For those of you that do not know what podcasts are, Wikipedia defines a podcast as “… a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of audio or digital radio, subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device“.
Podcasts are not new, they have around since 2005. They never became very popular because at that time downloading them to your PC and syncing them with your iPod or iPhone was a pain. Ten years later smartphones and direct downloads via wifi/4G access changed all of that.
In 2014 podcasts really started to boom with the release of “Serial“, cited as an audio game-changer. It investigated the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and broke the iTunes record for fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads and streams.
Listen to podcasts while walking or driving,
The number of listeners increases faster than the number of podcasts. The listener can listen to a podcast without having to sit behind a screen. That makes it possible to enjoy podcasts while walking, driving, the moments where sitting in front of a screen is not an option, e.g. in traffic jams, commute time or even during exercise.
I have also become an avid podcast listener, especially while driving. I hook up my phone to my car audio system and listen to Radiolab, This American Life, Freakonomics, or my personal favourite, 99 % Invisible. Unfortunately Belgian/Dutch listeners will have a hard time finding professionally sounding podcasts. As often and because Dutch is a the small language group, we seem to be lagging.
Podcasts as content marketing
It should not come as a surprise that podcasts are used for content marketing purposes. Especially (US) comedians have understood that regular podcasts are a great way to reach out to their audiences. Others use podcasts to “soft-sell” their services or to show their “expert” status, typically by interviewing others or by providing tips and tricks.
Podcasters like the personal connection they have with fans who listen through ear buds or headphones, which can make shows feel more intimate than other forms of media.
Somewhat surprised I noticed that Slack, a messaging app for teams startup valued at $2.8 billion, has started with a podcast series called “The Slack Variety Pack“. A podcast about work, life, and everything in between. In every episode they bring a mix of stories on innovative ideas, modern culture, and people who have found their purpose. And… it is actually pretty good.
Is this a precursor towards a more general trend? Are banks or retailers going to bring audio stories as part of their communication mix? What do you think?
Image credit: Flickr/Bent Kure