Now hear this.
Podcasting's been around for more than ten years now, and even though that's the equivalent of 1,000 internet years, it's showing no signs of losing popularity. In fact, the percentage of podcast listeners has doubled since 2008 and a whopping one-third of all Americans 12 years or older have listened to at least one podcast in their lifetime.
Podcasts clearly stand the test of time, as both a leisure pastime and informational resource. Why are they so popular and what does that mean for your brand? Let's find out.
So much to love
People love podcasts for a variety of reasons. It's difficult to determine how many podcasts are available across download services like iTunes, Soundcloud, and Libsyn, but it's estimated that over 200,000 podcasts are available at any given time. Monthly podcast consumption topped more than 46 million users at the end of 2015. Comparatively, the season five finale of Game of Thrones averaged a mere 8.1 million viewers.
In an increasingly fast-paced world, podcasts help people carve out some "me time." They make chores or extra time on the treadmill a little more bearable, giving listeners a chance to catch up on current events or learn more about their favorite topics.
And in a surprising twist, podcasters also have car manufacturers to thank for a steady listener base.
"Both Google and Apple have rolled out connected-car platforms (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, respectively), and most new cars sold in the U.S. these days come with the ability to play smartphone audio over the car's speakers, either through Bluetooth connectivity or through a USB or auxiliary plug. One industry group, GMSA, estimates that 50 percent of all cars sold in 2015 will be internet-connected, and 100 percent by 2025," reports New York Magazine.
Podcasts are widely available, free or low-cost, and can be played on whichever portable device you're already carrying in your pocket or purse. It's a perfect storm of opportunity for people who want to consume content on the go, and brands that are ready to deliver.
Reach new audiences
Once the domain of independent creators and celebrities, businesses both large and small now realize that podcasts are a perfect way to entice, educate, and engage customers. IBM began creating podcasts in 2015 as a way to reach a fresh target demographic and reach an entirely new generation of consumers.
"Brands are publishers now," says Ann Rubin, IBM's VP of Branded Content and Global Creative. "It's hard to get the message out to a broad audience, so if we can tell really interesting and really exciting stories to people who otherwise don't know about IBM then that's a good thing. It's OK that you personally are never going to buy an IT product from IBM, but now you have an understanding of what this company does in the world and maybe you'll talk about it to your friends."
How to Succeed in Podcasting
Choose your audience - Design your podcast content the same way you design other branded content, ensuring its messaging applies to audience you're targeting.
Channel your inner Barbara Walters - Podcasts are a great opportunity to interview thought leaders and successful people in your industry. Don't be afraid to give listeners a different perspective.
Provide value - Nothing turns off podcast listeners faster than an overt sales pitch. Make sure your content focuses on encouraging conversation, not selling your latest product line.
Build a community - Just as not all social media users listen to podcasts, not all your podcast subscribers have social media accounts. Use your social media management skills to develop a listener community around your podcast - but you'll want to reach out to people beyond Facebook and Instagram.
Let your passion shine throug - Podcasts aren't the place to drone on like a talking user manual. Be passionate, enthusiastic, and talk to listeners like they're your best friends.
Creating podcasts around your product or brand isn't easy, but the best things usually aren't. It takes patience to build a listener base, and a willingness to change up formulas until you find that sweet spot that leave subscribers eager for more. Itcan be a worthwhile investment, however, so get out there and start recording.
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