Humans love great stories. The practice of storytelling is hardwired and universal, spanning cultures and centuries. Not only do narratives entertain us, they foster learning, strengthen relationships, create emotion, spark creativity, and improve memory, among a much longer list. It’s no wonder we seek out great storytellers. The storytellers themselves also receive benefits like increased popularity, authority and desirability.
Individuals are not the only ones who can be great storytellers, however. The most successful brands are the ones that tell authentic stories and offer helpful content to keep consumers coming back for more. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly harder to ensure stories are being heard- we’ve all developed shorter attention spans and low ad tolerance. So, what’s an effective strategy for telling your brand’s story in today’s landscape?
Start a podcast.
Podcasting is not as challenging as you might think, and the benefits are well worth it. Read on to learn why podcasting should be on your to-do list for 2019.
1. Podcasts build brand personality and develop relationships.
People buy from and work with brands they like, trust, and respect, and we already established that storytelling lends itself well to building those traits. When you provide helpful, engaging, entertaining content for listeners, they start to think of the brand more as a friend telling a story or giving advice than a company trying to make a buck. The actual voices heard on podcasts also humanize the brand and cultivate the bonds we inherently seek to create with others who are like us.
On that note, we all dislike when others try to sell us stuff (I’m talking to you, college acquaintance I haven’t spoken to in a decade who is trying to sell me skincare products and nutritional supplements on social media). I cannot stress enough that podcasts should not be used as direct selling tools. Listeners want podcasts that provide insight into topics, industries, or news about which your brand has authority, not infomercials. Gently pulling them in with great content is much more lucrative in the long term than bombarding them with self-serving ninja plugs.
2. Podcast audiences are hyper-engaged.
Compared to a passive medium like radio, listening to a podcast is a foreground, intentional activity. Listeners seek out content because they really do want to absorb it. Listeners are engaged from the start because they’ve chosen to let you entertain or educate them in the time and place they prefer. They’re allowing you into their home, car, or workplace. An audience that willingly and eagerly shows up on their own? That’s every marketer’s dream! No other medium receives this level of engagement.
Another solid point- an overwhelming majority of listeners, 80 percent according to Podcast Insights, intend to listen to podcasts in their entirety. Even if that entire 80 percent were passively listening, which they aren’t, you’re still in their ears with the chance they’ll rewind to main points that peak their interest. Hands-off listening also means they’re less likely to skip ads, so advertisers can feel good about that.
3. Podcasts are accessible and convenient.
Podcasts are available anywhere with an internet connection, which is almost everywhere in 2019. They’re even available off the grid if listeners plan ahead and download episodes to their devices. Listening is most prevalent during commutes, which isn’t surprising. According to eMarketer, 46 percent of U.S. podcast listeners tune in while in a vehicle, 17 percent on a train/bus/plane, and 15 percent while walking. Other popular locations are in the home and at the gym. Again, the fact that listeners are welcoming podcasts into their busy schedules is almost too good to be true.
4. Podcasts are easier.
Podcasts do require a good amount of upfront work to get off the ground, I’m not discounting that. Any successful campaign or project does. However, speaking about a topic is easier for most people than writing about it. If I were to discuss the benefits of podcasting with you through spoken word, I guarantee it would take me much less time than I’ve spent writing this post! It’s also easier for guests to join you on a podcast versus writing a blog.
5. Podcasts will only continue to grow in popularity.
According to eMarketer, 76.4 million people in the U.S. will listen to a podcast in 2019. That’s 23.1 percent of the total population. By 2023, 85.4 million people are forecasted to tune in, or 25.1 percent of the total population.
With that many folks tuning in to podcasts, brands that don’t meet them in the space are missing out and falling behind.