Consider the evidence:
- One in three content marketers use podcasts or other audio content.
- However, 53% of content marketers who leverage podcasts and other audio content say it is the most effective format they use.
- Just 14% of social media marketers leverage audio chat rooms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.
- However, 68% of those who do say it’s the most effective social media strategy they use (stats courtesy of Hubspot).
What gives? Why have social media and digital marketers been so resistant to social and online audio content so far?
I see 3 big reasons:
1 – Resources. Social and digital teams are spread thin and other channels (for now) are taking priority (Insta, LinkedIn and blogs, for example). Teams just don’t have enough juice left for one more format–especially one that’s somewhat time-consuming to produce.
2 – Audio isn’t as searchable as blog content. I think this is a big reason that not many people talk about. But, it’s definitely true. Audio content is harder to find. And, it’s definitely not built into Google searches nearly as much as blog and other online content is. Therefore, it’s perceived as less valuable in the grand scheme of things.
3 – Social audio is still new. Really new. Clubhouse really just broke this year. Twitter Spaces are relatively new. LinkedIn is just now testing social audio. It’s a brand new format and brands just haven’t jumped in–which is not new at all.
So, some solid reasons why brands haven’t been more involved so far. However, I see audio as a HUGE area of opportunity for brands in 2022 (and beyond). Here’s why.
First, let’s start with podcasting. It’s never been more popular. According to Edison Research, 162 million people have ever listened to a podcast. 116 million have listened to one in the last month. And of all weekly podcast listeners, they’ve listened to EIGHT in the last week. Momentum is high–and it’s not going anywhere thanks to in-car audio systems, the continued proliferation of smart speakers and the ease with which we can all listen to podcasts on our phones in 2022.
Second, social and online audio squares with what I believe will be a big trend in 2022: More niche communities. No brand is going to amass a huge following with a podcast or social audio. However, you can definitely engage a super-niche audience–and I would argue that super-niche audience is very important. It’s your very best customers. These are your brand ambassadors. Your people who stick up for you when times are tough. Your people who bring you new ideas. Your people who advertise FOR you! This is typically content generated specifically for them.
Finally, social and online audio provides your brand with much-needed depth. You could easily argue video (and live-streaming, which will also blow up in 2022) offers the same depth. And you’d be right. But there’s something intimate about audio. Something that makes you feel even more connected to the brand–and the people who represent it. Think about radio talk shows. Locally, I’m a loyal listener of the Power Trip Morning Show. I listen every day. As a result, I almost feel like I know some of the hosts and guests. I feel a connection to them through the stories and jokes they tell. That’s what you’re looking for from a brand perspective, too. Emotional connection. And audio can give it to you.
So, the $100,000 questions is HOW, right?
First and foremost, this comes down to prioritization. Back to that resource point above–you’ll definitely have to prioritize audio. Which means you may have to drop something. Have you conducted a social media audit recently? Do you know which channels are performing well, and which aren’t? Maybe there’s a channel or two you could completely drop to make up for the time you’ll need for audio. This is worth exploring (and, if you need a social audit, I’ve done a ton of these over the last 12 years!).
Second, social audio might be a nice entree into podcasting. The time commitment isn’t quite as high.
Finally, most brands that would entertain social or online audio probably also have a blog or some sort of online digital publishing tool. Why couldn’t you build your audio approach and content off that? For example, let’s say you’re Patagonia and you have the wildly successful Cleanest Line blog, full of great stories and perspectives about the outdoors. How hard would it be to extend the life of those posts by creating Twitter Spaces chat rooms to discuss the topics in those posts with the authors and others tied to Patagonia? Wouldn’t that be relatively easy to pull off? Wouldn’t that tie directly to content they’ve already worked hard to produce? Wouldn’t that give those posts more depth with the audio that would be created through the Twitter Space chat?
Nah, probably makes TOO much sense, right?
But, my guess: A lot of brands WILL experiment with online and social audio in 2022. And, I’m very curious to see where that goes.