc.), this is just a fraction of the story.
“Listening to a story invites active imagination, and human imagination can be endless when it’s not constrained by imposing visuals of scenes and characters like in video. These visuals dampen our awareness and inner vision,” says Revazova. “That’s why podcasts are called ‘the most intimate medium’ – you literally are getting inside someone’s head.”
‘Til the Credits Do Us Part
“I would take 5,000 podcast listeners over 100,000 Twitter followers,” said Guy Raz, NPR host of How I Built This and TED Radio Hour. Podcast listeners are dedicated.
“Podcasts have the highest listen-through rates, even compared with media behemoth YouTube,” says Open Conversation’s Revazova. This means your audience is with you all the way through until the credit lines and indicates they have higher attention spans than those who consume other forms of media.
At Open Conversation, we advise that companies are selective about which platforms to communicate their message. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But, podcasts check a number of essential boxes if you want loyal, attentive, fervent fans.
In fact, many companies are choosing to create branded podcasts to:
- Increase exposure
- Position their people as thought leaders
- Establish relationships and trust with audiences
- Inform listeners
- Amplify brand recognition
All of these elements ultimately drive revenue.
Here’s how: Let’s say our (fake) company is called “BestSocks, LLC,” and we host a podcast that interviews the fantastic artists that design our incredible footwear. This podcast doesn’t directly sell our socks but simply showcases an element of our business: creativity. This focus on creativity makes it educational, relevant, and entertaining to our audience and will build a dedicated following. And when it’s time for that following to warm up their feet with new socks, they’ll think of BestSocks first.
But My Product is Visual!
Even the most visual products have a compelling podcasting opportunity (much like our fake sock company). You can even use the intrigue and interest from your podcast to drive listeners to your website to see more about the product.
An excellent example of this tactic is Realtor.com’s podcast, House Party. While you might think that real estate would be challenging to showcase without photography or video, Realtor.com proves that assumption wrong.
“This is an audio-only endeavor, meaning it’s possible that the audience might be feeling unfulfilled without the visual component of what’s being discussed,” writes HotPod News in its review of the podcast.
“To help tie up those loose ends, a listener might end up going to realtor.com itself where the show notes for each episode contains a tidy list of links, such as for professional photos of the properties mentioned.”
An intelligent way to drive traffic to your website and pique the curiosity of your audience!
A Flexible Medium for a Bustling World
The world is getting busier, especially as life returns to normal after the pandemic. The hustle and bustle of mornings, days, and evenings is coming like a wave about to crash on the shore.
In this context, consuming content on the go is vital for success. That’s another powerful aspect of podcasts: You can access audio files and stream them from anywhere – and multitask while you listen.
Innovative companies find their listeners where they are and ensure they have frictionless access to their stories.
Podcasts bring us the best opportunities to captivate audiences wherever and whenever they are, building loyalty at every turn. If you’re curious if podcasting could be right for your business’ goals, we’d love to have an (open) conversation with you.