For The Drum's Deep Dive into Audio, Emma Shuldham (managing director, ITB Worldwide) outlines how brands can partner with influencers and content creators to engage audiences through social audio and podcasts in a way that’s more authentic and believable than a standard #ad social media post.
As the old Apple tagline goes, ‘there’s an app for that’. Now, with the huge popularity of podcasts, you’d be hard pressed not to find ‘a podcast for that’ – no matter how niche the topic. Social audio is taking the marketing world by storm and brands have an exciting opportunity to be part of these conversations by working with creators in this space.
According to Hootsuite’s 2022 Social Media Trends report, 74% of businesses plan to invest in audio content this year, as another means of reaching consumers who are fatigued by digital ad content online and across their social feeds. Video-led apps like Instagram and TikTok may have now met their match as social audio apps and platforms continue to grow at a rapid pace.
How effective is podcast marketing?
Podcasts, in particular, are booming – making them one of the most promising areas for brands to invest marketing spend. The latest stats for 2022 show that 62% of US consumers are listening to audio podcasts, up from 57% in 2021 and more than doubling in the last decade.
Some of the top charting podcasts are extensions of popular social media accounts on YouTube and Instagram. There’s no shortage of possibilities for brands to partner with in-demand creators and place their brand name and products on their channels. A recent study by Ad Results Media and Edison Research shows that those exposed to an ad whilst listening to a podcast are 74% more likely to visit a company website and 65% more likely to purchase a product or service. But as with all influencer marketing, creators must be given the freedom to speak about the products they promote in their own voice and in a natural way for there to be any form of success.
The conversational tone of podcasts allows product promotion to feel more authentic and believable than a standard #ad post on social media. With consumers devoting an average of 43 minutes to each podcast, it enables influencers to spend more quality time with their audiences to share their advice and recommendations among their niche interests.
Brands looking to foster a deeper sense of community with consumers have an opportunity to leverage the unfiltered experience that audio platforms offer. The ability to host live chats is an ideal way to connect with audiences on a more intimate level and learn more about them, as well as co-create with advocates of the brand.
Choosing a podcast genre for advertising
The main drivers of audio channels are education and entertainment, which opens up an opportunity for brands to align with hosts and creators who dive deep into their audience’s interests. The compelling nature of audio is also having a positive impact on people’s lives – with nearly three in five city-dwelling UK consumers stating they were inspired to make a change in their lives after listening to a podcast.
According to a Vodafone/Spotify survey of UK consumers, comedy (30%), entertainment (25%), sport (23%) and true crime (19%) top the list of most popular podcast genres. But those genres barely scratch the surface of the potential in this space – with everything from health & fitness, business, culture and even the most niche of topics, drawing people to social audio apps and platforms to listen in to chats around their passions and interests.
Whether you are a food brand looking to excite consumers into eating healthy snacks or a fitness brand seeking to inspire individuals to exercise more often, there are few topics currently untapped by creators who have a powerful effect on their audiences.
How to create authenticity in audio ads
Brands should allow for unfiltered and honest conversations. Audiences are enjoying these social audio platforms because it feels like listening and being part of an intimate and authentic conversation, so brands can’t be too prescriptive – it should feel natural and organic.
Influencers who have engaged communities on social audio platforms have done so by being open and relatable, giving followers direct access to them and their lives. Brands would do well to let these influencers take the lead and guide them on what they know their audience would be most receptive to.
There’s no denying the powerful role that visual content plays in social media strategies and creating engaging content without visuals can be a challenge for brands. The beauty of audio is that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere, in the right context and with ease, seamlessly integrating interesting content into our daily lives without any disruption. The intimate and immersive nature and the storytelling benefits it presents is a huge opportunity for brands to partner with talent to engage with their audiences. Once the visual elements are stripped back, it goes without saying that brands should look to partner with relevant talent who can hold their own in a conversation and provide entertainment or interest with audio alone.