This by Matt Sutton was originally posted on Medium
I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at Social Media Week Toronto last month about podcasts and their increasing prominence in the marketing industry. Joining me were industry veterans Dan Misener and Takara Small to talk about how major brands and media companies are thinking about podcasting and genuine consumer engagement.
The focus of our discussion was around how people are racing to get into the podcast game, and the increasingly steep competition that brands (small and large) face in capturing the attention of podcast listeners — attention that is extremely valuable: 1 in 5 people in the US listen to a podcast on a regular basis, with 43% of them listening for 6+ hours every week. We’re in the golden age of podcasting, and there’s a slowly closing window of opportunity to get in the game before the masses.
With every new medium, there is a period of opportunity where the rapid growth of consumer consumption outpaces the production of content. The brands that move first to take advantage of consumer attention and engagement — the innovators and early adopters — make massive market share gains and gain a loyal following. Eventually, as more and more brands plug into the medium and content is produced, consumers become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice and content (we’re seeing this in TV currently), and then the window of opportunity closes.
Podcasting, once regarded as a niche channel tailored to small interest groups, is rapidly becoming a dominant consumer behavior and a powerful marketing channel. Podcast listeners are highly educated, have greater spending power, and actually enjoy listening to the ads. NPR found that 75% of their listeners take an action off of sponsored messages. There’s a huge opportunity to reach audiences with podcasts, the question is how to get people to tune in?
In Toronto I discussed four “Hacks”: innovative ways that podcasters and brands are leveraging digital tools to build audiences and engage a loyal following:
Although it isn’t a hack, truly genuine content is essential to podcast success. Because of the unique mindset and intimate nature of podcast listening, brands that use podcasts merely as promotional vehicles will see podcast listeners reject their content.
“A majority of podcast listeners resist thinly-veiled advertisements and treat the content as second-tier and not as worthy of their time as an “original” show from a podcast network. They immediately feel that the podcast is closer to a piece of marketing (a sales pitch) than a true audience-focused show that they can learn valuable lessons from.”
With a highly engaged base and rapidly expanding consumer demand, an influx of incredible production talent from legacy radio and new seamless ways to deliver the content on digital and mobile, it truly is the time for brands to invest in podcasts. Get in the game before the late majority & laggards!
Matt Sutton is a Global Brand Marketing Manager at Facebook. As a believer in genuine storytelling and branded content, Matt has recently taken his personal passion in podcasts to his professional pursuits, partnering with leading podcast experts such as Apple, Pacific Content, Stitcher, and Tune-In over the past year to experiment with new strategies for brands to build awareness and drive tune-in to podcasts.