When was the last time you recommended a must-watch TV series to someone? A page-turner of a book? Some new music? A brilliant podcast? In these unprecedented times, the suggestion of an undiscovered source of entertainment, education or escapism is to be cherished: a gift to people we cannot see but want to connect with; somewhere to go when we have to stay home.
And if you’ve been listening to more podcasts than ever before, you’re not alone. A staggering 10million of us Brits are podcast listeners – a figure that has more than doubled in the past five years and shows no sign of slowing down. Over 40% of listeners are aged 15-34 and 71% stay tuned for an entire episode. That’s a lot of people listening for a lot of time.
It turns out one-hit wonder The Buggles were wrong when they sang ‘Video killed the radio star’ on the first music video to be aired on MTV in 1981. Videos didn’t kill the radio, just like the internet didn’t kill books and augmented reality won’t kill travel. We have simply diversified to the point that we consume more content in more ways (simultaneously) more of the time. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that 94% of branded podcast listeners consume podcasts while doing other tasks. Listening this way has been proven to actually elevate engagement with the brand. Me? I like a comedy for cleaning the bathroom but prefer an in-depth interview for a country walk.
Podcasts engage with us in a way that other mediums can’t. They’re intimate and conversational. Slip your earbuds in or your headphones over and everything else is shut out apart from that voice. In a world where everything fights for our eyeballs, our ears have been neglected. Listening feels special.
The opportunity for brands cannot be underestimated. Podcasts give your brand a trusted voice. They can convey how your work makes a difference, what you stand for and why you matter in the world. They can educate, entertain, inspire, inform and create community. All the hallmarks of successful, effective content.
The skill is finding what your brand has authority to talk about that people want (or need) to hear. Find that space, call in the talent and you’ll be rewarded. A recent study commissioned by the BBC found that organisations with branded podcasts enjoy an uplift of 89% in awareness, 57% in brand consideration and an incredible 14% in purchase intent. Tell that to your friends in the website department and watch them weep.
It all comes back to one of the basic principles of effective branded content: create something your audience wants, needs or enjoys and they will consume it. They will spend time with your brand, feel warmer towards you, want to return and recommend you to their friends. To all this, for podcasts I would add: whisper it in their ear when no-one else can hear and they will remember.