Updated: Aug 2
Ever since the term was first coined in 2004, podcasts have shot up in popularity over the years. In particular, the coronavirus lockdown led to a surge in the number of people regularly listening to podcasts – a trend, as the audience analytics firm Nielsen noted, that continued to grow even as lockdown rules were relaxed.
Consequently, more and more brands are seeing the benefits of the medium – from media companies like the BBC and Marvel, to less obvious advocates including Selfridges and McDonalds. Here at Ember, we’ve worked on a few podcasts ourselves – including one for our sister brand, The Evidence-Based Investor.
It is easier than ever to record your own podcast – as we talked about in an earlier blog, the equipment required is so widely available and affordable – but more important than that is to think about what goals your podcast can accomplish. What can podcast production offer to your brand and your marketing efforts?
Having the conversations relevant to your industry
One of the things that sets podcasts apart from many other kinds of content is that they’re a great medium for pure and authentic conversation. Podcast interviews often capture their subjects in a far more casual, relaxed, and “unedited” atmosphere than your average TV chat show or short-form video interview..
For brands, this is a great opportunity for you to embed yourself into the conversations relevant to your industry and to your customer base. For the Evidence-Based Investor podcast, for example, our sister brand is currently working on a series called ‘Second Lives’ – sponsored by the financial planning firm Mulberry Bow. This series features conversations with a range of people who have pursued big life changes in retirement – from a company finance director who is now pursuing a doctorate in ancient poetry, to a lawyer who has become a world-renowned wine expert. Through relaxed conversations like this, listeners are able to organically see how a financial planner could help them to achieve their own goals and life changes.
Furthermore, a conversation-led podcast is a fantastic way of broadening your network. By taking the opportunity to connect with centres of influence, you’re able to build mutually beneficial relationships with influential figures, whereby they’re promoting your brand to their network and you’re presenting them to yours.
Podcast production is a great addition to any content strategy
Podcasts are a lot more than just long-form audio. The content that you produce for a podcast can serve a multitude of other roles within your content strategy. Most notably, many podcasters will seek out specific highlights – that could be an interesting anecdote, for example, or a particularly insightful statistic – and repurpose these into shorter bite-sized chunks of content.
These can range from short videos filmed in the studio, such as this example from the BBC; to more simple audiograms such as this one from the Smartless podcast, consisting of basic motion graphics and captions. Short clips like these are ideal for social media platforms – both as a way of directing listeners to your long-form podcast, and of creating short, accessible content that stands alone and is highly shareable.
Connecting with your audience
Like many digital mediums, there is an element of interactivity to the medium of podcasts. The combination of the potential for a quick turnaround time and global reach allows for more of a back-and-forth between a podcaster and their listener base.
One of the earliest podcast successes, Answer Me This, is a clear example of how well this can work. This can be seen not only in the podcast’s simple format — hosts Ollie Mann and Helen Zaltzman attempt to research and answer any question submitted by their listeners — but also in the specifics of how this format is executed.
The sense of a “listener community” resounds throughout many episodes of Answer Me This. It’s present in small things like the fact that many of the musical stings dividing sections are listener-submitted, as well as in bigger and more memorable moments like, for example, when an answer about sports from one episode was illuminated on further the following week by an audience correspondent who happened, herself, to be an Olympic athlete.
One thing that this kind of “back-and-forth” does is develop trust between the podcaster and their listenership. This ties into how podcasts can utilise advertising and branded messaging, with such messages delivered organically and by a trusted voice that listeners respect. The head of sales for podcast network AudioBoom, Oli Waters, stated in an interview with Econsultancy: “let the podcast deliver any kind of brand mention in their own style and tone. That’s… why [we have] such great engagement levels, because any advertising we do is always natural and organic to the show.”
The effectiveness of this approach (particularly for smaller, online businesses) is clear to see, with Acast research finding that 76% of UK listeners have actively followed up on an advertisement that they heard in a podcast.
With just a bit of creativity and focus (and, of course, the discipline to keep it regularly updated), a podcast can be an easy to produce but hugely effective part of your content strategy. It can be a way of speaking relatably and honestly to a global audience, in a way that serves not just to broadcast to them, but to converse with them.
And at Ember, we are able to help you at any stage of your podcasting journey: whether you’re looking to produce a podcast series from scratch, or whether you want to introduce a video component to your podcast, do not hesitate to get in touch.