Podcasts: Why the hype?
Would the chances of you reading this article increase if it was read to you?
As we all spend more time in our homes and try to accept our new pattern of productivity, it’s safe to say that we’ve replaced the noise of traffic with the steady sound of podcasts. There’s no shame in agreeing that most of us listen to podcasts on 1.5 speed. And yes, sometimes we zone out. But while we argue that podcasts seem a lot of the second coming of radio, we can all agree that the appeal is strong.
How many podcasts are there in the world right now? Around 1,750,000. And they’re increasing.
What is a podcast?
Let’s take a quick rewind, a podcast is very similar to a radio however one doesn’t necessarily need to find the station. Spotify is easily the most popular platform.
A podcast, in its essence, is audio-only content that is distributed online on platforms. The nature of the podcast can be dynamic or genre-specific. It may include a single person or a whole group. The idea is to push content in a way that the audience can comprehend it without the need for a visual.
How did it get back in trend?
As the internet got domesticated and consumers started getting bombarded with multimedia, text-heavy, and graphic-filled data, we reached a point of saturation.
Ben Hammersley coined the term ‘podcasting’, in in 2004. The idea of having content that was conversational and in mp3 format seemed odd at the beginning but it quickly became desirable.
While the ease of production is why the number of podcasts increased, the audience likes it due to the level of control it offers.
The perks of podcasts :
It’s slow - I know, groundbreaking. But unlike other content, podcasts have revealed the dire need for something slow, enjoyable, and illusionary of conversation. As technology develops and people begin to consume data personally and not as a group, the need for something personal/intimate comes out like the sun behind clouds.
Podcasts started off to be intriguing because they felt like someone was talking to you, about this specific topic but unlike a real conversation, you get to tap out at any point.
Ease of creation - One of the key features of podcasts is how easy they are to produce. With the right mic, noise control, and a simple editing app - anyone can create a podcast. This makes the idea inviting as well because it’s not a massive investment. The fact that it can be pre-recorded and then published for consumption also provides the creators a breather.
Pace - Podcasts allow you to pause, play and stop at your own pace. While we’re overwhelmed by quick news story flashes or discussions on other mediums, a podcast slows it down for you. You can listen at your convenience, there’s no specific time restraint and you can speed up and dial it down a notch depending on how you react to the content.
Videos are great but they do need us to focus in order to gain an essence. While the multimedia experience is great and you have all the visuals right in front of you, it can feel a bit too much of a commitment.
Podcasts can be played and then forgotten about - they don’t paralyze your everyday activity. You can use your earplugs and keep your phone away without having to live to pay the cost of distraction.
5. Little possibility of getting overwhelmed by the content
As there is less distraction, there is very little chance of being overwhelmed. Sure, you may zone out once in a while but if the content is too much for you, you can always pace it down. You get complete control to skip bits, to slow down the speed of narration.
6. Targets a single sensory organ
We’re used to blaring noise of traffic, our alarm clocks or someone shouting over the phone. It’s easy to lose the meaning with all that noise. As podcasts are audio-only, it targets a single sensory organ allowing maximum creativity and giving an easy goal to the creator while allowing more freedom to the receiver.
One isn’t expected to be chained by the medium, it gives a superior sense of control to the user and the creators can have fun with the limitations of the medium. More solid content also gets pushed to the top because of the same.
Won’t videos take over podcasts?
Fair concern but with more OTT platforms and channels we can conclude a simple fact - audience like options. While video format is popular and widely accepted - be it for films, news or even lifestyle pieces. There’s definitely more potential for visualization but podcasts have proven the growing need for a platform that provides control to the users.
As more of us are chained to our screens, be it for work,communication or simple distractions - the podcast does seem to have the power to break that monotony.
Should you start a podcast?
If you’re confident with your content - chances are you’ve already tried to push your content on every device. If you missed out on this, it’s probably time to switch your CMS because users are clearly trying to show us something.
Content marketing is changing
We’ve had a long time to master our marketing efforts but one can’t stick to a single strategy forever. More companies are trying to engage their audience with multimedia tools and by exploring all channels.
Audio-only is definitely seeing a rise as it’s less distracting, allowing people to amplify their reach.
Audience loyalty is growing
In 2020 alone, the increased monthly by 5% from the previous year. The percentage of Americans familiar with podcasts as a content medium also went up.
In the media too, we’ve seen an increase in subscriptions go up as consumers filter out content they want to be exposed to.
Podcast tools are easy to workaround
As mentioned before, the tools required to start a podcast are not as very complicated. They’re easy to script, produce and distribute.
For established publishers, podcasts shouldn’t come across as an intimidating platform. It’s easy to experiment with and you can always have your content reused in audio format to find the audience you missed out.
More at home? More time for podcasts
While zoom calls and online classes have been great, the steady beat of podcasts seem to help as they keep you company and teach you a little something without needing to invest in any actual human interaction.
On a more serious note, the variety in content has always been the driving agent behind consumer engagement. The different kinds of podcasts have helped keep the medium fresh and interesting. From news bulletins to discussing start-ups - the platform has got a little something for everyone.
Podcasts may seem like radio but improved but the impact is visible. While it may have been accelerated by the pandemic, there sure is an audience who appreciates being read to. Is it something you’d try? Let us know!