Ten years ago, the radio industry was on the decline, with marketers focused on engaging their customers with text, bright colours and eye-catching graphics. Radio hosts seemed to be clinging to an outdated medium while everyone was glued to a screen, but all that has changed with the resurgence of podcasts. Where once they were hard to find and follow, podcasts have been on the rise for the past few years, thanks to the introduction of Apple’s podcast app in 2012 and the full time integration into iOS in 2015.
Now, podcasts have exploded in popularity, with celebrities launching their own shows and high-end brands partnering with established podcast companies to better engage with customers. Much of this renaissance can be credited to the shifting behaviour of consumption and ease of access. As devices have gained better broadband connection, streaming services have become the norm. So, what is the big deal about podcasts and how can they benefit businesses?
Tuning into a successful formula
A great example of a podcast riding the wave of success is a show called Lore that has partnered with the producers of The Walking Dead. Lore is a podcast that taps into a growing love of the supernatural and how people are fascinated with the darker side of history. Launching in 2017, Lore will debut as an anthology show on TV and benefit from the reach of The Walking Dead’s established audience.
Brands are collaborating with podcast companies to create helpful guides, in the case of eBay’s partnership with Gimlet Creative. Called Open For Business, the podcast is an informative guide on how to start a business and maintain it. The six part show deals with different aspects of running an organisation, such as how to hire employees and setting the right prices.
How businesses can benefit from podcasts
Podcasts can be utilised by large and small businesses because they don’t need a huge amount of investment to get started. There are a number of devices that can be used to record the first couple of episodes, ranging from a smartphone to a tablet. The conversational nature of podcasts means you won’t have to write down everything that needs to be said and there is a lot of room for creative freedom.
Podcasts are perfect storytelling tools, with listeners being able to hear your brand message directly from the source. This allows a level of connection the written word is unable to convey by experimenting with timing, humour and emotional tone.
The convenience of a podcast means listeners can multi-task and are more likely to consume information than reading a blog or watching a video in one sitting. It’s useful to break down podcasts into five or six episodes to make the most of a customer’s tendency to listen on their smartphone while attending to other tasks.
This comes with the advantage of people devoting more time to listening to a podcast. They are able to engage more deeply with what is going on by having the freedom to consume information at their leisure. To maximise their time investment it’s best to keep episodes between 15-30 minutes to increase the likelihood of customers listening in full.
Audio is here to stay
The appeal of podcasts lies in the ability to be consumed at any time of the day, highlighting the effectiveness of the audio format. Audio offers an unlimited amount of ways to tell a story, and points towards a trend of radio being more important than ever.
I’ll be appearing on Whisky And Words, a Manchester based podcast for writers who are establishing themselves. It’s hosted by Dave Olsen and it’ll be free to listen to at the end of the month. Look out for me talking about the novelette I’m working on called Shadows At Dawn, a dark western about a witch-hunter named Rueben McNab who chooses love over duty and faces the consequences of his actions!
You can listen to the first episode on iTunes.